A Greener Enterprise Architect

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse = The Right Thing to Do!

I’ve used the slogan “Reduce, Recycle, Reuse” before but in a different context. It is something I’ve been thinking about lately in an enterprise architecture context. I don’t know when Reduce, Recycle, Reuse was termed and the all knowing Wikipedia couldn’t help pinpointing its origin but at its core it is about rethinking waste. If we relate this mantra to enterprise architecture the meaning doesn’t change much. EAs rethink wasteful investments. These are investments that don’t help the business achieve its objectives. I propose that EAs need to reduce risks, recycle ineffective processes and reuse learned value.

EAs should have visibilities into corporate risks. Let’s not paint all risks as something that is imminent and negative but more of an opportunity to course correct and prepare for something that is not desirable in relation to achieving corporate objectives. For example, well run companies have a healthy pool of talented, trained and promotable leaders to accommodate a variety of leader transitions. This is a leadership risk mitigation strategy. There are many areas in which EAs can help corporations accommodate for multiple types of risk mitigation strategies. EAs should work with corporate strategists to plan for possible future events e.g. market changes like a new desirable taste in a cracker or emergent competitors that undercut costs. If the EAs know in advanced that a certain business event like the acquisition of a supplier could occur then they should plan for certain systems and processes to require a bit more agility to promote a more rapid acquisition. Another example, the public relations arm of a company starts to realize some notions of impending regulatory change. EAs should have the opportunity to introduce some “what if” scenarios to help realize how those changes will affect the business and the systems that support the business. This scenario may give some short-term tangible benefits of pointing out some weak capabilities that need improvement, e.g. report and data warehouse. These are examples of how EA can help reduce corporate risks.

There are areas in business where something isn’t a risk but may be nearly ineffective. EAs can find infectivity when the cost of a part of the business is not equal to the shareholders value plus the risk potential. EAs should have mechanisms to identify ineffective business processes that are candidates for recycling. I’ve seen parts of a business that are ineffective against the corporate mission. You can spot them when you ask why something exists and the answer is because we’ve always done it that way. EAs can work with business SMEs and redesign the necessary business process to align with the corporate mission. For example, I witnessed some craziness with SOX controls in 2002. Well, in 2004 some of the large control processes and system that were put in place were very costly but and some process weren’t required. So, the EA team worked with the process owners and had them implement the process on more effective systems and in the more effective part of the business. So the SOX enforcements processes were recycled into more appropriate areas of the business and on more effective systems.

Lastly, EAs should possess the ability to help reuse successful business processes. I’m sure the Ray Kroc (Mcdonald’s Leader) went through multiple French Fry assemble processes before he found the one that was successful enough to replicate. This is a fairly simple concept but can be difficult for company’s managers to accept because of politics, you know the win at all costs mentality. EAs should be able promote win/win solutions. For example, let say a company has multiple costly systems to support nearly similar business processes, Order 4 Cash for instance. In this scenario EAs may suggest that the more costly processes fold into the more effective system. As long as the EAs have the support of company leadership and the EAs display objectivity via following governing principles and company standards, the business community should be able to effectively unite the processes.

By no means is this all that EAs do but I feel this should be more prominent in the EAs scope of work. I propose EAs sanction the mantra of Reduce, Recycle and Reuse. EAs should be closely aligned with the business in its strategy to help find and define its risk mitigation strategies. EAs should have metrics in place to find opportunities to help business’s productivity. EAs should be able to find the productive areas of the business to help replicate successes.

BTW: I just added a disclaimer to this site because i just read a company policy. In the spirit of this post I reduced corporate risk and reused some verbiage from a very smart person.

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