Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Enterprise Architecture and Zoning

The purpose of zoning is not for dividing, but for agile governance. 

The basic concept of architecture zoning is to define different 'zones' in your business where the pace of change is different, technology innovation is a greater or lesser factor, the desire for business vs. IT control is different, and where the 'interests of the enterprise vs. the interests of a particular business function is balanced differently.

The purpose of zoning is to enforce organizational agility. Zoning an enterprise this way impacts how planning is performed, governance, change management - a wide range. Ultimately, zoning is a way to address the need for business agility by putting in the rules allowing fast change for the appropriate areas. 

Zoning and segments are very complementary concepts. Segments & domains are a way to organize the definition and support of architecture. Zoning is about policies that would apply to these segments. Zoning includes the organizational design part of the EA that would allow for decentralized enterprise governance

From controller and police to the strategic partner: The idea of zoning is to support shifting IT from controller and police to the strategic partner focused on the sustainability of the enterprise, as well as support for fast-moving business opportunities and strategies. Key to success is 'defining the rules' in advance, and having more than two zones. As an example, you could have a core zone where IT makes and controls changes with strict standardization, etc, and a business innovation zone with few standards, business funding for technology, and high autonomy. You might have other zones to reflect different balances of concerns. 

Zoning is useful for various stakeholders that could analyze EA from different points of view: Each and everyone could have own criteria for zoning: speed of change, technology choice, governance, critical processes...Zoning has benefits in multiple areas, such as:
- it enables 'the right amount of integration' (both technical and policy) across different parts of the enterprise
- IT is less seen as a bottleneck and impediment
- allows various governance and funding decisions to be distributed appropriately across the enterprise - which is seen as key to business agility

Practically, one may look at zoning as an abstract categorization for analysis or an enterprise organization criteria. You can start sketching on an EA blueprint with the hot spots which are prone to change faster for various reasons such as technology evolution, business process redesign... for example, business units often bypass IT today, by employing directly Cloud services.

Zoning techniques: You may color various zones differently in the cube for single criteria. Then you may change the criteria and re-color. You may automate that with the proper tool. Zones can be derived from functional groupings or flow/process categories or groups of functions, flows, and layers are taken together

‘Stove-piping concerns’: Will zoning result in stove-piping, duplication of efforts in the different zones, and likely result in compatibility issues when trying to share information across zones. EA should always balance the pros and cons in its effort with the goal of building an ultimate agile business. 

With EA thinking and designing, zoning can leverage flexibility in the management discipline, balance customization, and standardization. 



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