I met with a team of folks, enterprise architects, application managers, operations managers and executives responsible for various facets of IT in the organization. Everyone had a fairly sound perspective on SOA but the most pressing question was how to make SOA adoption something more than an IT endeavor with a focus on the question of what roles should business play in an SOA journey?
In the ideal world or situation business leaders understand
that differentiation and innovation is made possible by doing something
different. Every organization has access to the same technology, software
products and vendors. Like a car race, all competitors will more or less
have the same racing car design, same number of mechanics, same pit crew.
That being the case strategy means a lot. If you are behind someone,
you're going to be behind them until the finish line unless you do or try
something different. For some organizations it is this genesis that makes
business pay attention because the problem being addressed requires a change.
But this is the easy scenario, the one where business and IT
collaboration is necessary for time to value, for a market opportunity to be
However, even in this scenario there can be false starts. Where SOA is
treated solely as an IT endeavor and the focus is largely on the IT aspects of
service development with no consideration for the role of business stakeholders
to provide value beyond superior integration. Make no mistake improving
integration is good but there may be more opportunity for increased business
Other scenarios, most scenarios are not so easy and in this case the focus must take a grass roots effort where incremental successes become the selling point for more investments or SOA adoption is grounded in the immediate value project by project.
In all cases the more business participation presents the greater the success
of deployments because SOA is treated as a journey rather than an end
goal. Funding and governance take center stage versus an after thought.
When SOA is pursued solely as an IT improvement, strong possibilities
exist for derailment, loss of funding / support and for the proliferation of
services which don't make a huge impact on the business in terms of time to
Four business roles exist in the SOA journey which when enacted facilitate a successful SOA journey:
- Business analysts have a key role in SOA adoption as not only domain experts
and process modelers but stakeholders who see the possibility of identifying
business services that make a difference to the business across value chains
and domains. These analysts see the convergence of business process
management and SOA where services represent key steps or activities of business
Business analysts perform many activities such as process definition, simulation, optimization and assist with service identification.
- Business Architects emerge in some organizations
responsible for making aspects of the business strategy real. Business
Architects will have many of the skills found in Business analysts and IT
architects as this role blends aspects of both. However, they play an architect
role for the business domain in making the business strategy realized in
collaboration with IT.
Business Architects focus on reuse of models and assets (which include services) when realizing a process improvement and/or a new solution.
- Line of Business executive’s sponsorship role in promoting governance and supporting funding for realizing and deploying business services that they own and manage that bring value to others parts of the enterprise is also a key success factor. Such executives play a leadership role in making sure the overall business performance is met. Metrics, compliance and governance are top of mind.
- Senior Executives responsible for strategy who understand that successful strategy execution requires a confluence with Business and IT strategy which in turn embraces service orientation becomes another influence for incremental SOA adoption. Such executives become executive sponsors for the SOA journey and specific projects which embrace SOA thinking.