What are some patterns or anti-patterns where architecture and governance can help

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Architecture programs can be help to organizations – but for many different reasons. In same breath, by not identifying the needs for doing architecture, an architecture program can address problems that do not exist or leaders or team do not care about, and can become a waste of money or relegated to a compliance exercise.

At Xentity, we believe instituting architecture, governance or design guidance needs to address patterns, anti-patterns that create portfolio, solution and analysis management strategies that help deal with disruptions, investment in innovation, and shrinking budgets while improving services and aligning suppliers and partners.

Below are some example external pressure trends, common impact or anti-pattern trends cutting across cultural, business, and technology aspects of programs

  • Resistance to Change Planning: Intellectual approaches without balancing emotional or maturity context, not engaging leaders motives, pain, not seed-planting
  • Paving Cow Paths:  Automating management problems, function over form, not questioning assumptions, not looking at new (HR, IT, $) resource enablement patterns
  • Geek Speak Execs don’t get it, and its not their fault
  • Poor Modernization Blueprints: Mile-High, Inch-Deep, without proving pieces at time to gain momentum
  • Islands of Automation: aka Center of Universe – disparate sites, systems, apps, instead of services in user environment
  • Redundant Buying: Buying same item many times, no architecture  guidance to scale or change patterns

  • Program Management: Few delivered on time, on budget, on scope, on quality. Sponsorship lacking, not insuring/governing/buying risk, still not agile PM

  • Bad Data: Building GIGO Business Intelligence. Asking the wrong question of data which in turn leads to data collection failures.
  • Poor Cyber Security: IT security seen as lagging  IT cost, instead of asset-risk management issue
  • Too Much Change: Executives and Consultants promote constant flux, instead of unfreezing, adding change, and institutionalize new efforts and concepts
  • Problem seems insurmountable: Too large, complex leading to reversion to waterfall project planning techniques. The window for 2 years to test to new overhauling policies are gone. Business agility requires negotiation between business for prioritizing and agile project rollout.
  • Vision/Thought Leadership left to higher-ups only:  Challenging to staff to truly envision a change or target state not part of their incentive, even though best tactical ideas to enhance/meet strategy usually comes from within. Thinking gets bound up in current operational mire.
  • Revolving Door: Working to satisfy the management of today for organization political or self interest purposes. Middle management is often positioned or left to be soft with few exceptions on the drive needed to manage change. For example, with middle management and up are nearing or at retirement, large amounts started to retire, the churn caused by vacuum-effect at high level makes long term initiatives difficult to start or sustain.
  • Compliance Driven: Overwhelming amount of data calls with heavy-handed “fines”. Manage and plan to compliance – measuring to ineffectual measures
  • Compliance too complicated to understandCost/Price analysis on subcontractor costsSelf-monitoring/compliance reviews, manage contracting risks, methods and evidence used for estimation, understanding government acquisition regulations. Without expert help, small businesses are heavily limited to engaging.
  • Planning to the beast and not the customer: Fear at operational level of making decisions that lead to a innovative approaches or straying from norm – risk adverse. No reward for doing things better.
  • Delivering Value not part of Culture: Not sure of value of what we produce. no clarity on strategic outcomes and therefore have little recognition of recommended initiatives and what they mean to the workforce.
  • Blackbox Syndromes (aka Man behind the Curtain): Information Technology and management concepts and operations are overwhelmed by or shielded from the consumer of customer view. Programs/Mission are not informed of what IT has to do. Thus executive direction is disconnected, sometimes thus IT solutions or operations funding tie executives hands. Business agility gets put on backburner regardless of what Portfolio/Project Management is in place.
  • Surviving, not Thriving – Mission management model or system not designed to manage sustained change and transition. They are designed to deliver a product or service, if lucky.
  • Stovepiped Policy creates stovepipe programs: Cannot collaborate – need to get my task done now. Without collaboration, there is an inability for prioritization methods or techniques to be imparted and use effectively at all tiers of management.
  • Funding mismatch: Budget is a constraining variable in all work formulas precluding optimization across elements. These may be synthesied or aggrgated – mixed and matched as you see fit. Some programs may actually be funded right, but key functions of program budget are misaligned limiting what can be accomplished as a whole.
  • Enterprise Planning flavor of the day: Due to either past failures, or perception that new approaches are repackaged ways tried before kills internal buy-in towards integrated or collaborative techniques. Enterprise architecture, team functional/segment analysis, or agile project management may have been “tried” before, but instead of evaluating failure as tried to take on too much scope, other factors not resolved above, or simply, was over-engineered, are usually not labelled as the cause. The baby gets thrown out with the bath water or enterprise planning gets tossed aside due to lack of leadership, mistrust or burn-out.
  • Imbalance of Leadership Styles: Quick deciders, Stalling Stabilizers, Never-satisfied Challengers, Start-up Innovators – whatever the persona,  a lack of understanding of what each brings causes consternation or even over imbalance towards one style. Which leads to no decisions, status quo, low morale, or too much change.

