Bringing EA, Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) and ITIL together

Enterprise architects are discovering capability-based planning as the tie that binds EA, Project PPM and IT service management together.

As businesses make their way out of the recession, many will be looking toward capability-based planning, which ties enterprise architecture, project and portfolio management (PPM) and IT service management under one umbrella, according to Jason Uppal, chief architect at QR Systems Inc. (QRS), an IT consulting and training company in Canada.

For engineering-centric organizations, he said, capability-based planning is nothing new, but in companies where engineering is not a discipline, “planning groups that did this work did so absent of [enough knowledge on] how information is structured and developed. They have programs running, but nobody can tell you the business value or how to measure it.”

Architects, project managers and operations have all been working separately. “The architects are trying to build something agile enough to support the organization for the long haul, the PPM 'guys' have to finish on time and on budget and the ITIL [Information Technology Infrastructure Library] 'guys' are trying to keep the lights on. But nobody was bringing this whole thing together. This is where progressive CIOs are taking an aggressive approach,” Uppal explained.

With these three disciplines under one umbrella, he said, “you don’t replace a system for the sake of replacing it; you think about what capability the organization needs and how you’ll provide it.”

The problem has been a difference in vocabulary and working in isolation, Uppal said. “They don’t speak the same language, and we see that in all these disciplines. They all think they have the right to define what the problem is, but when they do so individually, the problem they solve may not be the problem defined by the end customer. Where the hope of the industry is for 2011 is to start to close that gap in vocabulary.”

ITIL v3 is a good step in that direction, he said, as it has translated everything into services.

Going forward, Uppal said there are five value-generation areas organizations getting started in capability planning can focus on:

The current IT portfolio.
“First they need to understand how to exploit what they have. That’s where enterprise architects can come in and deliver value. Say we have 10 of everything—how do you standardize to reduce the current cost? That’s the lowest hanging fruit, and you can deliver value very quickly.”

New investment.
“Organizations are fairly mature with PPM, and with some parts of ITIL, but they are not mature on how to translate business requirements into what the technology needs are. They need to figure out what the business is trying to accomplish and give them the right capability. … That’s what enterprise architecture is trying to accomplish; and the planning group is forcing this discussion. Don’t define the solution, define the problem.”

Process maturity.
“A lot of times organizations bring in individual heroes in IT, but you want to make the process repeatable regardless of who does the work. That’s where enterprise architecture and PPM come together. Whatever the weakest link is in those processes, that will be the bottleneck.”

IT governance.
“This is where CIOs are starting to play a big role. The CIO in this whole lifecycle has the stewardship for governance; they don’t necessarily make the decisions but they find people who have the authority to make decisions and make sure they make them. IT governance is becoming a larger subject than making sure the passwords are set correctly.”

Support.
“This is where ITIL comes in. Most organizations are good at helpdesk but they struggle with measuring the performance of their assets. I can make sure the system is up 24/7, but is it helping anybody? People in IT support are now behind the planners.”

So as EA, PPM and operations come together, who is in charge? Uppal said all three groups “have to stand back and let somebody else take the lead, and the planners are the best ones to do this thing. They already have the CFO’s ear. We all become [players] in support mode, as opposed to heroes who save the day.”

This was first published in December 2010

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