Product Engineering

Applying Enterprise Architecture Rightly

Enterprise Architecture

Prologue
EA is a topic that is highly in debate and there are many frameworks like TOGAF, Zachman that help in defining the enterprise. This article takes reference of TOGAF for the discussion. While practicing TOGAF, it’s always implied that TOGAF is a suggestive approach and NOT a prescriptive approach.

Xoriant has recently forayed into TOGAF with the help of newly formed TOGAF Certified Architects and is committed to provide solutions to the clients on the proven success stories.

Background

Many a times, while interacting with business houses, requirements always start with a single line or sometimes, even a clause, e.g., – We need ERP. This is where a business canvas is provisioned and plans are made to evaluate the opportunity and provide information on that. Considering entire lifecycle of a business opportunity, it’s very important to put the right starting step so that Service Provider does not incur losses. This can be best illustrated through details below.
Business Canvas
On a very broad level, a Business Canvas looks as below:

Enterprise Architecture

The various parts of Canvas are:
Customer Segments – Targeted end users segmented on needs and attributes.
Value Proposition – Set of products and services that distinguish from competitors.
Channels – Business Vehicle to deliver value proposition, e.g., Store Fronts, SCM solutions.
Customer Relationships – Different levels of interactions with customers such as Personal Assistance, Self Service etc.
Revenue Streams – Means of incurring revenue such as Sale, Usage fee, Subscription fee, Licensing etc.
Key Resources – Various types of assets creating value for the customer. Typically classified as Human, Financial, Physical or Intellectual.
Key Activities – Most important activities in achieving business proposition.
Key Partners – Strategic Business Alliances, JVs that help in optimizing operations and reducing risks of business model.
Core Structure – Most important costs inherent in Business model. Typically associated with Key Resources, Key Partners, Key activities classified into fixes and variable costs.
TOGAF as ADM (Architecture Development Method)
TOGAF targets any enterprise problem to reach the suggestive solution. TOGAF model can be symbolized as below:

Enterprise Architecture
Hypothetical Use Case: Merging Insurance Solutions
AllCovered Insurance Corporation has three distinct Insurance Domains:

  1. Home Insurance – Retail and Corporate Customers
  2. Car Insurance – Retail Customers
  3. Legal Expense Insurance – Corporate Customers

Core Management decided to have merger of all 3 domains and provide a unified solution so that customer experience becomes seamless. The new name is assumed as InsBrella (Insurance + Umbrella).

The below points explain how TOGAF can be mapped to such Use Case.

At each phase, all the generated artifacts were stored in a common repository.
Business Canvas

Heading Description
Customer Segments Retail Customers

Corporate Customers

Value Proposition Unified, single platform user experience

Scheduled reminders for payments

Cross-sell products information based on past history and CIBIL score

Discounts and sharing NCB benefits across different types of policies

Benefits on bringing new customers

Channels Emails

Phone Calls

Newsletters

Social Marketing over FaceBook, Twitter

Retail outlets of Mahindra Service Centers

Customer Relationships Call Center

SMS

Web Interface for complaint resolutions

Revenue Streams Sale and cross-sale

Renewal of insurance

Cheap offers on switching from competitor

Key Resources Financial Records

CIBIL Scores

Customer Interaction and payments history

Call Center Executives

Strategic Service Partners

Key Activities Development and deployment of system

Integration with Mahindra Service Center solution

Integration with other strategic partners

Key Partners Mahindra Service Centers

MailChimp

Twilio

Azure

Core Structure InsBrella Team

Board of architects governed by EA

Implementation Team

Strategic alliance management team

Call Center

Preliminary Phase
Management focusses primarily on 3 things:

  1. Quality
  2. Priority
  3. Passion

Commonalities

  1. Similar business models
  2. Similar approaches of customer acquisition and marketing
  3. Loyal customer base

Strategize and Mobilize

A team of EA analyzed the commonalities of the proposed solution and targeted for:

  1. Reduction in costs
  2. Compete in low cost market
  3. Seamless User Experience

EA Team gathered all information via Interviews, Group Discussions, Fixed Questions, Scenario Questions.

To help in suggesting the best solution, SWOT and five forces analysis was conducted. A sample view of five force analysis looks like:

Enterprise Architecture
Phase A (Architecture Vision)
Based on the details available from Preliminary Phase and business strategies, following strategic options were identified:

  1. Introduction of Value Added Services to differentiate from competitors
  2. Introduction of Insurance packages for cross selling
  3. Target new customer segments
  4. Invest in IT to become agile
  5. Reducing customer defaulters and claim payment issues

An enhanced view of one of the offerings (Auto Insurance) is as follows (where Orange color indicates new services introduction).

Enterprise Architecture

Business House decided to have a strategic partnership with original component vendors and Mahindra Service Centers to have reduced costs, optimized inventories and assured businesses.
Phase B to Phase D (Business Architecture, Information Systems Architecture and Technology Architecture)
EA Team at InsBrella ran through multiple iterations for optimizing the platform. The end result of this being a design of Agile and scalable solution using Polyglot database. At this point, all the ideas were technology agnostic and none of the platforms / technologies was selected.
Phase E to Phase G (Opportunities and Solutions, Migration Planning, Implementation Governance)
Various COTS solutions were evaluated to align implementation with Architecture. At the end, following is the list of some of the components selected:

  1. .NET – Application level Services
  2. Azure Services – To host platform and build solution in agile, resilient manner
  3. Zapier – To connect various platforms
  4. MailChimp – Marketing purpose
  5. Twilio – SMS Gateway

While selection, great attention was given for ease of development and maintenance along with strategic partnerships and subscriptions with 3rd party services to reduce cost and bring more agility. Multiple rounds of discussion were organized so as to cover:

  1. Application Security
  2. Data Security
  3. Information Security
  4. Identity Management
  5. Application Resiliency

In order to migrate information to InsBrella, discussions were conducted for:

  1. Identifying common customers and merging data
  2. Protecting existing history of customers
  3. Unified customer records under single identity
  4. Integration with CIBIL services to gain insights on CIBIL score and offer cross-sells / prevent customer risks

Once an Architecture has been defined, EA team typically handles all implementation through PMO who are typically PMP / SCRUM Certified Professionals capable of handling entire implementation lifecycle.
Phase H (Architecture Change Management)
This was handled at each iteration. It’s typically a retrospection and introspection activity to identify the issues and handle them well in the next set of execution.
Epilogue
For a successful execution, based on the details mentioned above, it’s prominent that lot of things ride on the correct architecture and selection of technologies. In the referenced scenario, to achieve the final goal, following applications can be used:

Creating user stories and workflows: Microsoft Visio

Maintaining central Documents Repository with Metamodel: Troux

Project Lifecycle Management: Team Foundation Server

Application Development: Microsoft .NET Stack hosted on IIS Web Server and Windows Server

Xoriant has team of very mature Architects capable of handling virtually any vertical via systematic approach. The right mix of persons with proven track of success across various solutions and clients ensure that the proposed solutions are cost effective, have better ROIs and reduced long term maintenance cost with optimum agility.