Government and business transformation

The Enterprise Architect (EA) and even more specifically the Business Architect is a relatively new concept in government… at least the government I worked for for the past 25 plus years.

Lets face it, you would never build a house without an Architect… you would never do a massive addition or renovation without a detailed design from an Architect… Why do organizations feel they can transform or change an organization/business without an EA – Enterprise Architect?

The way I saw it was organizations would buy or create an “application ” to run their business. Over the years as technology changed and new components came to market the leaders would buy those shiny new objects or upgrade the components and then force the business to use them. IT has been driving change for the business.

I get it… in the days of the big old mainframes this might have worked but we can’t keep applying that same thinking. The big old mainframes that I am referring to were big sophisticated applications… it took weeks of training to get staff up to speed on a specific area. Staff was needed to operate and act as the go between for their clients. Nine times out of ten the public would walk in the doors and meet with someone to get their needs met.

These big sophisticated applications stood alone… they had one door in and one door out usually the screens led by a main menu which controlled access… they were in-house, they had big security walls around them, they were protected, and they were safe.

An architect was maybe called something different back then… the function was there but it wasn’t the same as the one I am referring to. You were designing one application for one part of the business. If that application needed to pass information to another application it was done with batch jobs at night when the staff was at home. Reports were created to share information with the public.

Fast forward to the world today… the smart phones, tablets and internet have led us to a more self service society with a real-time expectation. Lets face it the old way of thinking and doing business doesn’t work… you can’t just train members/clients/public to use the applications the same as you trained your staff. You can’t just turn them into 24/7 real time systems. You can’t just open the doors to these systems and expose them to the internet… they were never built for that. You can’t just buy a portal to transform to an online self service… you can’t just buy a bus to tie everything together… you can’t buy a product to transform.

What you do need to do is to think of organizations as a set of functions… business functions to be exact. You need to map out each of these functions and determine how to handle them individually… should they be self service, should they be exposed, should they be real time, should they be handled in house??? Once you know this then you can transform what you need to transform… then you can chose the back bone technology of the organization… then you can start the transformation process.

Equal to the business function is the information… let’s face it this is governments biggest asset. Similar to the big silo applications we need to think about the way we handle information. In the past we held our information in house, we protected it with a concept similar to a big safe, we stored everything… it was paper. Now we are dealing with electronic information, it is easier to create, duplicate, share… it exists everywhere. We are trying to handle it as we handled paper but with applications and it is causing content chaos.

I have decided to create this blog to share what I have learned over the years, to create discussions, to explore technologies and techniques and most importantly to create change on a bigger scale than just one organization. What government is doing today is not working! Over the past few years I have watched organization after organization go through “reorgs”, reorgs that are bigger than usual. They are restructuring, adjusting their leaders. This gives the staff a feeling of lost confidence and frustration and quite frankly is a huge waste of taxpayer’s money. People… the change that needs to happen is like turning the Titanic actually it is more like turning a fleet of Titanics that need to work together seamlessly… it is not like upgrading one application which can happen over a few years. This is not an easy task. I believe we are about to enter a very hard but rewarding new way of transforming businesses.

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Lisa Pantuso

Lisa spent almost 30 years working in both the private and public sectors, and has a reputation for getting things done. As the Government CIO Senior Information Architect she led a cross government Enterprise Content Management initiative. The Provincial ECM Strategy was published in 2012 and recognized as the first Provincial Strategy to be endorsed by all Ministries. In 2020, Lisa left to start teaching others the approaches and techniques that have set her apart.