This chapter describes a technique known as Business Transformation Readiness Assessment, used for evaluating and quantifying an organization's readiness to undergo change.
This chapter builds on work by the Canadian Government and its Business Transformation Enablement Program (BTEP).1
Enterprise architecture is a major endeavor within an organization and most often an innovative Architecture Vision (Phase A) and supporting Architecture Definition (Phases B to D) will entail considerable change. There are many dimensions to change, but by far the most important is the human element. For example, if the enterprise envisages a consolidation of information holdings and a move to a new paradigm such as service orientation for integrated service delivery, then the human resource implications are major. Potentially coupled with a change-averse culture and a narrowly skilled workforce, the most sound and innovative architecture could go nowhere.
Understanding the readiness of the organization to accept change, identifying the issues, and then dealing with them in the Implementation and Migration Plans is key to successful architecture transformation in Phases E and F. This will be a joint effort between corporate (especially human resources) staff, lines of business, and IT planners.
The recommended activities in an assessment of an organization's readiness to address business transformation are:
- Determine the readiness factors that will impact the organization
- Present the readiness factors using maturity models
- Assess the readiness factors, including determination of readiness factor ratings
- Assess the risks for each readiness factor and identify improvement actions to mitigate the risk
- Work these actions into Phase E and F Implementation and Migration Plan
The Canadian Government Business Transformation Enablement Program (BTEP) provides guidance on how to identify the business transformation-related issues.
The BTEP recommends that all projects conduct a transformation readiness assessment to at least uncover the business transformation issues. This assessment is based upon the determination and analysis/rating of a series of readiness factors. The outcome is a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities that could be presented in the course of the endeavor. Many of the challenges translate directly into risks that have to be addressed, monitored, and, if possible, mitigated.
The following sections describe Business Transformation Readiness Assessment using the BTEP method, including some lessons learned. Readers should keep in mind that most organizations will have their own unique set of factors and criteria, but most are similar.
The first step is to determine what factors will impact on the business transformation associated with the migration from the Baseline to Target Architectures.
This can be best achieved through the conduct of a facilitated workshop with individuals from different parts of the organization. It is important that all perspectives are sought as the issues will be varied. In this workshop it is very useful to start off with a tentative list of factors that participants can re-use, reject, augment, or replace.
An example set of factors drawn from the BTEP follows:
- Vision is the ability to clearly define and communicate what is to be achieved. This is where management is able to clearly define the objectives, in both strategic and specific terms. Leadership in defining vision and needs comes from the business side with IT input. Predictable and proven processes exist for moving from vision to statement of requirements. The primary drivers for the initiative are clear. The scope and approach of the transformation initiative have been clearly defined throughout the organization.
- Desire, Willingness, and Resolve is the presence of a desire to achieve the results, willingness to accept the impact of doing the work, and the resolve to follow through and complete the endeavor. There is active discussion regarding the impact that executing the project may have on the organization, with clear indication of the intent to accept the impacts. Key resources (e.g., financial, human, etc.) are allocated for the endeavor and top executives project the clear message that the organization will follow through; a message that identifies the effort as well as the benefits. Organizationally there is a history of finishing what is started and of coming to closure on issues in the timeframes needed and there is agreement throughout the organization that the transformation initiative is the "right" thing to do.
- Need, in that there is a compelling need to execute the endeavor. There are clear statements regarding what the organization will not be able to do if the project does not proceed, and equally clear statements of what the project will enable the organization to do. There are visible and broadly understood consequences of endeavor failure and success criteria have been clearly identified and communicated.
- Business Case exists that creates a strong focus for the project, identifying benefits that must be achieved and thereby creating an imperative to succeed. The business case document identifies concrete benefits (revenues or savings) that the organization is committed to deliver and clearly and unquestionably points to goals that the organization is committed to achieving.
- Funding, in the form of a clear source of fiscal resources, exists that meets the endeavor's potential expenditures.
- Sponsorship and Leadership exists and is broadly shared, but not so broad as to diffuse accountability. Leadership keeps everyone "on board" and keeps all focused on the strategic goals. The endeavor is sponsored by an executive who is appropriately aligned to provide the leadership the endeavor needs and able to articulate and defend the needs of the endeavor at the senior management level. These executive sponsors are and will remain engaged throughout.
