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Chapter 7 examined the role that knowledge management (KM) can play in enabling IT organization performance. As that case study illustrates, PMO personnel can help leverage the assets of a IT knowledge base to foster collaboration and communication within the enterprise's IT organization. Through the repurposing and reuse of knowledge artifacts, service and project teams will save time, avoid past mistakes, and build on past learning. But KM may serve other ends than IT process improvement. IT professionals also need help in working with vast bodies of technical information about the computer hardware and software deployed across the enterprise. Here, too, KM can make a difference by supplying a framework for the creation, organization, maintenance, and dissemination of data about the enterprise's IT products, whether planned or in play.
Chapter 8 explores a KM approach to IT architecture planning and management. The PMO team is the body of IT professionals best positioned to gather the information and associated artifacts to support the envisioned architecture process. And, like Chapter 7's case study, the example that follows illustrates how PMO personnel, employing a Web infrastructure, can engage technical experts from across IT to draw out this knowledge. In this chapter's example, a PMO-facilitated team leverages the explicit and tacit technical knowledge of New England Financial (NEF) personnel to create an accurate depiction of the current state and, more importantly, to extrapolate from this foundation, deriving a vision and plans for the extension of the enterprise's IT architecture.
The rapid pace of business change and IT innovation demands highly flexible and responsive, yet strategic, planning and procurement processes. For that matter, IT's ability to deliver services and projects successfully depends, to a certain extent, on the availability of the right technology architecture. Thus, the theme of IT architecture planning integrates well with the themes of delivery management and PMO enablement. Unfortunately, many IT organizations, burdened with the responsibility of meeting the day-to-day requirements of the enterprise, have all they can do simply to keep up with immediate needs. As a consequence, technology planning and investment strategies tend to be reactive and focused on a short-horizoned return on investment (ROI). In these circumstances, more long-term strategic thinking and research gets set aside as the enterprise's IT leadership deals with the pressing challenges of the moment.
Yet, year after year the IT industry trade press reports that the paramount concerns of CIOs are:
Aligning their IT investments with their organizations' business strategies
Containing technology costs while leveraging IT-enabled process improvements
How does one balance this need for immediate IT-enabled results that fall to the corporate bottom line with the corresponding need to position the enterprise's technology infrastructure to anticipate future business requirements? And how can this work get done without adding to staffing costs or detracting from immediate IT team commitments? Concerns for the present management and for the future planning of an IT architecture need not be mutually exclusive. Indeed, the NEF case study will describe how an organization's IT architecture process fueled the continuous updating and improvement of its technology investments, even as it positioned the enterprise's future technological capabilities. Furthermore, this was achieved without adding personnel and while engaging a cross section of the IT organization in technology planning.
This example embraces a practitioner's approach as tested and proved in a real-world work environment.  Throughout, I focus on the processes required for effective, efficient, and comprehensive IT architecture planning aligned with the business objectives of the enterprise. As noted previously in this volume, rather than endorsing rigid application of my framework, I encourage the reader to reflect on the following narrative and adapt its examples and suggestions to the particulars of his or her work setting. In the final analysis, the success of IT architecture planning relies on the practitioner's clarity of vision, intellectual rigor, and commitment to a sustained process. Excellence in these activities will inevitably lead to the judicious use of enterprise resources in the identification and procurement of appropriate information technologies.
For a period of time, the author served as the vice president of planning of New England Financial Information Services (NEF/IS), the IT arm of New England Financial, a member of the MetLife family of companies. Among his responsibilities, the author was responsible for business and technology planning, as well as the IT architecture process for NEF/IS. He was assisted by Tor Stenwall, senior technical architect for NEF/IS, now retired.
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