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The successful application of Information Technologies IT in an organization depends on the business processes used for managing such technologies.
It is widely recognized that the use of the Enterprise Architecture EA practice for organizing these technologies into a framework is a key factor for achieving a better IT – business alignment. This article presents a business process model for the IT Management that can be used in medium and large organizations as a framework for modelling and analysing their IT management processes. The main difference between the described model and others found in the literature is that our model places EA concept at the centre of the organization of IT Management activities.
It provides a better definition, organization and comprehension of the essential and support IT management activities. The described model is being used in several organizations as a referential framework to improve their current IT Management processes. ReceivedRevisedAccepted Information technologies IT play, today, a strategic role in the majority of public and private organizations. The success of an organization, in a global economy and interconnected world, depends on these technologies and the way they are managed.
The alignment between business and IT, the frequency of the technological changes and the lack of understanding of business processes by the IT staff are three of the most common problems that an IT manager must face [ 1 ].
Enterprise Architecture EAseen as a management practice, has won a lot of attention and importance in recent years [ 23 ].
Its main contribution is in solving the three problems aforementioned. An important aggregate value of EA is to provide, to the IT management, with a better understanding of the business processes, their supporting information systems, and the IT platform used to implement and operate these systems.
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In this article, we define IT Management as a set of business processes whose main objectives are to plan, implement, operate, maintain, and improve the enterprise architecture of an organization. In most medium and large companies, this process is executed by an organizational unit that is positioned at the highest hierarchical managerial level.
To refer to this organizational unit we will use, in this article, the term “IT Department”. According to the proposed definition, the EA must be the center of attention of an IT department. The components of this architecture are the resources or the business objects that an IT department must manage. An enterprise architecture is a description of the following components or elements of a company or organization or of a part of it: The objectives of the business, its business processes, and activities, its actors and its business rules.
The information systems that the company needs to run these business processes; and. The software, hardware, and network platforms or infrastructures, on which the information systems are developed, installed, and managed.
These components determine three levels or layers called: The concept of EA is not new. It has been used since the decade of the 80s with the well-known framework of Zachman [ 4 ]. However, it is in the last few years that this concept has gained increasing importance. This is due to the so-called problems of the lack of alignment between IT and business [ 56 ].
These models and frameworks provide a comprehensive overview of the concepts, processes, and resources that an IT department is required to manage. In parallel to the evolution of EA, different models have emerged that prescribe specific IT management processes. The most prominent ones are: None of them covers, by itself, all the processes that an IT department should execute. It provides a set of methods and techniques for identifying and improving all areas associated with IT within an organization.
This model groups all IT management processes into eight categories: The description of the internal management processes and their interrelationships lets IT managers improve the control and implementation of IT processes; which facilitates the IT alignment with the objectives and priorities of the organization.
The notion of enterprise architecture is completely absent in the structure of this model. The objective of this article is to describe a comprehensive and integrated process model for IT management based on the EA approach.
This approach provides a complete and well-structured framework that facilitates the integrated management of the three levels of an enterprise architecture: In addition to using the enterprise architecture as the focus of attention of IT management, our model is distinguished from the aforementioned models and frameworks in two aspects.
Firstly, we use a value chain to divide IT management processes into two separated groups of processes: Secondly, IT management processes are modeled as a set of business process using a well-known UML extension to business.
By doing so, the set of IT management processes may be seen and treated as a constituent part of the Business Architecture. The rest of this article is organized as follows: Section 3 presents a summary the main EA concepts. Section 4 describes our process model to IT management.
Each process of our model is described, with the detail that the page limit of the article allows, in sections 5 and 6. Finally, section 7 discusses the contribution of the model and its applicability in medium and large organizations. The alignment of IT to business has been one of the main concerns of many IT managers for more than two decades.
Sincethis problem has been ranked among the top studies that measure the importance of the concerns of IT managers and CIOs.
It has been shown that companies that achieve greater benefits of productivity, performance and presence in the market are those that are able to take advantages of technologies and align IT to business [ 15monitlva1718 ].
It is clear that the search for a good level of alignment, between business objectives and the technologies that support them, has transformed the way IT management is conducted today in many organizations. This occurs not only at the level of strategies for the optimal use of technologies and resources already in place for example, legacy jonaz, support infrastructure, etc. In addition, the speed at which IT evolves increases the complexity of this alignment, because there is not enough time to assimilate the new technological changes.
On the other hand, changes in business strategies – to conform to the globalized world – produce changes in the business processes, which in turn, monyilva changes in the technologies required to perform these processes. The implementation of new and more advanced technologies usually requires the restructuring of montiova processes and activities needed to manage them. This situation creates a kind of cyclic relationship cause-effect-cause that the organization must manage jonaas a strategic way.
