(PRWEB) July 21, 2005
It is a truism that huge potential exists for the exchange of IT 'lessons learned' between the government and commercial sectors. Many government agencies are absorbing such lessons as systems integrators and consultants Â wielding expertise in architecture, reuse, and modeling tools Âexpand into the government market from their traditional base of corporate IT customers.
A case in point is Blueprint Technologies, a fast-growing consulting firm specializing in enterprise architecture and reuse solutions since its founding in 1997. Building on architecting experience gained in IT engagements with Fortune 2000-class companies, Blueprint is now leveraging Troux's Metis® visual modeling toolset, and its own set of best practices, in the public sector. Projects related to mission fulfillment are in progress at a number of Federal agencies including the IRS, EPA, and the Department of Health & Human Services. In many cases, the goal is to help agency customers achieve mission fulfillment through reaching the Office of Management and Budget's assessment Level 3, a measure of agencies' maturity in managing IT using enterprise architecture. Level 3 represents a comprehensive and effective enterprise architecture, which has been a challenging goal for many agencies.
ÂEnterprise Architecture is a vitamin.Â
ÂThe government has a lot of enterprise architecture principles now being adapted by commercial companies; equally, we find the commercial market's solution architecture work is generally more advanced than the government's,Â says Jeanne O'Kelley, Blueprint's president and CEO, whose small, woman-owned firm migrated from an almost 90% involvement in the commercial market to the public sector three years ago.
ÂWe were drawn to the government by the opportunities for architecting on a grand scale,Â O'Kelley continues. ÂWe also realized that as commercial companies look for solutions, they are still buying pain killers, not vitamins. Enterprise architecture is a vitamin. Vitamins will solve the problems organizations face, it just takes longer and you need funding. Few CIOs want to take on that challenge during their budget watch.Â For the visionary Federal CIOs who do, however, O'Kelley notes EA as it has been mandated by OMB is a discipline analogous to a healthy lifestyle, one that actually reduces the need for expensive and too-often ineffective
'Federated' architecting at multiple levels within HHS
The analogy is apropos to Blueprint's work as a subcontractor architecting at multiple levels within the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). O'Kelley notes that HHS has standardized on the Metis tool for architecture visual modeling. Blueprint's expert developers use the tool to build architectures at the department level (HHS), the operating division level (Food & Drug Administration; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), and at the center level (three FDA Centers Â for Biologics Evaluation and Research; Drug Evaluation and Research; and Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Â as well as the FDA's Office of Regulatory Affairs). ÂIn a federated fashion, the architectural information at the lower levels all rolls up for use in creating the enterprise architecture at the departmental level, which in turn rolls up into the OMB's requirements,Â O'Kelley says.
Most recently in its work for the FDA, Blueprint has begun implementing new Business Process Modeling (BPM) facilities within Metis for documenting the key business activities of the agency. With this information, FDA architects and managers can determine how their IT portfolios align to business needs and prioritize their investments accordingly. ÂBeing able to look at proposed investments and assess how they align to their projected architecture is an invaluable benefit to CIOs, CTOs, and enterprise architects in the FDA and other agencies that are evaluating their portfolios,Â says Craig Miller, Blueprint Technologies' Director of Enterprise Planning Solutions.
Compliance and analytics combine to achieve mission results, business transformation
Blueprint's O'Kelley agrees. She acknowledges that EA implementations are more advanced in federal agencies than in corporations, owing to legislative and executive branch mandates -- including OMB directives for agencies to align their strategic agendas with their IT investments in order to receive funding for IT projects. ÂLooking beyond the need for compliance, however, to the principles behind enterprise architecture, the real issue for our government clients is: how do they make better investments? To do that, they need to first align their technology infrastructure with their business processes, and then perform analytics on their EA models. This ability provides the foundation for true business transformation from an organization's current state to an optimized future state, such as the OMB's Level 3.Â
As an example, O'Kelley cites early-stage work that Blueprint is doing for the Internal Revenue Service. ÂBy creating custom extensions to the IRS metamodel, we have created a dashboard that allows users to choose the analytics they want performed on their models -- essentially mining the models to get statistical information and answer important business questions in real time. Without this kind of capability, there is a risk that an enterprise architecture might become just another piece of shelfware.Â
Future forward: Scalable database provides the foundation for analytics, SOA modeling
The prospect for creating such dynamic 'actionable' models is an important new direction for Blueprint and its clients. Accordingly, Blueprint plans to use the forthcoming integration of Metis and the Troux IT Transformation Suite. ÂWe see huge opportunities for implementing the powerful reporting and analysis capabilities in Troux and the unique facility for automated data collection in the integrated Troux/Metis solution,Â says Blueprint's Miller, who is on a Troux Advisory Board guiding the integration of the two products. ÂOur customers will get the best of both worlds: Troux's data management and analysis, Metis' rich visualization, and Blueprint's architecture and reuse principles. This sort of product integration, which will include a highly scalable database, is essential for accommodating the volume of enterprise-wide data sets involved as the scale of enterprise architecture expands to service-oriented architectures on the Web.Â
Blueprint's O'Kelley says that, for the immediate future, Blueprint is setting its sights on the federal lines of business in health and national security. ÂWe expect to eventually devote resources to growing back into the commercial market, especially in pharmaceuticals, building on the expertise we have gained in working with federal health agencies.Â
Blueprint for Growth
Blueprint Technologies, http://www.blueprinttech.com, is a small, woman-owned firm specializing in architecture and reuse solutions for the federal and corporate IT markets. Blueprint provides teams of expert enterprise solution architects who define and implement blueprints that modernize business services and IT capabilities to fulfill agency objectives. Its architects leverage an iterative, architecture-centric and model-driven process, state-of-the-art tools, and reusable assets to quickly produce accurate, business-relevant blueprints that decrease development time and effort, minimize maintenance costs, and reduce program risk.
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