Enterprise Redevelopment Planning Overview
Basic changes in how organizations function and the overhauling of core business processes are forcing Information Systems (IS) organizations to define target information architectures that differ radically from existing environments. While defining an ideal strategic systems architecture is critical for IS management, few organizations have identified a transition strategy to attain these architectures. This results in missteps, false starts, canceled projects and lost revenue opportunities for many organizations. IS must address these issues by defining an architecture transition strategy to support strategic business requirements at the enterprise level.
A 1989 study polled senior IS executives as to why key systems have not been significantly updated or replaced. The most common answer, aside from "waiting on new technology", was that systems had "too many interfaces". The root cause of this is simple. Stand alone systems were built 20 to 25 years ago based on organizational structures that are now outdated. System interfaces were established using batch data links that no longer meet today's dynamic requirements.
As inadequate as the situation was, it has deteriorated further in recent years. Core systems have had functionality replicated in interface or downstream systems that now circumvent primary processing rules. Data warehousing, graphical user interfaces (GUI) and user based systems have evolved to address data integration requirements that core systems do not satisfy. Replacement and package deployment efforts have succeeded in partially replacing existing functions, but not to the point where legacy systems can be streamlined or eliminated.
As new architecture requirements emerge, it is clear that there is rarely a one-to-one correspondence between new systems and legacy counterparts. Without a transition strategy to map legacy data and functions to target environments, a simple issue such as knowing which functions should be deactivated becomes guesswork. Another transitioning challenge is maintaining functional synchronization during concurrent legacy maintenance and target design efforts in the same business area.
Process redesign and competitive pressures require that architectural weaknesses be corrected in core business systems. Attempts to address architectural redesign have been less than satisfactory. A recent survey indicated that over $16.5 billion is wasted annually on systems the user never sees. This will continue as long as piecemeal planning drives strategic IS projects.
Collectively these issues lead to the fact that IS must establish a comprehensive architecture transition strategy to prioritize and drive migration, integration, acquisition and replacement efforts of highly coupled, legacy applications. The Enterprise Redevelopment Planning stage of Comsys-TIM meets this objective.
Objectives and Benefits
Comsys-TIM guides an organization through the process of creating and implementing an architecture transition strategy. Enterprise Redevelopment Planning gathers key data and establishes the actual strategy. This stage assesses legacy environments, maps findings to strategic architecture requirements and recommends appropriate scenarios to execute application specific redevelopment projects. Once these requirements are defined for a given business area, recommended scenarios drive implementation through the remaining Comsys-TIM stages.
Benefits derived from the Enterprise Redevelopment Planning stage can be summarized as follows:
Enterprise Planning -- Task Summary
Enterprise Redevelopment Planning tasks are shown below.
Enterprise Redevelopment Planning Approach
The Enterprise Redevelopment Planning stage of Comsys-TIM contains five distinct tasks. These tasks include Enterprise Analysis Planning, Technical Architecture Assessment, Data Architecture Assessment, Business Architecture Assessment and Information Redevelopment Planning. The Enterprise Analysis Planning task defines assessment goals, establishes inputs, determines scope and finalizes the enterprise analysis project plan. Technical Architecture Assessment categorizes and inventories systems, documents existing technical attributes and compares current to target technical architectures.
The Business and Data Architecture Assessment tasks summarize high-level functional interdependencies, document current functional breakdown and compare the existing functional architecture with strategic information requirements. Finally, the Information Redevelopment Planning task links data gathered in prior tasks with previously established enterprise assessment goals. Final deliverables include enterprise level interface analysis, an architecture transition strategy and recommended redevelopment scenarios for individual application areas.
Enterprise Redevelopment Planning Utilization
Enterprise Redevelopment Planning ideally delivers a transition strategy to achieve an ideal information architecture. Applicability of the tasks within this stage may vary, however, based on assessment objectives. Selective tasks document system interfaces in support of a wide variety of enterprise-wide planning requirements.
The Year 2000 Enterprise Planning scenario, for example, requires a technical inventory and data structure interface analysis as the basis for building a Year 2000 strategy. Business process reengineering or business process redesign, on the other hand, uses some of the baseline input to support initial data gathering. Taken to its fullest extent, Enterprise Redevelopment Planning provides a comprehensive transition strategy for the scope of the information systems being assessed.
