Information Technology Architecture: INTRODUCTION TO ENTERPRISE ARCHITECTURE
The initiatives for Data standards has been interesting as it proposes a solution to the gaps I am noticing at the district I have been researching. As I investigated the current state of the district, communication and system gaps which became so obvious, yet overwhelming with my lack of understanding in potential solutions, the light bulb has gone off. The critical factors of Data standards that need to be noted are the benefits from the common data models, language and interoperability between multiple standards/initiative which provides data across the “community of stakeholders” to inform decisions, instruction and best practices. (CEDS.ed.gov)
Employing this standards not only address the gaps in communication from schools, district and state level, it also allows policy makers, administrators, teachers and technologist gather data and address the needs across the CCSS and other standards. This provides educators to design quality alignment with standards and professional learning to best deliver learning services. I can now see the strengths and needs of the current state of services and where joining the Data standards initiative will provide sustainable solut
I have learned that the systems and processes of my current organization have several frameworks creating separate “silos” functioning independently while accessing the same budget. For example, the Educational Services is made up of 10 divisions, some with directors, some without, and all reporting the Assistant Superintendent Curriculum & Resources. With each division it appears to be different systems and very little communication with the Technology Department. While near in proximity in the building, far away in the architecture is the Technology Department organized under Business Services. By breaking down the systems and their subdivisions I found that with some reorganization and communication systems in place the beginnings of a Business Architecture is not as far off as I was predicting. However, this reorganization is not as simple as it looks in a diagram. I found that the current systems are deeply rooted in “the way it has always been done” rationale.
I spoke briefly to the new Superintendent about the current systems in place and her plans for the future around this. She reported that while she did not plan make any changes this soon in her position, there was an obvious lack of communication which she needed to not only address to practical business, but also because she is still trying to understand all the different systems in the district as they are currently and needs the communication herself. The first directors committee meetings was well received and I found myself in shock that she had to implement a regular meeting of directors. I was not shocked however that she did not appear to be familiar with Enterprise Architecture, but with an invitation to meet with her again I am encouraged that she wants to learn of everyone’s perspectives and hopeful that she will begin addressing the gaps and create a foundation for Business Architecture. The first gap I identified was communication so I think she is off to a great start!
Patience is a virtue. When learning about Enterprise Architecture and differing frameworks, I found that I identify many frameworks I know and work with aligning with these models. When studying school districts the organizational practices in place, it becomes obvious where an EA can be applied. A major benefit is maximizing resources and working efficiently by reducing redundancy. From the first time I examined the role of Technology in the district I studied, I immediately noticed how the Technology Department works in isolation, yet plays an important role in every other department. The biggest need in the alignment and communication with Education Services. Should this need be addressed with an EA framework not only would redundancy be eliminated on the department side, but also for teachers!
How does one implement to address this need right away? Where do we start? I learned that the no how loudly the cry for attention, it can’t be addressed just between the two departments first. First the scope needs to be determined and start with a business architecture. This will start with input from stakeholders and ensure goal alignment from the beginning.
As I learn about Enterprise Architecture Methodology, I have noticed and discussed similarities to my current role as a Case Manager in Special Education. The EA frameworks for integrated governance and strategic goal alignment match that of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Team approach, as well as a standardized plan for long term and short term goals for each of my students. This has made the concept clearer to me and also presented other areas of my study and profession where like architectures are resembled, such as Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS.) However, the major difference here are the scale of Enterprise Architecture. The holistic, multidimensional approach to operating a entire company/district creates a framework for all components to align, work towards common goals and allowing for adaptation with future changes.
When looking at how a district approaches implementation of these features, my new understanding of Enterprise Architecture highlights areas of strengths and needs among the organization of the district and it’s approach to technology. In the district I studied, technology and the Technology Department are seen as a strategic asset, however the views, or interpretations of this, differ. Within the organization there are common goals, but it appears that the alignment is off. The Technology Department and the Education Services department have many joint interests and responsibilities, but it is reported that Ed. Services does not understand the depth of involvement and plans with instructional technology. Without this understanding the decisions of Ed. Services often impede implementation and development involving technology. This void, where there should be communication, also creates an IT department in isolation, lacking in input on the needs of the other departments. Time and resources are wasted in all areas because of the gap here. Implementing an Enterprise Architecture would close the gap and create a truly unified school district