Divide & conquer
Segment architecture puts owners in charge
- By Jason Miller
- Apr 14, 2007
We want the architecture to reflect where the business wants to be in three to five years. ' Richard Burk, OMB Chief Architect
Henrik G. de Gyor
In building a new litigation case management system, the Justice Department is looking beyond the technology. Officials are going a step further by developing an enterprise architecture for the entire case management line of business.
By delineating the business processes, key data elements and services the program will provide, Justice is taking the lead in the government's attempt to move enterprise architecture out of the chief information officer's shop and into the business owner's office.
'It looks like a mini-EA with links to programs and the evolution of those programs,' said Kshemendra Paul, Justice's chief enterprise architect. 'We are making sure we can drive measurable results that are attributable to the mission. The key focus for us is to'deploy our resources and properly address policy concerns ' such as privacy and security ' and deliver on our need for information sharing.'
Justice is using this approach, known as segment architecture, on two additional lines of business: Justice Information Services, which is a core mission segment similar to litigation case management, and information sharing, which is a crosscutting business line.
Some agencies have been breaking down segments for a while. Paul said Justice has been working on case management ' litigation and investigation ' for a few years, but the Office of Management and Budget mandated it for agencies in their February fiscal 2007 enterprise architecture submissions.
'We want the architecture to be a reflection of their business because in the past it was reflection of their IT,' said Richard Burk, OMB's chief architect. 'If we are going to solve the problems of the agency, we want the architecture to reflect where the business wants to be in three to five years.'
OMB just finished reviewing all agency architecture submissions, and Burk said 25 of 26 agencies submitted at least one segment by the February deadline. Six agencies submitted at least two, he added.
'This is the line of sight for architecture,' he said. 'The point of the EA is to inform decision-makers.'
It is that desire, in a sense, to move architecture out of the 'IT ghetto,' as Burk described it, to show its value beyond systems design.
Paul said segment architecture is a more structured way to describe where the priorities are and how they map to business needs.
'The value of EA has not yet been specifically and clearly articulated in numbers that are convincing,' Burk added. 'There are a lot of anecdotes, so we are developing hard data to get [the] definitive value of EA.'
In the commercial sector, value is measured in dollars and cents, but in the government, value is harder to determine, said Mike Isman, a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton.
Booz Allen Hamilton has been one of the biggest advocates of the segment approach. Isman said the commercial sector has used business line architecture to save money, avoid costs and improve customer service.
'If you are looking at the value of the EA to an agency's mission, the key is how they can increase the mission value both internally and in how they serve citizens,' Isman said. 'This is a different business model architects have to face. In the past, architects were able to do their architecture, and the business folks validated it. Now the business model has to be more integral and involved with the business owner driving the process.'
'The segment can become part of a framework to build out the larger strategy for the business line,' Isman said. 'Agencies are also looking at how they can segment their business processes to fit with OMB's line-of-business' consolidation effort.
Paul said it still is too early for Justice to see definitive results, but he hopes the benefits will come through improved program delivery and outcomes.
Burk and others said the key is for the business owner to sign off and own the segment.
'Architects need to talk business owners' talk: mission operations, cost, risk and operational efficiencies,' Burk said. 'Find out their business processes and how they can be standardized and integrated.'
Paul said getting the U.S. attorneys' buy-in for litigation case management was an important part, as was getting the FBI, state and local law enforcement partners, and others' for the Justice Information Services segment.
OMB will require agencies to continue delving deeper into their business lines. Burk said now that architects have done at least one, the next segment will be easier.
'The idea is to get into their core business areas,' he said.'