BSG (UK) Systems decoupling - a perfect storm


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Considering the impact of decoupling applications within an existing IT architecture.

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BSG (UK) Systems decoupling - a perfect storm

  1. 1. Systems decoupling: a perfect stormSystems decoupling: a perfect stormFor many years now, a driving philosophy for IT departments has been consolidation. Disparate systems have beenmerged together, architectures have gone SOA, enterprise resource planning software has been implemented andmanagement reporting has been streamlined.But what happens when systems decoupling needs to take place? What happens when, after years ofconsolidation, your business and systems processes need to be separated? Perhaps the market has turned and abusiness unit needs to be sold, or a change in systems vendor requires replacing a legacy system, or new legislationrequires a different way of working. These are all real possibilities that need careful consideration.As the skies turn to grey, are you stumbling in the dark? Understanding why and whereFirstly, it is essential to understand the strategic drivers for the decoupling – the benefits case. What has createdthe need for the change? This may appear obvious, but it’s worth spending some time ensuring everyone’sobjectives are aligned. All too often a team thinks that they are on the same page only to spend a bit of timecollectively talking about the problem and realise that their understanding differs.Secondly, it is essential to thoroughly understand what happens where. There are different lenses that can beapplied: business process, services catalogue, systems architecture, transaction flows, etc. The selection of theappropriate lens to use will depend on the benefits defined in the business case, type of organisation, nature oftransaction flow, systems architecture, etc.Information to support the understanding of what happens where can be collated from many sources: observationat the coalface, reviewing the services catalogue, initiating and following test transactions, scouring systemmanuals, conducting workshops, viewing database schemas, interviewing stakeholders, etc. It’s a laborious task,often complicated by the very real gap that tends to exist between how the organisation mandates processes towork, how people think the processes work and how operational realities mean the processes actually work.Mapping a course through the clouds - understand specifically what requires changingArmed with knowledge of the process and systems architecture contextualised by a benefits case, it is time tobegin redrawing the line around what continues to be in, and out, of the future state architecture. Depending onthe lens deployed, this could be by service, business process, functional system, logical transaction or anycombination of these variables.For each item “outside the line” it becomes necessary to understand what happens to the transaction / dataaffected by that item. If a business unit is being sold, it might be as simple as handing the transaction over to thepurchasing company. If an existing system is being replaced, the transactions may need to be replicated either in anew system or elsewhere in the architecture. For more information about our // @bsguk service offering, please visit our +44 20 7390 8674 website or contact us Business Systems Group (UK), Registered in England No. 6150570, 230 City Road, London, EC1V2TT // @bsguk
  2. 2. Additionally, thought should be given to the unintended consequences of changing the transaction. Goodquestions to ask include: • Is the transaction used as a service by another system or function? • Is data created by the transaction used elsewhere? How will those transactions function in the new world? • What data integrity issues could be created by removing or editing this information? • Are there any legislative considerations around moving or removing this data?Understanding the answers to these questions is essential in the design of the future state architecture. It alsostarts to answer questions around who to engage with and inform about the change.Every cloud has a silver liningIt is important not to be blind to the opportunities presented within the project. For every transaction wherethere is system change, there is an opportunity to effect an improvement. Additionally, the introduction of newtechnology may create opportunities to improve transactions not directly affected by the decoupling. At a macrolevel, there may also be an opportunity to reshape your architecture; perhaps moving from a very silo-orientedapproach to a service-oriented one.It is far more common for projects to introduce new features and functions than introducing wholesaleimprovements to existing ones. The opportunity to sweat existing infrastructure should be considered and, whereit makes economic sense, seized.Hardtack to starboard – getting on with itThese projects will likely involve both commissioning new systems (or components) and decommissioning existingones, all while maintaining on-going operational integrity. Time will be demanded of a large stakeholdercommunity and a need to make some really tough decisions.Decoupling systems is not easy. Difficult projects – in any context – need to be driven by a clear benefits casewhich is used to ensure ongoing stakeholder commitment. Additionally, this type of project needs to be informedby a deep understanding of how transactions flow within your architecture. These two aspects point towardsneeding to ensure that the journey is only commenced once the route has been clearly outlined.BSG (UK)BSG is passionate about being a proactive force for positive change. Our clients have a deep understanding oftheir organisations’ strategic intentions – their “why”. We have observed that many of these organisationsstruggle in the gap between intentions and delivery – the how, what, when and who of delivering against strategicambitions.Addressing this is all about designing practical programmes and projects which will deliver the “why”.Programmes and projects need to have a clear, strategy aligned, benefits case. Executing change is about workingin the detail of these projects to reliably deliver the business needs. It is about acting as the bridge between thebusiness stakeholders and the technology implementation.BSG’s consultants are able to play a transformative role at all stages of the project lifecycle. This has resulted in asignificant track record of ensuring that a business is supported in delivering their “why” across many hundreds ofprogrammes and projects. A collection BSG (UK) BA // @bsguk practitioner insight can be found +44 20 7390 8674 at Business Systems Group (UK), Registered in England No. 6150570, 230 City Road, London, EC1V2TT // @bsguk