By Don Michie •
Most of my day is spent helping IT organizations align their existing or planned investments to business strategies, goals and objectives. This is particularly prevalent in State government where IT finds itself maintaining and operating legacy systems that were developed in software languages that have gone the way of the Dodo.
These systems were built to serve specific project and program needs. While “modernizing” these systems through re-factoring, re-architecting, or re-writing brings about some economies of scale related to maintenance and operation, what is often missed is the opportunity to consolidate, remove redundancies, and create common capabilities that can be leveraged by not only the system being modernized but other projects and programs.
We need to manage IT investments as capabilities, not systems.
To realize these benefits, we need to manage IT investments as capabilities – not systems. According to Wikipedia, a capability is defined as “The ability to perform or achieve certain actions or outcomes” Managing by capabilities identifies commonalities while respecting the unique requirements of a system.
The key is to find a way to classify common and unique capabilities. Enter frameworks. There are numerous frameworks available that describe the macro level functions performed by organizations in specific verticals. Some of the most prevalent in State government are National Human Services Interoperability Architecture (NHSIA) and Medicare Information Technology Architecture (MITA).
Managing by capabilities identifies commonalities while respecting the unique requirements of a system. The key is to find a way to classify common and unique capabilities.
Identifying, adopting, and adapting one or more these frameworks not only identifies common and unique capability but more importantly creates a common language and structure for both IT and the business decision makers.
Mapping existing IT systems and planned IT investments into the business, information (data), application, and infrastructure viewpoints provides meaningful insight into common and unique capabilities. This insight can then be used by IT and the business to make informed investment decisions whether re-factoring, re-architecting, or re-writing.
This is the first in a five-part series. Tune in next month when we discuss a framework and practices to adopt and adapt them.