At enterprise level agility can be understood as a mix of versatility and plasticity, the former an attribute of function, the latter of form:
- Versatility: enterprise ability to adapt business processes to changing environments without having to change architectures.
- Plasticity: enterprise ability to change architectures without affecting business processes.
Combining versatility and plasticity requires a comprehensive and consistent view of assets (architectures) and modus operandi (processes) organized with regard to change. And that can be achieved with model based systems engineering (MBSE).
MBSE & Change
Agility is all about change, and if enterprise governance is not to be thrown aside decision-making has to be supported by knowledgeable descriptions of enterprise objectives, assets, and organization.
If change management is to be the primary objective, targets must be classified along two main distinctions:
- Actual (business context and organization) or symbolic (information systems).
- Objects (business entities or system surrogates) or activities (business processes or logic).
The two axis determine four settings supporting transparency and traceability:
- Dependencies between operational and structural elements.
- Dependencies between actual assets and processes and their symbolic representation as systems surrogates.
Versatility and plasticity will be obtained by managing changes and alignments between settings.
Changes & Alignments
Looking for versatility, changes in users’ requirements must be rapidly taken into account by applications (changes from actual to symbolic).
Looking for plasticity, changes in business objectives are meant to be supported by enterprise capabilities (changes from operational to structural).
The challenge is to ensure that both threads can be weaved together into business functions and realized by services (assuming a service oriented architecture).
With the benefits of MBSE, that could be carried out through a threefold alignment:
- At users level the objective is to ensure that applications are consistent with business logic and provide the expected quality of service. That is what requirements traceability is meant to achieve.
- At system level the objective is to ensure that business functions and features can be directly mapped to systems functionalities. That is what services oriented architectures (SOA) are meant to achieve.
- At enterprise level the objective is to ensure that the enterprise capabilities are congruent with its business objectives, i.e that they support its business processes through an effective use of assets. That is what maturity and capability models are meant to achieve.
That would make agility a concrete endeavor across enterprise, from business users and applications to business processes and architectures capabilities.
- EA: Maps and Territories
- EA: Work units & Workflows
- Thread: Agile
- Agile between Space & Time
- The Scope of Agile Principles
- Agile vs Waterfall: Right vs Left Brain ?
- Thinking about Practices
- Architecture Knowledge
- Architecture Capabilities
- Abstractions & Emerging Architectures
- Alignment: from Empathy to Abstraction
- Enterprise Architecture & Separation of Concerns
- From Processes to Services
- EA & MDA