It is important to mention that the strategic goals are also temporary, with a horizon that does not go beyond to three or four years. This is due to the influence of the changing and competitive global environment that totally depends on information technologies. That is the main reason for extending the alignment problem reached in an instant of time, to an ongoing maintenance of this alignment throughout a monttilva period of time. Whole elements are considered the primary components of what is called the Enterprise Architecture EA of an organization.
According to the previous paragraphs, the problem of strategic alignment between business and IT is an arduous and complex task. Thus, any variation in the organizational needs, strategies, processes and activities, will be immediately captured and analyzed to establish what effect, and consequent change, must be carried out in current links with Information Systems, Data and IT.
The IT department has the responsibility of planning, implementing, and operating and continuously improving the enterprise architecture of its organization; so that the enterprise architecture can provide the IT services that the organization needs. It is also the responsibility of this unit, to maintain the enterprise architecture aligned with the strategies and goals of the organization.
Subsequently, the specification of a business processes jonsa that describe the integrated set of technical, administrative and management processes of an IT department, is essential. This business process model will lead to directly achieve the goals of the IT department, and complementary, it montilvq lead, indirectly, to reach the goals and strategies defined for the whole organization.
However, these proposals are, in a certain way, independent and do not cover all the categories of processes that are carried out in any IT department. As we ojnas out, in an IT department there are typical mohtilva such as management of technical and operational issues, as jomas as processes related with the governance of the information systems and technology resources; but, other management processes, such as the management of technical or specialized human resources, financial resources, physical infrastructure, and administrative management of risks, are not integrated in the above mentioned studies or proposals.
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On the other side, we find that EA has been used as a base for the governance of technologies and for the definition of the information monntilva of an organization [ 5 ], [ 24 ]. However, we have not found in the literature of the area, results of research or practice related to the specific use of the relationship between the EA and the business processes executed by the IT department of an organization. Considering that jonzs IT department is responsible for defining, operating and maintaining the enterprise architecture of an organization, the practical use of this critical relationship remains the main contribution of this work.
We believe that there is a direct dependence between the implantation of a specific business processes model for the organizational unit responsible for the enterprise architecture, and the positive and effective role that will play this EA in the achievement of the alignment between business, IT technologies strategies and policies. The model of IT management processes described in this article is an integrated set of the essential managerial and technical processes that an organization should implement in order to carry out an efficient and effective management of the EA resources modeled, created, contained, and supervised within an organization.
An enterprise architecture is a description of the business objectives of an organization, how these objectives are achieved through business processes and how these business processes can be supported through the use of IT [ 3 ]. The enterprise architecture is represented jonxs a set of models that describes and relates the business objectives, the business processes, the information systems and the IT platform and that will be required to support the business processes of an organization or a part of it.
As shown in figure 1an enterprise architecture is composed of three levels or layers. The top layer, called the Business Architecture, describes the organization or a part of itits objectives, its business processes, its actors, its business rules, and its organizational structure, among others. The middle layer is known as the Information Systems Architecture.
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It describes the software applications and the data repositories e. The lower layer is identified as the Technology Architecture. This layer provides details of the software, hardware and telecommunications platforms, on which the information system layer is developed, installed, and operated. Levels of an enterprise architecture. The location of the layers defines the relations of dependence between architectures. The Information Systems Architecture is developed and operated with the support of the Technology Architecture.
The Business Architecture is composed by business processes that are supported by the Information Systems Architecture. These relationships are crucial to ensure the proper alignment between the business, its information systems, and its IT platform. The enterprise architecture of an organization is represented at two different instants of time: These moments determine two different states of the architecture, as shown in figure 2.
At the current moment, the enterprise architecture is described as it is by the time the EA planning is in progress. This state defines the baseline of the enterprise architecture. At the future moment, the enterprise architecture is described as it is targeted, that is, as it should be implemented in the next years.
States of an enterprise architecture. The Baseline Enterprise Architecture represents the current state of the organization, its systems, and its technological infrastructure. The Target Enterprise Architecture is a design of the architectures of the business, information systems and of IT that the organization should possess in the next three or four years, as it is required in order to meet the objectives set out in their strategic plans.
This architecture is designed on the basis of: A migration and implementation plan guides the transition from the baseline state of the enterprise architecture to its target state. This plan organizes and describes the portfolio of projects, as well as the activities, schedule, and resources that are required to make the transition between the two mentioned states. IT Management is a managerial process through which an organization plans, develops, operates, and constantly improves its enterprise architecture, with the objective of providing the IT services that the organization requires.
One of the most important ,ontilva of the IT Management is to achieve a high degree of alignment between business and IT. IT managers must therefore ensure that the information systems, and the IT platform on which these systems operate, provide the effective support that business processes demand for achieving the strategic objectives of the organization, as established in the business plans.