What separates winners from losers in the global marketplace? It’s the ability to take quick, confident action in a constantly changing and highly competitive environment. Good business planning and analysis help companies capitalize on emerging opportunities, allowing them to make value-driven decisions quickly as the needs of markets and customers change. But without the support of an agile and flexible enterprise, making smart and timely decisions is virtually impossible. To achieve this flexibility, mature businesses need a clear picture of where their capabilities are today, so they can begin making improvements.

When properly implemented and managed, enterprise architecture and project portfolio management initiatives can offer just this sort of analysis. Essentially, you get a “blueprint” of your organization’s business infrastructure as it exists today, as well as a map toward the changes you need to meet critical goals and address market and economic challenges. A 2007 McKinsey survey and analysis of 100 companies in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States found that “aligned IT and business result in double the productivity gains of isolated business and IT efforts.”1 But where do you start?
Aligning IT and Business
Enterprise architecture (EA) is the practice of creating and maintaining a dynamic, interactive blueprint of an organization that represents the business operations, locations, processes, and supporting technology. This blueprint allows analysis of opportunities, risks, dependencies, and relationships of the people, operations, strategies, and technologies of an organization. Typically, two blueprints exist—a “current state” to view how the organization is operating today, and a “future state” to view how the organization will operate tomorrow.
Project portfolio management (PPM) is a related discipline that helps executives and teams make the right decisions to deliver business, customer, and market value. PPM provides visibility into each project’s total expected cost, consumption of resources, expected time line, benefits to be realized, and relationship or interdependencies with other projects in the portfolio. PPM analysis allows you to capture input from customers, analysts, market research, etc. and prioritize according to what provides the most value to the business. It also helps you use visualization, prioritization, and unique road mapping and planning capabilities to ensure that plans are innovative, valuable, and achievable. And it is centralized information that speeds your ability to respond to changing market and business conditions.
Using an integration of EA and PPM techniques, organizations can plan business change and transformation more effectively and reliably. They can ensure that technology investments reflect the growth needs of the organization—expanding into new markets while retaining current ones. This provides the quintessential alignment of business and IT.
But what is new here? After all, CEOs and other executives understand that they need to change—and change constantly. The difference is, with EA and PPM, business leaders gain more powerful forward-looking analysis, which can become part of an integrated, flexible, and transparent approach to improving business operations.
The new era of integrated planning and analysis
Business leaders have often resisted structured approaches to systematic planning (such as business intelligence and decision support systems) for a variety of reasons, including tool complexity and lack of clear need. Indeed, planning initiatives from the 1980s and 1990s were often focused exclusively on technology concerns and steeped in discussions about methodology and standards. Today’s practices and technologies focus instead on solving business challenges and embracing users who do not have deep technical or planning domain knowledge.
What’s more, achieving results requires more than technology. Endorsement by management as well as the thought leaders and key influencers in the organization is key to success. The most successful businesses take an integrated approach that looks at the organization holistically—its strategies, business structure, and organization as well as its technology and information.
Integrated planning and analysis, as provided by an enterprise architecture and project portfolio management platform, consists of:

  1. Strategies, goals, objectives, and vision of the organization. Quantitative items (cost, revenue, new products or services) get the primary focus as they help the organization create plans that impact the bottom line of the organization.
  2. Business structure, organization, and processes. Referred to as the “business architecture,” this is the organization’s structure (such as central corporation with several business units), key processes, services or value-chains delivered, and the processes that deliver these functions.
  3. Information and applications. This component shows how information and software automate and support the organization’s business functions and processes.
  4. Technology. The technology component links the underlying technology (servers, computers, networks) to the business processes and functions and their supporting information and applications.

Understanding these elements can reveal waste and redundancies. In analyzing the business structure, the organization might find duplication of effort or other inefficiencies, as shown in figure 1:
figure 1: Sample organizational business architecture
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Table 1

Server 1 Server 2 Server 3 Server 4
Customer Service 1 Primary Backup Legacy:
Retained when new process was deployed
Retained when new process was deployed
Customer Service 2 Backup Primary Legacy:
Retained when new process was deployed
Retained when new process was deployed

This business illustrated in figure 1 could clearly improve efficiency by standardizing on processes; a single shared process throughout the organization would allow consolidation of resources that support the process and for the standardization of training and support for the process. Not only does the organization need better control and management of processes, but the resources needed for information, applications, and technology can be reduced, which would result in better operations and lower costs.
From a bottom-up perspective, technology, applications, and information investments can be verified and quantified regarding their ability to support key business functions, goals, and priorities. For example, table 1 clearly shows that two of the four servers, although required for some processes, are not needed for the process of customer service call logging (the process could be consolidated on just two servers).
In viewing results of this sort of analysis, the solution appears obvious. But prior to holistic integrated planning and analysis, the redundancies were hidden.
Planning creates the iterative steps an organization might take to implement new business technology while removing old technology and its costs. With a blueprint of the current state and future state, the organization can create project road maps that detail a progression of change from today to tomorrow, revealing a progression toward the future state.
An initial strategy
Businesses must often justify enterprise architecture initiatives with quick wins, which can result in self-funding of future EA initiatives. The following are samples of key focus areas for launching a business planning and analysis effort, representing a rapid course to realized value, based on specific needs:

  • IT Planning and Consolidation: Remove assets that don’t support any business functionality (application, products, hardware).
  • Business Efficiency: Learn where the organization does not operate effectively and identify the best course of action for new business initiatives, services, and programs.
  • ERP Governance: Understand and verify the need for costly incremental and recurring expenses related to their packaged (ERP) applications. Many organizations have little insight into the tremendous cost of their packaged applications.

Planning that reveals risks and impacts while providing multiple scenarios yields the best outcomes, and planning precision requires powerful tools for business and technology management and staff to navigate to the best outcome. The blending of two proven capabilities—enterprise architecture and project portfolio management—provides organizations with the means to truly integrate, automate, and instrument reliable business and technology planning.