Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What is the cost maintaining the data we need for informed decision making

I am often asked about the costs of maintain the information needed to make informed decisions.

I have recently got some facts from two different sources - one a bank in Australia and the second a large utility in Europe. Both are of similiar size.

It is difficult to get validated real world data on the broad range of information required (from business strategies, through business operations, through to technology). It may be that some things e.g. business goals and strategies may very little effort to maintain, however things have more properties, characteristics or relationships and may take more effort. Of course with many we can record them at different levels of detail from different perspectives (determined by the focus of our interest.)

Applications are potentially one of the more complicated things that data is captured about. Applications, or more accurately the services and user interfaces that applications provide, are also useful to consider as they are of interest to several parties e.g. business (whose function it is to achieve business results with the services and user interfaces) and technology (whose function it is to provide the services and user interfaces).

The two organisations both capture a few dozen key properties and relationships about they applications and both have similiar intended uses.

One of the organisations uses a strategic IT planning solutions that acts a single of truth for a wide range of business and technical stakeholders. They have calculated that maintaining a set of information they need about applications takes about 90minutes a year.

The other organisation has calculated the manual cost of creating an application inventory costs them 1-2 hours each application, each time it is done (in documents e.g. Word, Excel and Powerpoint). They also say that it is done many times a year to support to many initiatives and assessments (risk, regulatory, cost etc.) and by different parties. If we said that such an inventory is created just 3-4 times a year that would put the cost at 6-8 hours per year.

This reinforces my view that maintaining an enterprise architecture using the right class of solutions has a negative cost i.e. 1.5 hours per year, vs 6-8 hours per year in the case of the applications inventory.

Of course another strategy could be not to gather the information necessary for informed decision making - but few people openly advocate this.

The also ignores the fact that when this information is done in documents it is difficult or impossible to relate to other data, to analyse, to render in different visualisations.

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