Architecture & Process: Robert Pillar

The first breakout session of the day was on connecting BPM, SOA and EA for enterprise transformation, with Robert Pillar of Microsoft. He’s talking about how compliance is the key driver to the coalition of BPM, SOA and EA, but that the coalition starts with holistic collaboration. There are barriers to this:

  • Organizational barriers: IT organizations and silos between EA, SOA and BPM groups
  • Cultural barriers: lack of understanding the business value, lack of understanding the concepts, and old-style mentality
  • Political barriers: resistance to change
  • Collaboration barriers: resistance to meetings and collaboration

Risks and benefits must be measured.

At this point, someone in the audience spoke up and said “we understand all this, can you just skip ahead to any solutions to these issues that you have to present?” Incredibly rude, and really put the speaker on the spot, but he had a point.

He had a summary slide on why to choose SOA:

  • It offers a focus on business processes and goals: supports customer centric view of the business, allows design of solutions that keep requirement changes (agility) in mind
  • It offers an iterative and incremental approach following EA and BPM initiatives: make change happen over time, allow employees learn about the concept of services
  • It offers a means to reap the benefits of existing investments on technology: reuse IT resources, focus on business problems without being entangled in the technology

He sees EA and BPM as leading us to SOA, which is a valid point: if you do EA and BPM, you’ll definitely start to do SOA. However, I see many organizations starting with SOA in the absence of either EA or BPM.

6 thoughts on “Architecture & Process: Robert Pillar”

  1. The speaker identified four important and related issues organizational, cultural, political, and collaboration barriers. I understand the frustration of the audience member, but I find that people in technical environments often want quick-fix solutions to those types of challenges. They would rather place their attention on the “good stuff” – the things that got them interested in engineering, IT, accounting, and so forth.
    And, of course, that makes sense. Who doesn’t like to work on things that interest us. But, the bad news is that they can easily miss the human dimension of these projects. I believe that is a major reason why BPR projects have somewhere around a 20 percent success rate.
    I find that my clients who get interested in the deeper reasons why those barriers exist, have much better success finding strategies to deal with them.

    And thanks for a fine post.

    Rick Maurer (blog)

  2. Rick, thanks for your comment. I think that the complaints from the audience — and I heard it from other people who attended the same session — is that this was a fairly shallow listing of the issues, not any deep analysis or understanding.

    His slide deck doesn’t appear to be on the conference’s SlideShare group, but I seem to recall that he promised to discuss solutions, not just issues.

  3. I gained a new perspective from this valuable session. We often begin with the silver bullet mentality, (especially from technology) but in the end it comes down to understanding what works for a specific organization starting with the multiple vectors as Mr. Pillar’s one slide displayed. I concurred with the simple statement (and the one rude gentleman up front doesn’t get this) that it’s never technology for the sake of technology. Perhaps in 45 minutes he expected the speaker to fix all of his problems. I also noticed and appreciated his honesty in describing how to work with software vendors in these situations to promote collaborative dialogue and partnership.
    I’ve seen this same presenter at a Delphi event a few years back and he has refreshing perspectives on the impact of various IT and Business drivers . Its also Refreshing to hear this from a Microsoft person
    I emailed him and he quickly forwarded the presentation as well as a related Cutter Consortium whitepaper and mentioned that he had provided the copy to the conference organizers as well.

  4. I don’t think that anyone is expecting a speaker to fix his problems in 45 minutes. However, with only 45 minutes to speak in front of an audience that presumably already knows about business-IT barriers because they live with them every day, I personally would not have spent half of the time talking on that subject.

  5. So you are saying that everyone equally values the same issues and that they have same impact to their organization? Granted there was marked leaning of this presentation to private industry- but understanding how a problem impacts a SPECIFIC enterprise IS half the battle, and it’s a unique collection of relevant variables was part of that understanding- simply understanding that there needs to be a weighted and unique calculation of these variables was the gold from this session. They are more than alphabet soup as he described them
    Personally this was the “ah- huh” moment for me- apparently it went over most people’s heads.

    I find it interesting that in any response positive on this session – you have felt the need to negatively counter- its your blog, but I discovered it in searching for info a conference I paid to attend so is there some association/ motivation perhaps?

  6. I’m glad that you found the session beneficial, that’s the reason that we all go to conferences.

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