Working Agile in the Enterprise
ScottNiemann 270003Y0JB Visits (1988)
Every day, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) around the world perform a balancing act between the need for new business initiatives and technology versus the need to contain costs and ensure overall efficiency. With exploding data traffic and the ever mounting pressure to reduce spending, CSPs will be forced to find new and innovate ways to reduce expenditures while improving operational efficiency. However legacy architectures and processes, disparate systems, and outdated applications result in high maintenance costs, leading to CSPs inability to deliver new services rapidly.
To achieve this balance, organizations must close the gap between business planning and execution, especially execution that is dependent on software solutions. Enterprise Architecture addresses this balancing of business and IT strategies, and for CSPs, this is done through an industry standard from TM Forum called Frameworx. Frameworx provides a Business Process Framework (eTOM) which is an industry agreed upon multi-layered view of the key business processes a CSP requires to run their business, as well as a unifying Integration Framework, which ties the various components of Frameworx together. It is a very powerful blueprint that clearly spells out business and operational views in order to get the business and IT to effectively collaborate with one another.
However Frameworx by itself is just a blue print, while it defines the necessary business and operational views, it doesn’t ensure clear and unambiguous communication in and of itself. For a CSP, its very important to be Agile, as they are in hyper competitive market with very high customer churn. Frameworx must be applied in an agile manner as to break down the silos between the different parts of the organization so that more stakeholders are involved in the decision making process, and planning is done in real time. This can be done by applying some agile industry imperatives around the implementation of Frameworx, that really enable it to be much more powerful than just a static blueprint for a service provider to follow.
One key agile imperative is the notion real time planning. One big issue CSPs can face is getting IT to deliver something that fully supports the goals of the business. Mostly this is because of a communication barrier as these organizations often work in silos and work off plans that have been done independently. Real time planning is the notion of first moving the organization to a lean structure where more stakeholders are not only aware of decisions being made, but are encouraged to provide input to decisions. Planning is done in a continuous manner and updates are received real time by all the participating stakeholders. Planning becomes part of process, not something performed in a vacuum. In case of the CSP decision making process, the more input coming from the various stakeholders, including the customer, the better decisions can be made on what types of services the CSP should focusing. This data also gives them direction on how to transform their enterprise to support data explosion, cloud transformation, increased operational efficiency, etc.
Another key best practice is the notion of lifecycle traceability. Ultimately many of components defined using Frameworx are going to have a software implementation behind it. These applications which define the business and operations support systems of the CSP should have traceability beginning from inception or requirements all the way down to deployment. The traceability can also enable the service provider the ability to pinpoint how and when to leverage new services and technologies to improve efficiency and agility by allowing them to change business architectures in response from new data coming. Change can be very common in such a dynamic market and having an architecture that’s actionable through lifecycle traceability is critical for a CSP to survive.
Are real time planning and lifecycle traceability it? No, but I find that these form the base of a strong structure, without them productivity improvement form other imperatives don't go as far. You can't put the icing on the cake unless you have the cake first, as they say. IBM Rational does have more information on how we support Frameworx, if you are interested please check out this webcast.