A couple of months ago I was interviewed as “Architect in the Spotlight” for the November 2010 issue of the Journal of Enterprise Architecture. It is a great honor to be in the spotlight, and I thank the chef editor and his team for noticing our work with EA in the Danish government.
With permission from JEA, I have inserted the interview with me below. Please also see the other great articles in the November issue at JEA’s new website here.
JEA: IS THERE A DANISH WAY OF DOING EA?
KHM: All EA programs must be designed for a specific context. Denmark has a strong cross-governmental collaboration culture and we have built our EA-program in this context. I’m not a fan of large and complex EA frameworks – in any sector. EA must provide just enough structure and guidance to bring the business and IT communities together for coherency. In Denmark we have bridged this traditional gap with all of our government reference models, a business reference model, and a service and technology reference model. These models span municipalities, regions, and the central government and we use them extensively for benchmarking, reviews of IT investments, service definitions for re-usable and sharable services, and semantic definitions across our public portals.
JEA: WHY THE FOCUS NOW ON REFERENCE MODELS?
KHM: In the early 00′s we built a comprehensive EA framework and methodology for Danish e-Government. But adoption has been low and many agencies have found it difficult to understand the complexity. Thus, with the reference models we now pursue a more “lightweight” approach to EA. The shared taxonomies create a common language for business and IT to use when agencies are involved in the delivery of cross-agency services and it provides the Ministry of Finance and our new shared service center for IT, Statens It, which was established in 2009, a framework for the cost-effective and timely delivery of IT services with standards, principles, and templates that assist in the design and delivery of IT capability.
The reference models are developed and maintained by a national editorial board with three FTEs representing the Danish municipalities, regions, and the central government. This setup provides a solid foundation for agencies to work from and a strong common language across the national e-Government program. We supplement the reference models with other tools from the EA toolbox. But, it is all about creating just enough structure and guidance – and not get too technically focused on frameworks and complex methodology.
JEA: WHAT IS THE NEXT BIG THING IN EA?
KHM: Fashions come and go. But, I think that EA programs should embrace and leverage social media platforms. Since 2004 I have had my own blog (EAGov.com) and in the Ministry of Finance we recently launched a blog for the reference models with a Twitter profile. The new blogging tools were not launched to jump on the IT fashion bandwagon. We are using the new tools because we think the greatest economic value will come from finding ways to connect people that work with reference models or taxonomies inside or outside government. We use the new tools to get out of our comfort zone in the editorial boardroom and, hopefully, come up with creative new and innovative ways to use the reference models that generate more value with fewer resources in the interaction with our users.
Another trend that we are seeing in both private and public organizations in Denmark is that EA is moving out of the CIO office. Sitting in the Ministry of Finance, I am not part of the CIO office. I work in the Danish CFO office and talk more about coherency, performance management, and decision support information than I talk about applications and technology. EA is moving up the value chain helping the business align itself and the underlying IT-infrastructure – providing real business value by applying the rigor of EA to the business discussion. This is a really exciting development for the EA discipline. Something that we need to study further and encourage others to do.
JEA: WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A PRACADEMIC?
KHM: I don’t flash my PhD in the Danish government. Most of my colleagues don’t know my academic background. But, I think that my academic background has improved my “reflection on action” and “reflection in action” when I recapture my experience, think about it, mull it over, and evaluate it in our national EA program. JEA seeks to bridge the gap that tends to be between scientific and practical knowledge – and I think that is great!