ICT Strategy vs Governance Framework vs Enterprise Architecture
Created: Thursday, 22 May 2014
By Samuel Mandebvu
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Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a discipline that has become pervasive through the organisation. ICT Strategic Planning is developing a vision that is aligned to business in order to both drive and enable business strategy. It is a vision that is translatable into quantifiable milestones through which progress can be tracked against. Figure 1: ICT & Business Alignment shows the relationship between ICT and Business strategy, and how ICT resources enable the mission of ICT through its strategy.
ICT Governance is about managing risk and optimal resource allocation, in order to enjoy business benefits. All businesses exist to get business benefits. ICT governance is not managed through a single instrument, but a collective of instruments. The foundation or framework to good governance is a Governance Framework. This document outlines the key instruments that must exist within any organisation in order to control risk and optimally distribute resources. The Governance Framework ascribes to an organisation having appropriate policies to convert organisational principals into executable behaviour, and the procedures are the articulation of exactly how to bring espoused principles into reality. The Governance Framework (GF) also identifies the rules and regulations that guide the organisational behaviour and to some extent shape its direction. The GF ensures there is adequate oversight and auditing within the organisation to ensure industry, government and international regulatory compliance. The GF must outline roles and responsibilities through an ICT Steering Committee, the Governance Charter and organisational organograms. To sum it up a GF is a framework which outlines the necessary tools in order to monitor, evaluate and control an ICT environment.
Enterprise Architecture (EA) is an organisation wide view of ICT. It cements the notion that ICT is pervasive across the organisation. EA through TOGAF tools like the ADM cycle can be used to implement a business aligned ICT Strategy through multiple ADM cycles. It ensures that ICT incentives are ultimately enabling business needs by firstly looking at the business need and then peeling away the layers of ICT whilst investigating every layer (as shown in Figure 2: The ADM, from phase B to D) in order to create a solution that can be leveraged across an entire organisation. EA is the ecosystem view of ICT and business components across an organisation.
Figure 2: The ADM
Figure 1: ICT & Business Alignment
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These three major elements of the ICT landscape do not exist in isolation. They all work in conjunction with each other. I am going to use a simple analogy to show their interdependence. If you look at Figure 3: EA vs. Governance vs. Strategy, you will see there is a ship, a map and man with tablets, let us say he is the captain of the ship. Let us start with the man with the tablets, he is the custodian of the rules and regulations, his job is to control and assign responsibility. He is also responsible for maintaining performance. The ship is our organisation. It a culmination of many different smaller systems at play and the way it looks and works is guided by the rules and guidelines of the Captain and crew of that ship and any external regulators. It is the EA, with layers such as the ship’s metal frame, the electrical system, that powers the radar and other nautical systems the systems enable the ship crew to do a number of necessary functions such as navigate the ship, purify water for drinking, etc. The EA is informed and guided by the GF, for example the ship’s radar equipment must be in line with international maritime laws, if it is to go out to open sea. The map is the strategic plan, it outlines what the crew are setting out to find (the treasure) and how they shall go about getting there. There are clear milestones along the way to the treasure. It is the Captain’s job to clearly assign responsibilities to members of the crew and monitor their performance in order to ensure that the set target is reached. Eg the ship’s cook must have certain skills and things like the crew’s dietary balance and food ration management would be KPI’s for the captain to review and evaluate the cook. The GF places ultimate responsibility of mission success on the highest body (in the case the captain) and the captain, aware of the rules and regulations of the waters he is in and in consultation of the first hand (Steering Committee), must steer the ship.
Figure 3: EA vs. Governance vs. Strategy