Starting an SOA Initiative or Continuing the Journey?
It’s all in the approach
By: Kadeer Beg
Jan. 5, 2009 06:45 AM
Creating Company-Wide Consensus
At the onset of the project, it's non-negotiable that your cross-company team build consensus on the strategy and goals to ensure its success. Before you begin the actual IT construction of the project, here are 10 questions to present to the team to structure the conversation:
Once you've established an understanding of the strategy and direction, you can move forward on the actual approach to rolling it out to the organization. But just where do you start?
Three Proven Approaches to SOA: People, Processes and Information
However, based on data collected from thousands of successful deployments around the globe, the three approaches cited above are consistently viewed as the fastest, most effective routes to SOA.
A people-centric approach begins with fostering collaboration among employees, customers, and partners. Many people view this entry point from the glass and take into account the various ways that each person's role in the organization impacts another's. Based on this approach, the SOA project's starting point prioritizes the end-user's view and role.
Essentially, the people-centric approach is focused on boosting employee productivity, overall business efficiency and enabling various constituents in the organization to easily and quickly make critical business decisions for competitive advantage. After all, people, not technology, drive business decisions and the ability to make the right decision should be based on the collective thoughts of informed individuals with access to real-time data that is unleashed from its silos through an SOA infrastructure.
The process-centric approach to SOA focuses on the ways that your company runs its business. Each organization has established processes for executing tasks, from simple supply orders and expense report approvals to more complex activities such as managing and monitoring the entire supply chain or connecting a global team to create and design a new automobile.
All of these processes have steps that intersect nearly every part of the organization and require access to various applications and databases that may be strewn throughout the company. By outlining these business processes, companies can uncover redundancies and identify best practices that can be rolled out as services within the new architecture.
The process-centric approach to SOA enables users to streamline their business processes and seamlessly perform their roles. All of this is achieved without being hindered by application silos or other roadblocks on the way to improving productivity, accelerating speed-to-market and quickly responding to new business challenges.
The information-centric approach to SOA looks at information as a service that may be made available to your entire organization as well as customers and partners.
Using information as an entry point to SOA provides a powerful advantage in terms of consolidating erroneous or redundant data, ensuring consistency of information, and gaining a better understanding of the various types of information that are currently running your business, such as operational, unstructured, and transactional. In addition, you will be able to see how the information flows throughout the company and the way that it intersects with employee roles.
When a company employs the information-centric approach to SOA, it is assured of more consistent definitions and governance of critical business data. Further, as with all approaches to SOA, reuse of services saves both time and money while limiting exposure to human data errors.
The business drivers for your SOA will most likely determine your starting point. As companies progress on their SOA path, they eventually realize that they will need to mix and match their approaches as part of a larger strategy.
For example, a consumer e-retailer may begin with a people-centric approach and realize great success with its initial SOA project. As the architecture expands to include warehouse inventory, they may initiate their next project using an information-centric approach.
Regardless of the selected entry point, the most successful SOA deployments are those that began with one of the three recommended approaches: people, process or information.
While executive support is important, the success of your SOA will hinge, in large part, on the way that you execute your strategy. Selecting the entry point that is most closely aligned with the business goals is a critical first step because it will allow you to more quickly deliver tangible results that will not only inspire the team, it will also help illustrate to the entire organization that SOA is not just another "TLA" trend.
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