The mission of an IT Architecture Centre of Excellence (ITA CoE) is a discipline within an organization and is formed to advance the skills, knowledge, and practices pertaining to IT architecture, and to provide the business and its programs/projects with a complete and fit-for-purpose IT architecture service to meet its business and technology requirements. The concept of an ITA CoE is to build out key processes and IT architecture expertise across the enterprise. It is typically based on a technology, a critical process, or an application – to help the organization adopt that process and become efficient at it. A good example of an ITA CoE would be SAP. A more recent example is digital transformation. If an organization sees digital transformation as crucial to their success, they commit to developing an ITA CoE around the capabilities that support digital processes. From an enterprise perspective, the ITA CoE maps out how the process will be adopted across the organization. A ITA CoE focuses on operational excellence and provides three key benefits:
1. Adoption – Creates a framework for the enterprise for adopting change
2. Implementation – Builds the IT architecture blueprint and is responsible for implementation
3. Maintenance – Provides a IT architecture structure to for both maintenance and evolution
Members of an ITA CoE are IT architecture specialists who are involved in a wide range of IT architecture services supporting the business. The purpose of an ITA CoE is to achieve the following:
1. Reduce organizational risk through controlled IT architecture.
2. Improve the quality of service delivery.
3. Develop a core competency around a strategic capability for the enterprise.
4. Foster professional growth and development among employees (through training, coaching, and mentorship)
5. Overcome an overly vertical or siloed organizational structure.
6. Improve the relationship between IT and the business.
7. Rationalize delivery timelines for IT solutions.
8. Bring together a cross-functional group of stakeholders from all levels of an organization, giving them the space to focus their talents and expertise on a single process area, business activity, or capability.
9. Govern through appropriate resource allocation.
10. Provide research of emerging technologies and industry best practices.
Many organizations fail to achieve a successful ITA CoE over the long term because they lack clear vision, inappropriate funding, and/or a planned and well-communicated implementation. Thus, it is critical for an organization to consider these things up front and take the following steps:
Step 1: Define Strategy and Vision
The crucial part of creating success is to define the strategy and vision of the ITA CoE. Without a clear strategy and a vision, it’s unlikely the ITA CoE will improve the business. In order to guarantee success, you should create a mission statement and/or charter for your ITA CoE.
Step 2: Secure Funding
The second step involves the other important aspect of launching a ITA CoE: the funding. Poorly designed ITA CoEs can end up costing the business more money than they bring benefits, so it’s important to pay attention to the funding structure of the ITA CoE. You should understand that while ITA CoEs can help to reduce operational costs of a business, running a successful ITA CoE isn’t for free. In the long-term, the funding issues might become easier, but at the start, you’ll need quite a bit of capital to get going. In many instances, the senior management of the business will need to support the process, not only in terms of time but also in terms of money. The main question is whether the business can self-sufficiently run the ITA CoE or if outside funding is needed.
Step 3: Make the ITA CoE Operational
Once you have defined the strategy and vision of the ITA CoE and managed to organize the funding, you can start focusing on the operational side of running an ITA CoE. Five key areas of focus must be sorted out in order to establish a ITA CoE. These include: staffing, governance, marketing, measurement of the performance, and the position of the ITA CoE within the organization and its community.
IT Architects provides a service to deliver an IT Architecture Centre of Excellence (ITA CoE) for your organization, which is premised on the management of IT assets & resources and Organizational Change Management (OCM). Architects’ IT philosophy is founded on the achievement of organizational and IT excellence, and is based on the notion that IT architecture and organizational change management go hand-in-hand. In other words, IT architecture change cannot occur without understanding the impacts to the organization, and how those impacts will be managed to ensure transparent IT architectural change to the organization and its information technology landscape. In working with the organization to establish an ITA CoE, IT Architects will coach internally appointed IT architecture specialists and help them set up a practice to provide the following IT architecture services to your organization:
1. Validate business requirements and frame IT solutions. IT architecture specialists will work with business and IT staff to articulate business requirements and understand IT architecture possibilities to develop IT solutions.
2. Provide IT architecture methods & techniques. IT architecture specialists will share architecture methods & techniques (practices, strategies, principles, methodologies) that are effective and can help the business and project teams fulfill IT architectural requirements as they develop an IT solution.
3. Mentor business and IT participants. IT architecture specialists coach business and IT staff in using IT architecture techniques (processes and strategies) in achieving business process and system milestones while meeting the requirements of a supporting IT architecture foundation.
4. Guide IT architecture delivery. The primary mission of IT architecture specialists is to support individual and team learning in the delivery of a business solution. The IT solution usually follows the stage gates of a System Delivery Life Cycle (SDLC), and must meet the architectural standards supporting an overall enterprise architecture of the organization.
5. Organizing a Community of Practice. Very often an ITA CoE will initiate, or at least support the initiation of, one or more Communities of Practice to aid the delivery of a business system solution. For example, an Agile Community of Practice may be organized to provide Agile services to deliver an innovative business solution or emerging technologies, such as cloud and mobility, where standard delivery methodologies (i.e. waterfall) are not suitable and introduce risk to the enterprise architecture.
6. Govern IT solution delivery and IT architecture stability. An ITA CoE will often collect and track a metrics to help business and IT stakeholders govern IT solutions relative to IT architecture standards, and ensure IT architecture quality while optimizing the organization’s investment dollars.
IT Architects provides industry practices and frameworks for successful change management in order to help organization understand how to adapt to a competitive and changing business environment, while providing an IT architecture foundation to support business change. Thus, IT Architects takes three differentiated approaches to organizational change – directed change, planned change, and guided change – based on the concomitant challenges of the organization and their change agents. IT Architects provides a suitable framework which considers the appropriateness of these three approaches within the context of the relative business complexity and information technology maturity. Furthermore, two moderating factors – the change capacity of the organization and the urgency of the situation – are considered in the enablement of IT architecture and organizational change.
Architecture-as-a-Service Centre of Excellence
IT Architects teaches what it preaches and has established its own Architecture-as-a-Service Centre of Excellence in its offering of Architecture-as-a-Service (AaaS) providing services, resources, and remote consulting from its own Centre of Excellence location to deliver IT architecture services. This means that organizations no longer have to provide physical workspaces, computers, and other resources to accommodate onsite consultants. You can find IT Architects’ Architecture-as-a-Service (AaaS) here.