Managing your SOA portfolio for long-term success
Mary Forlenza 270001BN8C MARYF@US.IBM.COM | | Tags:  service_oriented_architec... soa governance portfolio_management service_oriented_
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Guest post by Claus T. Jensen, Senior Technical Staff Member and Chief Architect for IBM SOA-BPM-EA Technical Strategy
A Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is characterized by being based on a set of interacting (business) services and processes. Obviously those services and processes need to be managed, but is that all there is to managing a Service Oriented Architecture?
Many would routinely say "Yes" and let it stay at that, but three other important aspects need to be taken into account to enable improved business outcomes:
None of these are SOA-specific per se, yet all of them are required to maximize the value derived from your SOA investment. There is plenty of literature on service governance, but precious little on the higher level portfolio management capabilities required to mature a SOA initiative long term.
Furthermore, we often see an initially successful SOA initiative ultimately fail due to not transitioning properly from project mode to portfolio mode; an issue that is exacerbated by the proliferation of devices and channels, and the need to extend beyond the boundaries of the enterprise. This article deals with the portfolio aspects of managing a Service Oriented Architecture.
The purpose of SOA Portfolio Management and 4 key types
Generically, a portfolio is simply a collection of “stuff” with the following characteristics:
The purpose of portfolio management is to optimize the collection of “stuff” according to the defined criteria. The type of stuff being considered and the value criteria being applied will be different depending on a particular stakeholder viewpoint. For example, a CEO might ask if we have the right products, considering the portfolio of products offered by the company. A CFO might ask if we are making the right investments, considering the portfolio of investment opportunities. And an architect might ask if we have the correct architectural components, considering the portfolio of enterprise assets.
Most enterprises need the following four key types of portfolio management:
All of which need to integrate in a synergistic fashion as illustrated by the following figure:
For example, change portfolio management and resource portfolio management need to come together for effective definition and execution of change projects. Similarly, product portfolio management and asset portfolio management need to come together for effective configuration management, managing the dependencies and relationships between business products and the assets from which they are built.
It is quite natural for an architect or engineer to default to an asset portfolio view. Yet a good SOA architect will understand the need for taking the other three types of portfolio management into account, or even driving them in the case where no other stakeholder seems to take appropriate responsibility.
Change portfolio management
Many different stakeholders in and around the enterprise have both the right and the obligation to propose desirable changes as seen from their viewpoint. This statement holds true for the stakeholders that suggest changes based on operational improvement, for the stakeholders that suggest changes based on the long-term architectural direction of the enterprise, but also for the “management stakeholders,” the “auditor stakeholders,” the “public legislation stakeholders,” and so on. The key to integrated change portfolio management is to properly register, assess, and prioritize all of these potential changes. Optimizing the process of change begins with optimizing the selection of changes to execute.
Resource portfolio management
The resources that are available for change are always finite and never uniform. Assigning proper resources and skills to the desired change initiatives is the next key step to optimize the process of change. Some local control needs to be retained, or the organization will stall in extensive bureaucracy. Having said that, resources must also be available to prioritize for and assign to long-term enterprise-wide initiatives. Finding the proper balance between optimizing the current state (efficiency) and re-engineering the future state (effectiveness) is never easy, yet remains an important part of integrated portfolio management.
Product portfolio management
Finally, when changes are governed and resources properly controlled, an optimized change process can actively manage the portfolio of products that are offered by the enterprise. Organizations can adjust these products based on market trends and projections as well as current internal and external product performance.
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