IT Footprint Progression in the Federal Government… and the role of Architecture

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Matt Tricomi

In early December 2011, Xentity architects had a chance to discuss future progression with OMB current and former Chief Architects. The following captures some of the concepts discussed for architecture in context of the overall IT progression in Federal Government both looking back at where IT has been, but given current initiatives, but could be further emphasized, integrated, or uncovered moving forward.

PDF: ITProgression-Policy-Arch-Role.pdf

Where IT has been

Organization Information Role

IT originally was built as a Federated cost center. IT moved into Agency Data Centers model for archive/records. Commerce Models of economy drove eGov without migrating IT to Service models. Govt swamped in the T of IT, haven’t got back to the I. 

Trained Workforce

IT Acquisition originally was about financing/leasing federated shared manufactured systems Then Client/Server came, which is solution architecture, and 1000s of stacks came. Acquisition never got trained or linked with EA, and engineering mostly got outsourced

Data Center Footprint

Federated Regional Centers moved to Mission Centers moving to Server Rooms due to 1000s of system configurations. Initial FDCCI will close 1/3 of the portfolio count, but other 2/3s will have high transition costs

Technology Stack

IT stack started monolithic and slowly moved into server tiers then into service components. Though reduced individual system develop. cost, O&M Total Cost of Ownership was ignored and system security and interoperability was low.

Recommendations Discussed

Organization Information Role

– Institutionalized Funding for Enabling G2G IT Services at GSA
– Position G2C Services as High-Available Service Centers
– Focus Mission on Data Services training on Data Lifecycle that allows Private, NGO, Citizens to build on top of
– Increase EA role in support of mission and policy analysts for depth reach back to increase new political appointee effectiveness and limit turnover/ takeover disruption

Trained Workforce

– Position EA as depth knowledge base for acquisition guidance reachback
– Train all 3 workforce components on Performance maturity, Common Stack Architecture, and FEA/FSAM v2
– Establish CIO and EA relationship formerly with Acquisition
– Retire ineffective, existing burden to demonstrate credibility, eating own dog food, and increase success chances

Data Center Footprint

– Increase CMMI/ITIL Requirements to lower O&M
– Continue FDCCI
– Guide 2nd Consolidation Phase through taking advantage of CPIC renewal or new system cycles to assure re-use of new platform or data services in new shared platform environments to avoid simple hardware/system “cowpath” migration

Technology Stack

– Establish a Common Stack Architecture to be cloud managed service platforms by Select Large Agencies, waived Large Programs, and GSA
– Manage a True Common Stack Portfolio definition and implementation status
– Target New Solutions and Existing Systems for collaborative evaluation








Going International

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Expanding upon Xentity’s geospatial arechitectural services and eServices expertise, Xentity has gone international supporting the Indonesia NSDI effort. Xentity has recently supported partner Enterprise Planning Solutions, LLC on executing strategic and enterprise planning for the National Spatial Data Infrastructure effort in Indonesia.  

This very large program was looking to transform its NSDI program to be more effective and truly service-oriented in how it shares, develops, and invests in its geospatial program.

EnterprisePS called upon Xentity to support in envisioning the future service delivery model for true knowledge management. How can hundreds of organizations data not only be managed in a disciplined fashion to create information, but how can they train their users to best use that information to support their analysis, decision support, and other geospatial business intelligence concepts to their thousands of consumers.

Keeping in mind Indonesia is the 4th most populous country in the world with its 17,000 islands, ever changing shorelines, with high needs for volcanic and earthquake tracking and response, making information into knowledge quickly, accurately, adding the most value becomes extremely important.

Check out the BAKOSURNATAL Program’s web site (recommend using Chrome or another translation tool to translate the site).

Xentity leaders has previously provide enterprise architecture and translation services in Argentina in support of national financial Infrastructure modernization.

