Oops! The input is malformed! Value Articulation for a Data Integration Competency Center by Jamuna Ravi, Sastry K V S N. - BeyeNETWORK India


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Value Articulation for a Data Integration Competency Center

Originally published 2 March 2009

Most business-critical initiatives within large enterprises include some key requirements around data integration. The success of these initiatives requires delivery from a structured and process- driven, integrated data organization.

As a result, many enterprises worldwide have been establishing data integration competency centers to leverage value in terms of improved productivity, enhanced service quality and reduced cost. Hence, the data integration competency centers (DICCs) occupy a key position in the strategic initiatives of organizations.

Upon the creation of DICCs, data integration has increasingly become a centralized function. Thus, business/technology groups are now engaging the DICC to obtain data integration services.

Due to centralization, the success of the DICC is heavily dependent on effective and timely engagement by the business/technology groups across the enterprise. For the business/technology groups to effectively engage the DICC, understanding the value in obtaining services from the DICC is an imperative.

In this article, the key challenges around DICC engagement and the characteristics of the value proposition statements are discussed. Also, the article defines a framework for articulating the value of the DICC.

Key Challenges

Typically, a competency center is a horizontal focus group engaged by all the business/technology groups within the enterprise, It is not uncommon to see resistance from these groups while engaging the DICC.

The challenges described in this section are focused on engagement by the business/technology groups. This section will not discuss other challenges such as the people, technology or processes internal to the competency center.

Some of the key challenges faced by the DICC include:

  1. Lack of confidence. The group engaging the DICC does not possess sufficient information regarding the capabilities of the competency center with respect to the people, processes or technology.
  2. Perception of loss of control. While data integration requirements are being built by individual project teams, they have the flexibility to accommodate more change in requirements and implement non-standard practices when required. Though this has adverse long-term impact, it gives quick short-term wins.
  3. Engagement Overhead. Most large initiatives already have multiple groups within the enterprise working together, bringing in an additional specialized group like the DICC is considered an overhead expense. The common complaint from the project teams is that they need to spend time explaining requirements to the members of the DICC as well as spend extra effort tracking progress and status reporting.
  4. Costlier than doing it themselves. The effort/cost estimates from the project team members are invariably found to be less than the estimates from the competency center. It has been observed that the estimates provided by the project teams do not include the complete life cycle effort, so they seem lower.

A clearly articulated value proposition can help dispel misconceptions and facilitate effective engagement.

Characteristics of a Value Proposition

The key characteristics of a value proposition are:

  • Clarity of the benefits delivered – It is critical that all the benefits to the project, the line of business (LoB) and enterprise be detailed clearly.
  • Quantify benefits – Benefits should be, to the greatest extent, quantified and expressed in terms of reduced cost or reduced effort.
  • Associate benefits to problems on hand – Groups engaging the competency center should be able to explicitly tie issues on hand to the solutions the competency center can bring to the table to overcome these issues.
  • Align with enterprise aspirations/strategy – Detailing how the competency center can help the LoB’s align better to the enterprise aspirations needs to be detailed.

Framework for Value Articulation

Working with the DICC or center of excellence (CoE) provides many benefits, such as:

  • Lower total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • Enhanced productivity
  • Use of standards and best practices
  • Reuse of assets
  • Alignment with enterprise strategy

For the value proposition to be effective and complete, it is important that these benefits are understood and detailed from the perspective of the various stakeholders within the organization. The benefits of engaging the competency center can be realized at three levels: the project team, the business group (LoB) funding the initiative and the enterprise. 

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Figure 1: Levels of Stakeholders

The stakeholders that can leverage the benefits of the competency center are:

  1. Project team. This set of stakeholders is from the project team engaging the competency center to obtain services. The key individuals interested in understanding the benefits at this level are the project managers and project architects.
  2. Business group. This set of stakeholders is from the primary business group or LoB funding the project. The key individuals interested in understanding the benefits at this level are LoB leadership and portfolio architects.
  3. Enterprise. Each of the individual projects affects the enterprise at various levels. The key individuals interested in understanding the benefits at this level are the CIO and chief enterprise architect.

Using the primary inquisitives of what, how, when and why is a key tool to help conduct thorough analysis. 

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Figure 2: Questions Used for Value Articulation

The definition of the questions facilitating the value articulation are:

 What  What does each of the value additions mean for the stakeholder?
 How  How does the value addition benefit the stakeholder?
 When  When will the value be realized? It could be be short, medium or long term. The definition of short, medium and long term must be understood and documented to facilitate communication.
 Why  Why should the specific stakeholder be interested in the value addition?

To facilitate the process of understanding/detailing the value additions to the various stakeholders, it should be documented in a matrix along the same lines as the enterprise architecture depiction model proposed by John Zachman in the “Zachman’s Framework.”1

This matrix would have the stakeholders on the Y axis and the primary inquisitives on the X axis. A sample un-populated matrix is depicted in Figure 3:

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 Figure 3: Matrix

The matrix should be filled for each of the value additions from left to right for each stakeholder. When filling out the matrix, it is critical that the information provided is specific to the organization, and examples or scenarios used should highlight the point being made. The key message is that the individual stakeholder should be able to associate with the benefit/value addition.

In the process of completing the matrix, if any of the aspects can be quantified in terms of reduced cost or effort, it should be noted. However, the process of quantification is relatively more complex. Some of the possible methodologies used for this purpose are:

  • Existing cost versus future cost
  • Effort or other resources saved
  • Reduction in TCO 
  • Quantifying savings from previous initiatives (the best way to quantify value additions)

It is recommended that a brainstorming session be conducted among the key individuals within the competency center (sponsor, architects and managers) when filling up the various cells of the matrix. Please note that the value proposition could be identical for multiple stakeholders.

Maintaining the Value Proposition

The process of value articulation should not be considered a one-time activity. Instead, it is imperative that the value proposition be upgraded based on the enhancements being made to the competency center. For the value proposition to be complete and effective, it is critical that the value proposition is assessed and updated on a periodic basis.

The DICC is a key component of every organization’s technology capabilities. The framework provides a structured approach for articulating the value proposition. As well, the process of detailing the value additions from the perspectives of each of the stakeholders (with examples) helps to make the value proposition complete. The value of a populated articulation matrix can be the key contributor for any discussions with prospective customers on why they should engage the DICC.

References:

1. Zachman’s Framework – http://www.zachmaninternational.com/index.php/home-article/13#maincol

 

SOURCE: Value Articulation for a Data Integration Competency Center

  • Jamuna RaviJamuna Ravi

    Jamuna Ravi is Vice President and Delivery Head for the Banking and Capital Markets (BCM) group, North America at Infosys Technologies Limited. BCM is the largest vertical of Infosys with more than 16,000 consultants, business analysts, technology architects and software professionals. Her teams are based primarily out of seven locations in India, different customer locations in the U.S., UK and APAC regions. She has more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry and is currently based out of Bangalore, India.

    Jamuna has been a part of several organizational change initiatives in Infosys such as developing data warehousing and business intelligence as a service offering, employee certification, differentiation of services offered, trusted ADM. She is the guiding and driving force of innovation in Banking and Capital Markets, has published papers in various engineering journals and given talks for various IT and management institutes.

  •  Sastry K V S N. Sastry K V S N.
    Sastry is a Principal Architect with the Banking and Capital Markets vertical at Infosys. He has 14 years of technology consulting experience mainly with many of the large banks and financial institutions across the globe. He has been part of many small and large-scale initiatives related to application development, architecture creation and strategy definition. Sastry’s focus area in the recent past has been data integration, data quality and data modeling.

     

     

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