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Special Report: Application Lifecycle Management

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Managing Enterprise Governance: When the Enterprise Outgrows the Span of Control
Discover how EA and governance give managers the necessary tools for streamlining user services and creating platforms that deliver faster and cheaper services.
by Mike Dunham

June 1, 2006

After toiling for years, enterprise architecture (EA) is now beginning to bear its promised fruits of providing managers with the tools necessary for streamlining services to users, and creating the long-promised platforms to deliver faster and cheaper services. The current push within the federal government to build out the lines of business and service-oriented architecture (SOA) demonstrates this progress.


As we draw closer to realizing these transformational changes in services, we must also begin the process of creating the new delivery platforms they require. Some cautionary words are in order. To develop the platforms through which these services will be delivered, we must rethink the traditional top-down, command and control management structures that govern service delivery today. The organizations responsible for managing the development and delivery of services will likely be loosely federated entities. These entities will be composed of both internal- and external-agency stakeholders, and lack a shared management structure. They require complex governance structures to support their operations.

Defining Your Governance Structures
To work successfully with these multi-tiered organizations, you must define your governance structures. Here are some questions to help you create this definition:

  • Which stakeholders set policy for the enterprise?
  • What are the relationships among all internal and external stakeholders? What is the process flow among them?
  • Who "owns" the product or service at each stage of the process?
  • What are the funding sources? Who controls them? How are the funds allocated among the stakeholders?
  • How are interoperability standards set and managed within the enterprise?
  • How is quality control managed?
  • What processes are use to settle disputes among stakeholders?

Because these new organizations lack a command and control hierarchy, you should anticipate that it will be challenging to get the stakeholders to collaborate and answer these questions. You must create common ground amongst the stakeholders so that they can work together to achieve the level of collaboration required for delivering services. Creativity, as the manager, is also required.

The Link Between EA and Governance
EA as a discipline can generate lots of mischief. It succeeds when new enterprise solutions and service delivery opportunities are identified. But EA does not play a part in making governance structures operational. That is your problem to resolve. Perhaps more enterprise architects should consider governance when recommending solutions?

Any worthy enterprise solution brings together a variety of stakeholders, over whom there is a limited span of control. Many of these stakeholders reside in outside agencies, including state and local government. These stakeholders have generally narrow focuses around a shared service of interest, or the specific service offering provided by the enterprise. And their interest in the enterprise is quite prosaic: How does this initiative impact their ability to provide service? In creating enterprise solutions, the span of the enterprise often outgrows management's span of control for delivering services. Your ability to manage the stakeholder's delivery of results is compromised accordingly.

Consequently, governance is a domain over which no one management discipline exercises exclusive control. It has broader policy implications about how services are linked to a mission and how funds are allocated. Issues of this magnitude require input from a broad spectrum of offices in the management chain. It is not always clear who has the decision-making authority. If your governance structure has multiple owners, then it's either owned by everyone or no one.

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