Layering Cultural and Business Transformation (Part 5)

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Matt Tricomi

Taking the Agency “X” example, what would they do. They need to integrate the need for integrated reaction between soft and hard science driven organizations. A way to do this is introduce Integrated Change Management as a way to begin to build into the culture simply working together more, appreciating each others drivers, SWOT factors, and critical success factors. Essentially, they need to get to know each other first, before a fancy 13-step process can cure their anonymity.

Action 1: Introduce Integrated Change Management Between Business and Technology

Many groups see this, and start off from a domain-centric approach. Integrated Change management could focus on a few aspects first – together

  • Program and CIO Service Management Efforts
  • Enterprise Risk Management
  • Enterprise Portfolio Management
  • Capital Planning

All each though only addressing parts of the reaction, at least it begins to blend the varying cultures and beings to show demonstration to the other cultures that burying the hard science in Cost Center models and Nerd funded research areas will only limit their understanding of true business service needs. And vice-versa, by not seeing past the technology and engineering service providers lack of communication skills, and helping them share what it is they need to be successful for them as a service center, they will never achieve, nor understand the business. 

Action 2: Help CIO Shop understand the imprint of history more

So, if the CIO shop is to initiate this relations, as many initiatives are being initiated as such, will required integrated change management efforts to be more sensitive to the  historical imprint of Agency “X”s long history and varying set of challenges than in hard science’s own short history.

Help paint the picture how the softer science leaders think and what they appreciate and will understand. One technique is to use the D.I.S.C model. which can be used to demonstrate the different personalities of executive entities. 

The politicals select their value framework based on long-term institutional battles that cross multi-generations of political leaning, and have little appreciation for the programmatic institutional needs to run the organizations core missions business.

The institutional leaders respond to that with a long time history of showing evaluations of past failures and looking forward they are generally risk adverse to selecting new products or services.

Those that have crossed the line between supporting politicals can typically been seen as lightly challenging recent policy evaluations, usually of the predecessor, but limt challenging the selection or advisory of new policies as that is limited to the politicals selected executive trusted advisor. Those that try to enter that space get squashed easily, so instead the challengers try hard to help the business find ways to react to the politicals 3-year emerging critical policy and put aside other past 3-year high priorities. This means business operation internal initiatives need to be seeded very early to gain any sort of adoption.

Finally, the Innovators, who in one positive light until the last few years, have been isolated in cost center land and have been seen as a budget line item, to cut and add at will. But, when Agency “X” and rest of government entered into technology-based self-service for cost and ease of access reasons, this cost center view to service center view of technology as what they unknowingly signed onto – bringing the Nerds to the C-level big table and letting be taught and integrate in resolution ideation. To do this, Agency “X” would need to be expanding and absorbing interaction with other domains to result in the desired outcomes. A logical order alone will not successfully achieve integrating. Based on sphere of influence within the culture, the processes will merge.

Action 3: Eat some dogfood

How Agency “X” will mature into this structure will depend on adoption. Currently Agency “X” is exploring eating their own dogfood and integrating CIO functions in sharing how they mange the information portfolio across all information assurance functions (CPIC, Records, Privacy, Security, Enterprise Architecture, etc.).

These early adopters are nice, but where integrating the softer science management and budget functions of Strategic Planning, Workforce/Policy Planning, and establishing functional PMOs will be challenges. CIO shops have drank the kool aid of hard science management needed, and can be taught softer science techniques, but the softer science organizations, trained for 20, 30 years of government service obfuscated from technology modernizations and only visibility are the 80% of IT implementation failures will be an uphill battle. Softer Science taught managers, who have expectations in strong communication, and less strong technology interests and appetites, have little patience for technical mumbo-jumbo, process, or even 3 boxes and a couple arrows.

Action 4: If general adoption, the first transformation blueprint that should be done is a management planning one – or at least each blueprint needs to have a component addressing the program and resource management slice of bread around the core mission blueprint

Before going to far, assure the management is prepared to evaluate itself while modernizing or ideating mission improvements. As the Porter Value Chain Suggests, as you look at the value of the primary activities, you need to understand how the supporting activities can coalesce and plan, communicate, budget, invest, procure, and govern together. Especially as those support functions get more and more shared as services (which is another talk in and of itself).


Culture is generations of history of successes and failures. EA needs to realize when introducing change these factors at the organization EA is supporting change within. Cookie-cutter approaches will not work without flexibility in understanding high-level cultural, policy, and innovation successes and failures over time.

Agency “X” is using this knowledge of its culture to effect change, and begin to create an integrated change management that is sensitive to change adoption and support.


This information was produced with information research from Xentity. Intellectual Property is protected.