- Governance is the ability to engage the involvement and support of all parties with an interest in or responsibility to the endeavor with the objective of ensuring that the corporate interests are served and the objectives achieved. There are clearly identified stakeholders and a clear sense of their interest in and responsibility to the project; a culture that encourages participation towards corporate rather than local objectives; a history of being able to successfully manage activities that cross interest areas; a culture that fosters meaningful, as opposed to symbolic, participation in management processes; and a commitment to ongoing project review and challenge and openness to outside advice.
- Accountability is the assignment of specific and appropriate responsibility, recognition of measurable expectations by all concerned parties, and alignment of decision-making with areas of responsibility and with where the impact of the decisions will be felt. Accountability is aligned with the area where the benefits of success or consequences of failure of the endeavor will be felt as well as with the responsibility areas.
- Workable Approach and Execution Model is an approach that makes sense relative to the task, with a supporting environment, modeled after a proven approach. There are clear notions of the client and the client's role relative to the builder or prime contractor and the organization is experienced with endeavors of this type so that the processes, disciplines, expertise, and governance are already in place, proven, and available to apply to the transformation endeavor. All the players know their roles because they have played them before with success. In particular, the roles of "client" and "systems builder" are mature and stable. There is a communication plan covering all levels of the organization and meeting the needs ranging from awareness to availability of technical detail. There is a reward and recognition plan in place to recognize teams and individuals who use good change management practices, planning and prevention of crisis behaviors, and who reinforce behaviors appropriate to the new way of doing business. It is clear to everyone how implementation will occur, how it will be monitored, and how realignment actions will be made and there are adequate resources dedicated for the life of the transformation.
- IT Capacity to Execute is the ability to perform all the IT tasks required by the project, including the skills, tools, processes, and management capability. There has been a recent successful execution of a similar endeavor of similar size and complexity and there exist appropriate processes, discipline, skills, and a rationale model for deciding what skills and activities to source externally.
- Enterprise Capacity to Execute is the ability of the enterprise to perform all the tasks required by the endeavor, in areas outside of IT, including the ability to make decisions within the tight time constraints typical to project environments based upon the recent successful execution of a similar endeavor of at least half the size and complexity. There exist non-IT-specific processes, discipline, and skills to deal with this type of endeavor. The enterprise has a demonstrated ability to deal with the type of ongoing portfolio/project management issues and requirements. There is a recognition of the need for knowledge and skill-building for the new way of working as well as the value of a formal gap analysis for skills and behavior.
- Enterprise Ability to Implement and Operate the transformation elements and their related business processes, absorb the changes arising from implementation, and ongoing ability to operate in the new environment. The enterprise has a recent proven ability to deal with the change management issues arising from new processes and systems and has in place a solid disciplined and process-driven service management program that provides operations, maintenance, and support for existing systems.
Once the factors have been identified and defined, it is useful to call a follow-on workshop where the factors shall be assessed in some detail in terms of their impact/risk. The next section will deal with preparing for an effective assessment of these factors.
Once the factors are determined, it is necessary to present them in such a way that the assessment is clear and the maximum value is derived from the participants.
One such presentation is through the use of maturity models. If each factor is converted into a maturity model (a re-usable governance asset as well) accompanied by a standard worksheet template containing all of the information and deductions that have to be gathered, it can be a very useful tool.
The maturity model should enable participants to:
- Assess their current (Baseline Architecture) maturity level
- Determine the target maturity level that would have to be achieved to realize the Target Architecture
- Determine an intermediate target that would be achievable in a lesser timeframe
The care spent preparing the models (which is not insignificant) will be recouped by a focused workshop that will rapidly go through a significant number of factors.
It is important that each factor be well-defined and that the scope of the enterprise architecture endeavor (preliminary planning) be reflected in the models to keep the workshop participants focused and productive.
Circulating the models before the workshop for comments would be useful, if only to ensure that they are complete as well as allowing the participants to prepare for the workshop. Note that the model shown below also has a recommended target state put in by the enterprise architect; this again acts as governance.
An example of a maturity model is shown in Figure 30-1 for one of the BTEP factors:
Figure 30-1: Business Transformation Readiness Assessment - Maturity Model
Ideally, the factors should be assessed in a multi-disciplinary workshop. Using a mechanism such as maturity models, enterprise architects will normally have to cover a great deal of ground in little time.
