In our last newsletter we emphasized the structure and people dimensions of EA in the requirements gathering process and the significance of Capability Based Planning inherent in TOGAF. In addition, we now briefly address the significant role of organizational culture and climate in such planning.  Without taking these into account, critical requirements are often not captured, which can lead to costly project failures. This has, for example, been the basis for failures of multimillion-dollar initiatives, both commercial and in Government, leading to major write-offs and failed modernization efforts. 
 
In the case of government, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and other bodies have investigated such projects and come up with findings in an effort to stave off further such failures that might run into more than a billion dollars in some cases.  A large majority of these findings relate, on the one hand, to organizational, discipline, cultural and programmatic issues; and, on the other, to poorly understood, complex requirements. For an excellent survey on such large, complex projects, see DOD BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION:
Improved Management Oversight of Business System Modernization Efforts Needed GAO-11-53: Published: Oct 7, 2010.
 
A particularly telling example of such a major failure is that of an Air Force ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Oracle implementation - the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS).  The failure of the ERP Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS) cost the United States Air Force over 1.6 billion dollars during its six year span. Reasons for failure included communication, cultural, strategic and operational issues. If such failures can occur in a relatively rigid, command and control, bureaucratic military organization setup, then such challenges are relevant to the operational models of a wide range of enterprise structures.
Capability Based Planning depends fundamentally on organizational communication issues dealing with culture, detailed planning, skill requirements, strong leadership, and recognition of multi-cultural and multi-tribal interests. In addition, the procurement stages of such large and complex programs need to be constantly monitored for changes in direction during their course of execution – a governance function addressed in the TOGAF Architecture Development Method (ADM)
 
 
Written by: Beryl Bellman, Ph.D, Professor 

 

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