Coordinate IT and the
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Action No. 5: Coordinate IT and the Business
To make service-oriented architecture stick, adopters should make sure their IT departments and lines of business are talking.
Indeed, the services approach calls for close collaboration between technologists and the business side of the house. After all, a service is defined in terms of a specific business function, notes The Hartford's Ajjampur. "In order to really have a service-oriented architecture, you need to understand what the business wants to achieve," he says.
Some companies have launched groups designed to keep the conversation going. Thompson Learning recently assembled a chief technology officer council, comprised of CTOs from the group's business units. The council meets several times a year to create and refine technology strategies based on the units' business strategies.
"As a result, they make sure the technology strategy is in sync with the business strategy," says Ray Lowrey, a senior vice president and chief technology officer at Thomson Learning. As for development, the objective is to "make sure we are reusing services that exist and we are building things in such a manner that reuse is possible," Lowrey says.
The Bank of New York, meanwhile, also runs an enterprise architecture council. The council brings together architectural experts from across the bank's development activities, which are typically aligned with individual business lines. The group encourages the adoption of common services and also plays a role in reviewing applications proposed for development. Architectural approval is required for all software development projects at the bank.
A closer linkage between business and technology improves the chances that the information technology department delivers what business executives want. Motorola's Redshaw says the two sides haven't always communicated well and, as a result, prototypes have been iterated multiple times. "With the new model, the feedback we got from business was: 'Wow, a prototypethat's exactly what we wanted,'" he says.