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How to build grand ICT designs

Carsten Larsen | Sept. 21, 2016
Once you have contextualised why you are doing something and conceptualised what you are doing it for, you can now determine “how” to best deliver ICT services and “where” they are going to come from.

Unfortunately, many organisations consider architecture an afterthought. Too often the “how” is established without verifying that it can be integrated into the existing technology strategy. This piecemeal approach creates islands of systems that can compromise productivity, or just end up as shelfware.

Developing a sound ICT architecture requires significant time and investment, a strong commitment to working with your organisation to understand the “why and what”, a thorough and strategic approach to technology and a willingness to negotiate and be firm. This process will lay the groundwork for your business, information, application, technology, and security architecture.

Where from?

This is where the sourcing fits in. It sounds obvious, but many operational areas and ICT functions will start sourcing with a detailed wish list of everything that opens and shuts – in the house analogy, the Miele appliances, heated towel rails, biometric door locks and the sentimental collection of homemade Father’s Day gifts.

True, in developing a sound, enduring architecture, the ICT function must be aware of the business requirements. Retrofitting is invariably costly, time consuming and may be suboptimal. However, assess, scrutinise and declutter.

Once your architecture is established, sourcing can be undertaken in a manner that takes account of the broader environment in which infrastructure and applications must securely interoperate.

The ICT architecture will help guide the decision as to whether a requirement should be met using in-house resources, outsourced or cloud based. Whichever solution is selected, check that it fits comfortably within your architecture as they are now based on the organisational “why and what.”

Work with the organisation to ensure that you engage skilled technicians that have the necessary experience. There is a place for DIY but weak fundamentals can bring the house down and distract from smooth operations for years to come.

Know your strengths and where you can source those strengths if you don’t have them. If you’re going to market, a detailed approach to the market based on a considered and well developed architecture is far more likely to draw out suitable providers and solutions.

Invest in maintenance

Finally, ICT architecture, like housing, requires ongoing maintenance. Invest time in reviewing it regularly. If you’ve designed for functionality rather than fad, you’ll be able to adapt with minor renovations, flowing with the overall design. This is where real savings and efficiencies can be realised.

Like any grand design, there will probably be delays, tense moments over payments and relationships, but, with a clear vision, some passion and ingenuity, your ICT architectural design will be enduring and work well for your organisation and the broader stakeholder community.


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