Updated: Aug 31, 2019
One of the most important factors to drive your transformation effort and agenda is the architecture (or framework) for your current and end states. Architectural design (an artful arrangement of resources for definite ends) is best described as design with intent. Understanding the interfaces between a) systems, structure and people, b) how work is performed and by whom, and c) where strategy meets execution, will optimise your outcome.
Similarly as you are faced with building or renovating a home, you need to understand what your environment is, what are the prevailing circumstances/conditions and how the design is to be delivered. Let's suppose you are renovating a home and you want to knock down a wall to have an open space between your kitchen and dining room…seems like a simple task to complete, right?
- Have you investigated if the wall is load bearing or not?
- Are the foundations of your home capable of holding the shift in structural load?
- Is there any plumbing that needs to be repositioned?
- Are there any electrical wires/cabling that needs to be relocated?
- Are your tradespeople scheduled in a sequence that they won’t interfere with other tradespeople?
- With the new open area, will the morning sun leave you squinting whilst you are trying to enjoy your breakfast?
Architectural design assesses all of your organisation's elements, to fit into your design brief, and provides you with a schematic of your organisation's "moving pieces"; to avoid "missing" key pieces of the puzzle.
Framing the Situation
In business transformation, it is essential to understand the interfaces and interconnectedness of the decisions that are being made. Your strategy will give you the vision of why and what is to be achieved (design brief); your architecture will give you the deliberate thinking and mapping out of your environment and systems that will be affected by the change. Therefore, it is imperative to workflow your business processes, people, structures and models in an environment that is centrally captured for all to see; so that you are able to review at any given point in time and have everyone associate with your businesses environment.
There are many and varied types of business architectural frameworks; including business, information, data, product and service architectures. Following we will explore these architectural frameworks and what role they play in business transformation, plus some easy how-to guides that will assist you to create the platforms for success.
This practice is devoted to connecting strategy to the operational areas of your business. Understanding what needs to be achieved, how it will be done and who will perform the roles necessary for success, gives you a deliberate approach to your transformation effort and agenda. This is effectively your strategy execution map.
A simple method of achieving this is to start out with an organisational chart. Mapping out the players in your business and their relationships to other areas is an excellent start. Once you have the players and the teams mapped out, you can start to introduce other key elements of your business architecture; such as revenue and cost modelling, customer interface, strategic impact and development, a SWOT analysis on individual teams, end-to-end business process workflows and capability needs and effectiveness.
It is through your business architecture that you will be able to understand the interconnectedness of teams interacting with other teams, for the delivery of key business products and services. Once you see this interconnectedness, you will be able to map the strategic intent of your organisation against your current capabilities; providing identification of the “walls that can come down”.
Data and Information Architecture
To understand how data and information flows through your organisation, a line of sight of the tools that you have in place and the dependencies that exist, needs to be clearly articulated. It is through this activity that you will be able to identify tools that may need to be upgraded or replaced; such as an old version of software that is slow and inhibiting data analytics, or hardware that doesn't have the capability to power the software that you have in place – eg. you need a mobile workforce, so do you have the devices that will enable this? All of the parts of the organisation need to be able to deliver the organisational intent.
Let’s use an organisation’s website as an example. If your strategic values call for simplicity and you have an overly complex website that requires users to “troll” through endless pages to achieve an outcome, your strategic objective will be failing. Similar to an organisational chart for your business architecture, simply chart your website’s options – from page to page through to data collection; start to end. You can take screen shots of all of your website's pages and work through a storyboard of why they were developed and if they are still required. You may be surprised to see that you have some pages or data collection points that are erroneous or superfluous. This will give you an indication of whether you pivot or preserve – can you upgrade and achieve simplicity, or will it be best to start again?
Product and Service Architecture
In this final area of architectural frameworks that we will look at, you will be able to map out the customers of your products and/or services and their experience with your organisation. As a service based organisation, do you request the same information on multiple occasions? As a product based organisation, do you collect feedback from your customers on the serviceability of the product that they have purchased?
Let’s examine a health care provider, to unpack some of the key themes. The health care industry has a tremendous amount of compliance placed upon it – from a users perspective; I completely understand and support the importance of this role. However, as organisations, if a new level of compliance is placed upon the industry do we simply create another form to capture the information required, or do we evaluate the service model in place, to find new and innovative ways to achieve the key theme that has been introduced? This can be achieved through the modelling of your service to the customer and gives you an opportunity to evaluate if the current practice is out-dated and requires an upgrade, or a completely new way of working is needed.
Storyboard your customer's experience and understand the interactions with your organisation; are there too many steps? Are you connected with your customer throughout their engagement with your organisation? Become intimately aware of how your customer engages with your organisation and how (and what point) do you engage with them.
Architectural frameworks can provide you with the confidence and knowledge that your people, processes, systems and structures are appropriately established to achieve your strategic goals.
Have you adequately modelled your business elements and entities to leverage success in your transformation journey? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.