Dave Wallace gives a first-hand account of how he’s making sure business and IT priorities are aligned in Canada’s largest municipality. Plus: Contribute to the CIO Canada Brainstorm Centre

City of Toronto CIO explains enterprise architecture plan

Our CIO Canada Brainstorm Centre encourages users to edit our definitions of difficult concepts in IT management. Our latest focus is on enterprise architecture. We asked David Wallace, CIO for the City of Toronto, to offer his perspectives on an emerging discipline.

1.    Value of Enterprise Architecture – Continuing to Grow! 

One of the main roles of Enterprise Architecture (EA) at the City of Toronto is to ensure that business priorities and information technology (IT) investments are in alignment.    A key aspect this role is to assess current or ‘as-is’ systems and applications and ‘architect’ their ‘to-be’ state, and to gauge the delta/costs/level of change management between these states. This is especially important to municipalities right now to show how IT is assisting fiscal efficiency reviews and improvements.

EA is at its heart, a comprehensive view of all that is IT and the business strategy, information, service, process, security, privacy, workflow and innovation requirements that drive IT. This comprehensive view allows the business leaders and the CIO to see what the impacts are from potential changes, decisions and opportunities. With this capability, it is also a strong basis for governance.

A core Architecture principle is interoperability. The goal of this principle is to design a municipality’s systems in way that they can easily ‘talk’ to each other. 

Using this approach, the City of Toronto’s EA team is re-engineering the City’s Electronic Service Delivery channels and in particular, the web channel.  

This approach is also valuable to review the current system architectures and uncover issues where system inter-operability is complex – where the number of applications and system interfaces currently maintained is large. Under these conditions (as exists in many municipalities), systems interfaces with many different other systems, some of which are external to the organization, are complex.   This ‘web’ of applications results in a complex system integration architecture, which becomes more difficult to support and maintain over time. EA is a way to navigate through this complexity and lay out a road map to consolidate, standardize and simplify the systems environment, leading to lower costs to enhance and maintain IT applications.

2.    Business Architecture – Designing IT from the Client In

One of the most critical domains of the EA is the business domain. The City has been very successful in working with business areas to develop effective and accurate “program maps” of their services and for specific business change initiatives. An example of one of these initiatives is the City’s successful 311 implementation. Another example is the business architecture that was developed to examine the electronic service delivery directions of the City. Common requirements and components, along with information management considerations were developed in a detailed Electronic Service Delivery business architecture that showed how clients of the City – residents, visitors and business – could access City services from a “client in” perspective in a whole new “My Toronto” way. This architecture is also be used to lay out the priorities and options in terms of how to best stage in these new “bundles” of services.

3.    Supporting the IT Planning and Portfolio Management

Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a critical support to IT Planning – and specifically can lay out solid and proved approaches to helping business leaders and the CIO look into the future and understand the options that could be taken over a multi-year span. By linking business and IT together, a cross-reference of business directions and the EA can be done to ensure that IT plans and strategies are tangible and will deliver. One of the best practices to follow is to have different “views” on the organization’s EA to represent the different options and potential results. 

From a portfolio perspective, IT Portfolios are all about balancing acts, balancing the longer terms IT investments with shorter term interim or more immediate IT solutions. The portfolio needs to be balanced in terms of risk against return. More and more IT is being asked to deliver and to prove it – through strong, straight forward performance measures that are in the IT plans and that are inherent in the EA. EA can be used to focus on the common components/IT investments that give the biggest bang for the buck and by doing so, reduce the number of IT initiatives and ultimately, how much is being spent on IT in a City.
 
Help us define the future of enterprise architecture. Review the enterprise architecture wiki in the CIO Canada Brainstorm Centre and make your revisions today.
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