How to Initiate the Manufacturing Enterprise Architecture Process

DoD_Architecture_Framework.jpgIn my last blog post I talked about the “What & Why of Manufacturing Enterprise Architecture.” I explained why an Enterprise Architecture (EA) effort was appropriate for manufacturing and asset intensive enterprises, and what the benefits a business could expect to reap from pursuing the process. In this post I’ll explain some of the work that is required to actually conduct the effort, as well as produce the Manufacturing EA document. 

There are two keys to success in this effort. First, is the recognition that the actual effort is more important than any document that ultimately will be produced. Secondly, it's important to recognize that over time things change, and that the effort needs to be refreshed periodically. As I noted in last week’s post, EA has evolved out of the business IT environment. Many of the methodologies have been used in that environment and are tested. There are some unique elements that the real-time nature of manufacturing and asset intensive service delivery businesses impose on the process to make the effort reflective of their environment.

The Roots of the EA Process

As previously noted, EA has its roots in IT and was introduced into the vernacular by John Zachman when he was working with IBM in the mid 1980s. In 1989, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published the NIST Enterprise Architecture Model, a five-layer reference model that illustrates the interrelationship of business, information system, and technology domains. In 1995 The Open Group introduced their Architecture Framework (TOGAF) and the most recent version was released in 2011, which has become the predominant model today..

The establishment of an accepted predominant model set uniform processes that began to emerge, which helped in mapping a business’ specific activities and technologies into that model, or into similar/competing frameworks. There is extensive information available about how to apply TOGAF and similar frameworks in the general business and IT domains. It is available from The Open Group, various consulting companies and on the Web. Information on the techniques for extending it to the plant floor, however, is not as widely available. That is why LNS Research is discussing this topic.

Importance of Senior Leadership Support

Every business process improvement initiative from Lean to Six Sigma stresses the importance of senior management support in assuring success. A Manufacturing EA effort is no different. In fact, it may be more imperative for a Manufacturing EA effort than some other initiatives for several reasons:

Manufacturing EA Effort

This effort cuts across the entire organization within an asset intensive or manufacturing company. Involvement from the shop floor all the way to the executive suite is needed to ensure the resulting architecture truly reflects the best path to Operational Excellence (OE) for the business. The failure to get buy-in from all parts of the management team will leave holes in the architecture. And consequently, this will lead to failure just as missing sections in a building's architectural plans could leave to collapse

Ensuring Available Resources

This is critical for the planning effort. Management must commit to allowing adequate time for the planning team members to not only do the work, but to socialize the effort within the larger organization to get the necessary buy-in from all parties.

Confirmation of Resulting Architecture

Management must make sure that the resulting architecture is adhered to. It must also make sure the message that ad-hoc technology purchases that do not fit within the architectural guidelines are not permitted. Processes that cannot be supported by the architecture either must be changed, or the architecture must be adjusted to accommodate those processes if they are required by business conditions.

The Effort Kickoff

Any Manufacturing EA effort must kick off with visible support by management. This is best accomplished by having the most appropriate senior manager open, and introduce the effort at a kickoff session. The rest of senior management, technical, and process experts are introduced to the Manufacturing EA process. From there they learn what the expected results will be and the nature of the effort that is required to get to the Manufacturing EA process. The kickoff session usually is a two or more day process. During this senior managers are involved for 30-50% of the time, while the technical and process experts are involved for the entire time. The goals of the kickoff session are:

  • Demonstrate senior management's commitment to the effort
  • Illustrate the value of the planning process through a learning exercise
  • Develop an understanding of what a Manufacturing EA is, and the process steps needed to construct it
  • Identify EA core and extended team members
  • Have management articulate its value set as it pertains to mapping technology solutions to business processes
  • Define the project to complete the Manufacturing EA process
  • Affirm management's buy-in to the process and team membership to continue work

The Ongoing Work to Complete the Process

Once management has made the commitment to continue the Manufacturing EA process the team needs to define the schedule and target the completion date. This way it can map the process deliverables to a timeline. Realistically, the process takes several months to complete, although with a concerted effort, it can be done in four to six weeks. Likewise, it can stretch out to six or more months if the enterprise and the production process are particularly complex. It might also stretch out the completion if the effort covers multiple plants in multiple countries and/or if a matrix orgnizational structure exists.

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All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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