Completing an architecture transition strategy requires defining a target information systems architecture. Many organizations have defined a technical architecture, while business and data architectures remain vague. Comsys-TIM accommodates planning models derived from Information Engineering (IE) methodology. Under IE, the Information Strategy Plan (ISP) defines an Information Architecture, Business Architecture and Technical Architecture. Various models and matrices are produced as a result. These planning paradigms may not be utilized for simple enterprise inventory or Year 2000 planning projects.
Regardless of the strategic planning paradigm selected, organizations should use a formal, generally accepted set of representations to define target business, data and technical architectures. These inputs are then used as the vehicle for mapping current architectures to target architectures.
Finally, an enterprise redevelopment assessment delivers an enterprise information strategy that augments or can be merged with traditional planning results. This is accomplished by focusing more intently on the role of legacy systems in the transition process.
One result of this assessment is a recommended set of redevelopment scenarios that should be invoked based on enterprise-wide findings. Redevelopment scenarios address migration, integration, phased system shut down, downsizing and assorted stabilization projects for various application or business areas. The benefit of performing an enterprise-wide assessment is that a comprehensive set of interdependent factors is taken into account prior to embarking on individual application area redevelopment projects.
ERP Technology Support
Unlike other Comsys-TIM stages, Enterprise Redevelopment Planning does not lend itself to a wide variety of software tool support. Project planning and word processing tools are basic requirements. Mainframe based environmental analyzers support rapid scanning of multiple systems that typically contain tens of thousands of physical objects. The absence of environmental analysis tools support will result in orders of magnitude escalation of project work effort and/or highly questionable end results.
Planning tools, including the I-CASE planning workstation products, assist in reviewing strategic goals and high-level functions. The planning category also includes business process reengineering (BPR) tool support to document high-level data and business architectural flows. Data flow diagramming tools assist in documenting high-level interfaces.
One important, though not essential, technology is a project support repository. Large scale architecture transitioning, from enterprise level planning through final implementation and beyond, is particularly well suited to repository support. Comsys-TIM utilizes a Legacy Transition Meta-model or LTM that supports architecture documentation, transition mapping and functional concurrency management through each Comsys-TIM stage. Enterprise Redevelopment Planning begins the high-level repository population process.
It should be made clear at this point that a repository is not a requirement for this or any other Comsys-TIM stage. However, utilizing an open repository capable of representing legacy and target architecture meta-data, particularly for large scale efforts, is highly recommended. More information regarding the use of this repository can be found within various Comsys-TIM stages.
Descriptions of technology support recommendations are listed for each task within the Enterprise Redevelopment Planning stage. Specific tool guidelines for a given step may be found at the end of each step.
Enterprise Redevelopment Planning versus Inventory/Analysis
Organizations familiar with the Comsys-TIM Inventory/Analysis stage should note that this stage differs from the Enterprise Redevelopment Planning stage with respect to scope, depth of coverage and intent. While Enterprise Redevelopment Planning covers multiple functional areas, Inventory/Analysis is limited to systems directly impacted by a particular project. Further, Enterprise Redevelopment Planning provides a cursory analysis of functional and technical attributes, with a focus on interfaces, whereas, Inventory/Analysis extracts much more detail from the systems of interest.
Enterprise Redevelopment Planning suggests various redevelopment project scenarios as a result of its analysis. Inventory/Analysis typically is driven by a specific scenario or subset of scenarios. Finally, Enterprise Redevelopment Planning is likely to be executed once within an organization while Inventory/Analysis is executed for each project undertaken. Data gathered during an Enterprise Redevelopment Planning directly supports subsequent Inventory/Analysis efforts.
Architecture Transitioning Issues
Architecture transitioning is a largely overlooked requirement within senior IS levels. The transitioning approach facilitates phased legacy system shutdown, data structure migration and the implementation of radically different technical environments. The ongoing risk of project cancellation is managed under phased implementation windows grouped into relatively short time frames.
The advent of new technology has made it much easier to look for interim solutions such as middleware, GUI facades and a host of patchwork interfaces to legacy environments. Many of these solutions have value as long as they are viewed as interim measures. But occasionally management believes these approaches to be adequate and are reluctant to make the intellectual investment required to truly address the systems architecture dilemma. When this occurs, the negative statistics mentioned previously will continue to move in the wrong direction.