Even the most sophisticated IT organizations have traditionally planned their SOA initiatives the old-fashioned way: on whiteboards, in hall conversations and email exchanges, and perhaps at best using that most sophisticated of tools, the spreadsheet. These ad-hoc approaches result in static, opaque and untraceable decision making – clearly not a good idea when IT funding is tight and expectations are high. By systematizing and automating information gathering and governance approval processes within a dynamic environment, Portfolio Manager breaks down communication barriers and provides a visible and understandable path from initial service concept through initiative alignment and prioritization to resource allocation and funding. Portfolio Manager comes preloaded with a clear, effective and fully extensible service planning metamodel and role-based governance approval processes. This preloaded configuration can be used as is out of the box, or IT organizations can easily fine-tune Portfolio Manager using its graphical drag-and-drop based configuration tools to align with their internal service planning metrics, processes and roles.
APQC’s Process Classification FrameworksSM (PCFs) come preloaded in Portfolio Manager, giving enterprises ready access to industry best practices and process guidance. Both cross-industry and industry-specific frameworks are provided, with industry-specific frameworks addressing the aerospace/defense, automotive, broadcasting, consumer products, electric utilities, petroleum (both upstream and downstream), pharmaceutical and telecommunications domains. By leveraging the combined experience of the APQC membership through these frameworks IT organizations can apply best practice benchmarks to their process definition and decomposition efforts, improving business efficiency and expanding opportunities for business leverage with their SOA initiative.
The PCF was developed by non-profit APQC, a global resource for benchmarking and best practices, and its member companies as an open standard to facilitate improvement through process management and benchmarking, regardless of industry, size, or geography. The PCF organizes operating and management processes into 12 enterprise level categories, including process groups and over 1,000 processes and associated activities. To download the full PCF or industry-specific versions of the PCF as well as associated measures and benchmarking, visit www.apqc.org/pcf.
For service portfolio planning to be effective, enterprises need to understand not only where they want to go (the “to be” state in Enterprise Architecture (EA) terms) but where they are starting (the EA “as is” state). Effective SOA initiatives must leverage existing system capabilities including purpose-built mainframe applications, packaged applications with their prebuilt Web service interfaces, data warehouses and other information-oriented resources, and upstream and downstream business partner interfaces to name a few. Portfolio Manager gives organizations a wide-ranging set of flexible mechanisms to pull this current state information into their service portfolio planning environment – from automated service discovery and introspection to bulk loading of application inventory information to integration frameworks that can tap into live sources of application and other system of record data. Within Portfolio Manager service planners can access this normalized information interactively, thereby improving their understanding of the current system environment and increasing the accuracy of their candidate service identification and definition efforts.
As an enterprise’s business priorities are defined within Portfolio Manager, understanding how those priorities connect with candidate services, and how those services in turn are aligned with existing system capabilities and with modernized business processes becomes increasingly important. Portfolio Manager provides service planners and other key SOA planning stakeholders with an interactive and dynamic graphical environment for understanding these connections and dependencies. Users can drag and drop individual business processes, candidate services and existing or newly planned systems into this graphical view, establishing filtering criteria beforehand or on-the-fly to both understand the broader implications of business priorities and to focus on various what-if scenarios such as flagging incremental opportunities to advance an organization’s SOA capabilities (e.g., by discovering adjunct business processes that can be supported with minimal additional service buildout).
The ultimate objective of service portfolio planning is to produce sets of well-defined and prioritized candidate services for provisioning into the IT organization for development, outsourcing or third-party procurement. Portfolio Manager systematizes and makes transparent this process by defining a common language for communicating, reviewing and approving these candidate services. Portfolio Manager’s default metamodel enforces strongly typed relationships from candidate services upstream to supported business processes and downstream to underlying existing system capabilities. As a candidate service progresses through Portfolio Manager’s automated service planning governance process, its content becomes increasingly refined and augmented through incrementally enforced content constraint rules so that planning stakeholders can make decisions based on meaningful data and not on gut feel.
As an organization’s SOA matures over time, planning stakeholders have an ever-increasing need to gain and maintain visibility over the broader implications of their decisions. How are their decisions advancing the key business initiatives of the enterprise? Are key services lagging in the planning process and as a result holding up important business priorities? Portfolio Manager comes with a set of prebuilt reports that expose these perspectives in concise and easily consumable form, with drilldown directly into the underlying candidate services and their relationships. Customers can augment these out-of-the-box reports by defining their own through use of Portfolio Manager’s imbedded open source Eclipse Business Intelligence and Reporting Toolkit (BIRT) engine. This popular reporting environment provides an easy to use graphical designer environment within Eclipse that allows Portfolio Manager administrators to quickly create custom reports using the extensive and fully exposed Portfolio Manager metamodel.
Handoff from service planning to development is often a weak point in enterprise SOA initiatives. Information gets lost, traceability is nonexistent, and what ultimately gets built often has little resemblance to what was intended. Portfolio Manager overcomes these issues by automatically provisioning approved candidate services and the applications that will consume those services directly into the development governance process enabled by Akana’s Repository Manager product. As services and applications are designed, implemented, tested and deployed (and perhaps deprecated and withdrawn somewhere down the line), Repository Manager automatically feeds this information back to Portfolio Manager so that the service planning community always has a clear view of the state of their SOA initiative. This end-to-end common metamodel and governance process model is a hallmark of Akana’s industry-leading unified SOA governance automation suite.