Information management is the key to any enterprise architecture.
Information is the nexus between the business and technical components of the EA:
- On one hand, we have the performance requirements and the business processes to achieve those.
- On the other hand, we have systems and technologies.
- In between is the information.
Information is required by the business to perform its functions and activities and it is served up by the systems and technologies that capture, process, transmit, store, and retrieve it for use by the business. (The information perspective is sandwiched in between the business and the services/technology perspectives.)
Recently, I synthesized a best practice for information management. This involves key values, goals for these, and underlying objectives. The values and objectives include the following:
- Sharing –making information visible, understandable, and accessible.
- Quality—information needs to be valid, consistent, and comprehensive.
- Efficiency—information should be requirement-based (mission-driven), non-duplicative, timely, and delivered in a financially sound way.
- Security—information must be assured in terms of confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
- Compliance—information has to comply with requirements for privacy, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and records management.
The importance of information management to enterprise architecture was recently addressed in DM Review Magazine, May 2008. The magazine reports that in developing an architecture, you need to focus on the information requirements and managing these first and foremost!
“You need to first understand and agree on the information architecture that your business needs. Then determine the data you need, the condition of that data and what you need to do to cleanse, conform, and transform that data into business transformation.”
Only after you fully understand your information requirements, do you move on to develop technology solutions.
“Next, determine what technologies (not products) are required by the information and data architectures. Finally, almost as an afterthought, evaluate and select products.” [I don’t agree with the distinction between technologies and products, but I do agree that you first need your information requirements.]
Remember, business drives technology—and this is done through information requirements—rather than doing technology for technology’s sake.
“Let me also suggest …Do not chase the latest and greatest if your incumbent products can get the job done.”
In enterprise architecture, the customer/end-user is king and the information requirements are their edicts.