>No Real Solution Without Integration

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Emergency Management Magazine (July/August 2010) has an article called “Life Savers” that describes how a convergence of new technologies will help protect and save first responder lives. These new technologies can track first responders’ location (“inside buildings, under rubble, and even below ground”) and monitor their vital signs and send alerts when their health is in danger.

There are numerous technologies involved in protecting our first responders and knowing where they are and that their vitals are holding up:

  • For locating them—“It will likely take some combination of pedometers, altimeters, and Doppler velocimeters…along with the kinds of inertial measurement tools used in the aerospace industry.”
  • For monitoring health—“We’ve got a heart monitor; we can measure respiration, temperature. We can measure how much work is being done, how much movement.”

The key is that none of the individual technologies alone can solve the problem of first responder safety. Instead, “All of those have to be pulled together in some form. It will have to be a cocktail solution,” according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate that is leading the effort.

Aside from the number of technologies involved in protecting first responders, there is also the need to integrate the technologies so they work flawlessly together in “extreme real world conditions,” so for example, we are not just monitoring health and location at the scene of an emergency, but also providing vital alerts to those managing the first responders. This involves the need to integrate the ability to collect inputs from multiple sensors, transmit it, interpret it, and make it readily accessible to those monitoring the scene—and this is happening all under crisis situations.

While the first responder technology “for ruggedized vital-sign sensors could begin in two years and location tracking in less than a year,” the following lessons are clear:

  • The most substantial progress to the end-user is not made from lone, isolated developments of technology and science, but rather from a convergence of multiple advances and findings that produce a greater synergistic effect. For example, it clearly takes the maturity of numerous technologies to enable the life saving first responder solution envisioned.
  • Moreover, distinct technical advances from the R&D laboratory must be integrated into a solution set that performs in the real world for the end-user; this is when product commercialization becomes practical. In the case of the first responder, equipment must function in emergency, all hazard conditions.
  • And finally, to bring the multiple technologies together into a coherent end-user solution, someone must lead and many parties must collaborate (often taking the form of a project sponsor and an integrated project team) to advance and harmonize the technologies, so that they can perform as required and work together seamlessly. In the case of the first responder technology, DHS S&T took the lead to come up with the vision and make it viable and that will save lives in the future.

>IT Planning and Enterprise Architecture

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Perhaps many of you have wondered what the relationship is between the IT Strategic Plan and the Enterprise Architecture Transition Plan? Why do you need both? Isn’t one IT plan just like another?

There are many different plans starting with the organization’s strategic plan that drives the IT plan and so forth. Each sequential layer of the plan adds another crucial dimension for the plan to enable it to achieve it ultimate implementation.

The various plans establish line of sight from the highest level plan for the organization to individual performance plans and the implementation of new or changes to systems, IT products and standards, and ultimately to the capabilities provided the end-user.

Here is my approach to User-centric IT Planning:

1. Organizational Strategic Plan—the highest level overall plan enterprise; it identifies the goals and objectives of the organization, and drives the IT Strategic Plan.

2. IT Strategic Pan—the IT Plan for the enterprise; it identifies the IT goals and objectives, and drives the IT Performance Plan.

3. IT Performance Plan—a decomposition of the IT Plan; it identifies IT initiatives and milestones, and drives the IT Roadmap and Individual Performance Plans.

4. IT Roadmap and Individual Performance Plans

a) IT Roadmap—a visual timeline of the IT Performance Plan; it identifies programs and projects milestones, and drives the Target Architecture and Transition Plan.

b) Individual Performance Plans—the performance plans for your IT staff; it is derived from the IT Performance Plan, and provides line of sight from the Organizational and IT Strategic Plans all the way to the individual’s performance plan, so everyone knows what they are supposed to do and why (i.e. how it fits into the overall goals and objectives.

5. Target Architecture and Transition Plan

a) Target Architecture—a decomposition of the IT Roadmap into systems and IT products and standards; it identifies the baseline (As-Is) and the target (To-Be) for new and major changes to systems and IT products and standards.

[Note: Target Architecture can also be used in more general terms to refer to the future state of the organization and IT, and this is how I often use it.]

b) Transition Plan—a visual timeline of the changes for implementing the changes to go from the baseline (As-Is) to the target (To-Be) state for systems and IT products and standards.

6. Capabilities—the target state in terms of business capabilities provided to the end-user derived from the changes to systems, IT products and standards, and business processes; it is derived from the Target Architecture and Transition Plan.

This planning approach is called User-centric IT Planning because it is focused on the end-user. User-centric IT Planning develops a plan that is NOT esoteric or shelfware, but rather one that is focused on being actionable and valuable to the organization and its end-users. User-centric IT plans have line of sight from the organization’s strategic plan all the way to the individual performance plans and end-user capabilities.

Now that’s the way to plan IT!