How we are starting to build our new ICT architecture

4

March 18, 2010 by Jim Morton

Now that we have moved beyond the conceptual phase of our R&D work (details of which can be found documented on our wiki at http://abigbang.wikidot.com/) we are moving into the phase in which we will identify and specify the various elements and standards that we will use to deliver ICT into the future of the authority.

Originally this was envisaged a further series of R&D projects, but we are now taking the opportunity to work on genuine, business focussed projects combined with the identification and development of our new architecture. This is allowing us to get access to a wide variety of people and resources as well as a great way of starting to demonstrate how following our strategies can provide real, demonstrable benefits.

The iPhone app project is a good example of how strategy work has combined with the skills of other staff in ICT in order to both develop parts of the architecture (re-usable web services, identifying open standards for data and the use of infrastructure as a service) as well as delivering a useful application to the citizens of Warwickshire.

Our approach from now on is going to be to integrate ourselves into the project management by explicitly stating during the initiation phase how:

  • Each project will help to identify or define elements of the architecture
  • Where a project is dependant on other parts of the architecture
  • A project should be specified in order to make use of this new approach

The process for doing this is going to be documented by a diagram for each project, currently designated the Strategic Contribution Diagram, at least until I can come up with a better title for it, hopefully a dodgy acronym.

As a foundation for this work we have also published a reference architecture, describing the various tiers of the architecture as well as the elements we believe need to be created/implemented and defined. This reference architecture will become more detailed and specific as time goes by and more and more services and elements become a reality. In the meantime please feel free to have a look at the attached architecture diagram and let us have any feedback or thoughts.
a small image of our architecture diagram
In the next couple of days I’ll put up an example of the thrilling Strategic Contribution Diagram with some explanatory musings.

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4 thoughts on “How we are starting to build our new ICT architecture

  1. martinhowitt says:

    This looks like a really interesting (and compared to us, mature) approach to stuff.

    Do you have any modelling as to the business impact of the architectural work, eg how it links to corporate objectives or are you modelling it according to what tthe current demands on the ICT section are?

  2. James Smith says:

    Hi Martin,
    Thanks for the comment. We have done some work communicating the benefits of an architectural approach, both within business and ICT. Here is a blog post on why we needed to adopt this approach: https://abigbang.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/why-do-we-need-an-applications-strategy-first-anniversary-re-issue/

    We have not formally modelled how this will impact the business. However we have started to define how it can improve the delivery of IT services. This is largely informal work talking to staff, blogging, attending project start-up sessions and referring people to some of the R&D projects we have completed.

    We are also linking the development of the architecture to ICT projects by embedding contribution diagrams into project initiation and working with the project teams to give direction. In turn these projects are linked to corporate objectives as part of the business planning process.

    There are some cases where it is starting to link directly to business requirements, specifically around new application requests. In these cases we are developing the new application in line with our concepts.

  3. […] decision to use existing and new projects to help build a strategic architecture has been endorsed by our management team and we are piloting the use of a design authority as a […]

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