Blogger: Chris Haddad
Four years ago, the business case for SOA didn’t matter. Enterprise organizations pursued SOA initiatives based on desire to achieve ‘competitive advantage’ and ‘agility’ without specifying clear metrics and success criteria. Two years ago, I was asked by an IT professional to render a ‘SOA Sanity Check’ on a pending SOA project. The project scope was described as an exercise to implement a Business Process Management Suite (BPMS) in a test environment and “prove the suite would make the organization more agile.” My first question, “How do you measure agility?” was met with silence. The champion did not include clear success criteria or a well crafted business case as an integral part of the exercise.
Constantly refactoring the IT environment into more composable and dynamic building blocks is extremely important. The latest techniques, technologies, and tools more readily facilitate decomposing monolithic applications and systems into more re-usable and efficient assets. However, few IT professionals quantify and track the business benefit derived by their company’s application and service-oriented improvement initiatives (such as SOA, SDLC, and BPM). Missing the correlation between investment and benefit is hindering continued pursuit of transformational activities.
According to Gartner’s recently released “2008 SOA User Survey: Adoption Trends and Characteristics", “Overall, the two major reasons that organizations choose for not pursuing SOA are a lack of skills and expertise, and no viable business case.” Today’s budgetary environment of doing less with less makes it even more important for service oriented architecture (SOA) champions to make their business cases for SOA investment compelling and to create and maintain momentum. Gartner’s findings confirm the importance of Building the Business Case for Service Oriented Architecture Investment. In Burton Group’s recently published Methodologies and Best Practices document,Analyst Richard Watsonprovides timely, action-oriented recommendations. Richard updates our recommendations and insights for surviving the SOA business-case process. The guidance is based on our first-hand experience with organizations that have succeeded (and some that have failed) to make their case and obtain SOA initiatives funding.
Recent ‘news’is not surprising to Burton Group clients. Back on 29 June 2005 Burton Group’s Application Platform Strategies team publishedVantagePoint 2005-2006 SOA Reality Check, and the document concludes with the following statement “SOA adoption requires careful planning and a profound willingness to change…. It [SOA] requires developers to change the way they design systems, it requires extensive education and mentoring [emphasis added], and it requires different incentive systems.” We reiterate our position, and agree with our Gartner peers that “Organizations without a clear business case for SOA and without a plan to develop or acquire the necessary skills are justified in taking a cautious approach”
Chris Howard presents a way forward in an Executive Advisory Program Executive Summary Addressing SOA Fatigue, "As a community of technology leaders, we need to change the conversation around SOA in order to counter SOA fatigue. We must reposition the discussion of SOA into a clear business context and remove the emphasis on SOA for SOA’s sake.” Burton Group team members look forward to collaborating with you to build a plan, develop your skills, and demonstrate business value.