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business128765.jpgAnalysts, vendors and end users alike appear united in their enthusiasm for SOA.  Recently the Butler Group tells us that only 3% of organisations have rejected SOA. In a recent survey by systems integrator Griffiths Waite found that 2008 is a critical year for SOA implementation, with 15% of organisations already running SOA but a much larger 38% progressing towards it. Of the 47% still “contemplating” it, Giffiths Waite says “evidence suggests these will [start to] move into strategising and planning”.

However it has to be said that despite these figures scepticism about SOA is starting to appear along with news of the first SOA casualties. Anne Thomas Manes, VP and Research Director with the Burton Group, recently blogged about her ongoing research with enterprises implementing SOA. She says:

“…I think I’ve become a bit jaded from the interviews, …[because] it has become clear to me that SOA is not working in most organisations.”

She goes on to describe how despite the “stunningly beautiful” SOA infrastructures these companies have developed, their SOA initiatives “invariably stall out”. She says: “The techies just can’t sell SOA to the business. They have yet to demonstrate how all this infrastructure yields any business value. More to the point, the techies have not been able to explain to the business units why they should adopt a better attitude about sharing and collaboration – which is the fundamental cultural shift required for SOA to succeed… As one of my interviewees said, ‘Altruism is not an enterprise strategy.’”

It is hard for what is essentially an IT initiative that is utterly dependent on business buy-in to get it.  So how do you sell it to the business? For my experience the best way is to turn selling SOA to the business into a mini PR project taking a strong hint from Alan Cooper work on Personsa’s and TOGAF Architectural Views

When selling SOA to the business it’s wise not to just target the individuals incharge of budgets and give them that standard definitions and turn it into an technology education session. These people will have others that influence them and report to them, all of them will have specific view-points so it is worth preparing sessions that cater directly to their needs rather than getting lost in the big picture, use Business Analysts to help identify their concerns, likes and dislikes, in other words get to know your audience. This will be time consuming but ultimately allows people from IT and Business at a non-management level to interact which will do more for business/IT alignment than any Gartner report because you are listening to each other, this is priceless. Also alot of detail will come out so ensure that your requirements capture process/tool is up to scratch because it will get a hammering, capturing as much as you can because it’s all this is lthe level where SOA is made or broken down, keep the process moving by recording and moving on.

This leads me on to my next point, I’m not sure it’s wise to have business and technical staff at different locations and different time zones. Alignment comes with good relationships, you can’t make friends via requirement documents and email. Global organisation or not you will lose money going backwards and forwards and lost time in misunderstandings.

SOA effects business and technology further than most methodologies have done in recent years, how many can claim to need a change to business process? So, take business with you to avoid the So What.

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Posted on Tuesday, July 8, 2008 10:30 PM SOA , Main | Back to top

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