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FCW : October 2014
Again and again at EA 2014 — an annual conference on enterprise archi- tecture that is now in its 12th year — speakers and attendees focused not on the nuts and bolts of their craft but on the more fundamental challenge of getting others in government to under- stand and value what they do. Part of the problem, of course, is that enterprise architects are trying to bring structure and consistency to the messy hodgepodge that is agency operations. That’s a goal they share with many agency CIOs (to whom the chief architect often reports), but there are other agency stakeholders who like their little corner as it is. “People are comfortable with their own turf,” one attendee noted during a session, “and they’re not interested in the enterprise perspective.” Another attendee at the confer- ence, which was sponsored by 1105 Media, said, “To a point, differentiation is understandable and necessary, but collaboration is more important.” Chris Chilbert, the Department of Homeland Security’s chief architect, sympathized with the skeptics. The charges that EA can prioritize concept What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate National Security Agency employees are devoted to privacy compliance efforts 300 Trending and structure over on-the-ground reali- ties is sometimes valid, he said, and “we aren’t the ones getting that call at 2 in the morning because some system has gone down.” Helen Schmitz, an enterprise archi- tect in DHS’ Information Sharing Envi- ronment Office, said an enterprisewide architecture cannot be the end goal. “The desired state is to provide tools that are used every day.... It’s about enabling things to happen.” She has identified several key steps for making sure EA doesn’t produce yet more shelfware. Always “deliver with a purpose or an end in mind, to fill a need,” she said. “Deliver quickly, and limit scope.” And “follow through. Don’t just design it — make it happen.” Furthermore, “there is power in developing a vision,” and graphics can help key stakeholders understand that broader context, but “it has to be more than pretty pictures,” she said. Nitin Naik, director of strategic planning and technical direction at the Internal Revenue Service, said the key at his agency had been getting archi- tects, key stakeholders, end users and developers all talking. By bridging the gap between high-level planning and program-level development, Naik said, the IRS’ most recent EA initiatives have minimized the risk of program failure, identified “commonalities in IT capa- bilities across lines of business” and promoted “common services to sup- port those capabilities.” The consensus, however, was that examples like Naik’s are still few and far between. As another attendee put it during Chilbert’s presentation, “the biggest problem is that we as archi- tects fail to articulate the value of EA within the organization. We keep trying to explain what EA is when what we should probably be doing is explain- ing...what we can do for you.” — Troy K. Schneider and Jonathan Lutton FCW CALENDAR Managing innovation At this two-day ACT-IAC Academy, George Mason University Entrepreneur-in-Residence Jim Wolfe will explore the tools and techniques for leading innovation in organizations that often suppress it. Fairfax, Va. http://is.gd/FCW_academy Navy IT The Department of the Navy’s Kevin Cooley, Victor Gavin and Matthew Swartz will discuss the working relationship between the Navy’s 10th Fleet and the acquisition community at this AFCEA Washington luncheon. Arlington, Va. http://is.gd/FCW_NavyIT 11/13-14 10/27 Cybersecurity Ron Ross, a National Institute of Standards and Technology computer security fellow, will keynote this half-day FCW conference on the latest guidance to help agencies comply with cybersecurity policies. Washington, D.C . http://is.gd/FCW_cyberguidance 11/19 October 2014 FCW.COM 3 “The biggest problem is that we as architects fail to articulate the value of EA within the organization.”
September 30, 2014
November and December 2014