The use of a series of templates for each factor would expedite the assessment, and ensure consistency across the wide range of factors.
The assessment should address three things, namely:
- Readiness Factor Vision
- Readiness Factor Rating
- Readiness Factor Risks & Actions
The vision for a readiness factor is the determination of where the enterprise has to evolve to address the factor. First, the factor should be assessed with respect to its base state and then its target state.
For example, if the "IT capacity to execute" factor is rated as low, the factor should ideally be at "high" to realize the Target Architecture Vision. An intermediate target might be useful to direct the implementation. Maturity models are excellent vehicles to guide this determination.
Once the factor visions are established, then it is useful to determine how important each factor is to the achievement of the Target Architecture as well as how challenging it will be to migrate the factor into an acceptable visionary state.
The BTEP uses a Readiness Rating Scheme that can be used as a start point for any organization in any vertical. Each one of the readiness factors are rated with respect to:
- Urgency, whereby if a readiness factor is urgent, it means that action is needed before a transformation initiative can begin.
- Readiness Status, which is rated as either Low (needs substantial work before proceeding), Fair (needs some work before proceeding), Acceptable (some readiness issues exist; no showstoppers), Good (relatively minor issues exist), or High (no readiness issues).
- Degree of Difficulty to Fix rates the effort required to overcome any issues identified as either No Action Needed, Easy, Moderate, or Difficult.
Although a more extensive template can be used in the workshop, it is useful to create a summary table of the findings to consolidate the factors and provide a management overview. A like summary is shown in Figure 30-2.
Figure 30-2: Summary Table of Business Transformation Readiness Assessment
Once the factors have been rated and assessed, derive a series of actions that will enable the factors to change to a favorable state.
Each factor should be discretely assessed and a series of improvement actions outlined. Before starting anew, existing actions outlined in the architectures should be checked first before creating new ones.
These newly identified actions should then be formally incorporated into the emerging Implementation and Migration Plan.
From a risk perspective, these actions are designed to mitigate the risks and produce an acceptable residual risk. As risks, they should be part of the risk management process and closely monitored as the enterprise architecture is being implemented.
The assessment exercise will provide a realistic assessment of the organization and will be a key input into the strategic migration planning that will be initiated in Phase E and completed in Phase F. It is important to note whether the business transformation actions will be on the vision's critical path and, if so, determine how they will impact implementation. There is no point deploying new IT capability without employees trained to use it and support staff ready to sustain it.
The readiness factors, as part of an overall Implementation and Migration Plan, will have to be continuously monitored (Phase G) and rapid corrective actions taken through the IT governance framework to ensure that the defined architectures can be implemented.
The readiness factors assessment will be a living document and during the migration planning and execution of the Transition Architectures, the business transformation activities will play a key role.
The Architecture Definition should not be widely circulated until the business transformation issues are identified and mitigated, and the associated actions part of an overall "marketing" plan for the vision and the Implementation and Migration Plan.
For example, the consolidation of information holdings could result in hundreds of lost jobs and this vision should not be announced before a supporting business transformation/human resources plan is formulated to retrain or support the workers' quest for new employment.
The business transformation workshops are a critical part of the Communications Plan whereby key individuals from within the organization gather to assess the implications of transforming the enterprise. To do this they will become aware of the Architecture Vision and architecture definition (if they were not already involved through the business scenarios and Business Architecture). This group will feel ownership of the enterprise architecture, recognizing the enterprise architect as a valuable steward.
Their determination of the factors will again create a culture of understanding across the enterprise and provide useful insights for the Implementation and Migration Plan.
The latter plan should include a Communications Plan, especially to keep the affected personnel informed. In many cases collaborating with the unions and shop stewards will further assist a humane (and peaceful) transition to the target state.
In short, enterprise architecture implementation will require a deep knowledge and awareness of all of the business transformation factors that impact transitioning to the visionary state. With the evolution of IT, the actual technology is not the real issue any more in enterprise architecture, but the critical factors are most often the cultural ones. Any Implementation and Migration Plan has to take both into consideration. Neglecting these and focusing on the technical aspects will invariably result in a lackluster implementation that falls short of realizing the real promise of a visionary enterprise architecture.
- Refer to www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/btep-pto/index_e.asp.