Executive Insight: Michael Tiemann – The Importance of Enterprise Architecture for your Agency
Michael Tiemann, Program Director and Senior Faculty with the Federated Enterprise Architecture Certification (FEAC) Institute, is the emcee at DGI’s 10th annual Enterprise Architecture event. An expert on EA, he will lead the event held in connection with the annual FEAC CEA Symposium. Read DGI’s interview with him.
DGI: What’s so important about EA at every agency?
MT: EA is the only mechanism that can effectively transform the government. For this to happen, it must permeate not only every department and agency but also all programs as a management support mechanism. It is important because it can set the government as a whole on a path of better performance at lowered costs.
DGI: Hasn’t EA lost its Mojo, and aren’t the systems already in place working? Does it have to be upgraded and refreshed all the time?
MT: Just like a lot of others here, you have superimposed EA with systems. One result of EA is better and more dependable cheaper systems. However, EA is really about the functioning of government systems or not. And as to systems functioning, the US government has many legacy systems dating back to the late 1980 that are hobbled and virtually unsupportable. They must, with the programs and processes they support , be re-architected.
DGI: Can you give me a couple of examples of the good ways EA works to provide a streamlined, efficient operation?
MT: When agencies architect and model/analyze their systems, they find out some programs are over automated with duplicate nonintegrated systems/solutions which is wasteful and costly. They find out some programs that could be automated or use technology to improve have none (gaps), and they often find related opportunities like to share services or capabilities rather than each buying and supporting its own. For example, under the FEA, the federal pay systems went from 27 to four or so. How can anyone not see the savings in this kind of result? Another thing is that EA naturally identifies dormant programs, solutions and systems. Frankly, the new 25-point plan for IT Reform cannot be effectively implemented without EA.
DGI: Is EA prepared to adapt to the changing demands of the cloud, increased security and consolidated data centers?
MT: These are the kinds of things that EA organizes and effectively and efficiently can support without damage to the programs they support. Doing these by fiat without a structured prioritized planned transition is reckless and dangerous. In a building you don't just start ripping out walls and structure until you have analyzed the potentials for damage and failure if the structure.
DGI: What’s the biggest advantage of EA?
MT: Adding value to mission capabilities is way ahead of saving money although it does that as well. Does it save an agency any money? Of course, sharing and reusing data saves enormous amounts of money. Analyzing requirements before code is written saves an order of magnitude in costs as the implementation progresses. Fixing flaws early in models is much cheaper than fixing them later in implemented software or in operational context. Government transformation cannot be done (effectively and efficiently) without EA. Well it can be done, but if it were a plane I wouldn't fly in it.
DGI: How do I make my EA more robust?
MT: EA programs have many levels of maturity. Programs need a different set of models and different analysis than say a whole department. Most agencies started identifying and completing segment architectures a few years ago and then stopped. Completion of the segments will drive EA practices deeper into organizations where monetary savings and process enablement are needed to be found and made to happen. At every layer, EA can contribute and be made more robust. EA is the only mechanism that ensures traceable line of sight from resource investments through business/mission results to strategic objectives.
DGI: So tell me again why EA is so important?
MT: It is critical to fixing many of the currently unfixed problems facing government and for the nation. It is a disciplined approach to running and designing enterprises that is based in science and engineering practices. With financial crisis, healthcare challenges, energy issues and a plethora of other important work, government must work better and cost less, and that's really what EA is about. We need EA today now more than ever.