How Shaw is architecting its future

Enterprise Architecture is the foundation for ensuring IT and business alignment within Calgary-based telecommunications firm Shaw Communications Inc.

“Without an EA program, Shaw’s IT direction would be misaligned and ad hoc at best,” said Richard Hannah, Director, Corporate Architecture and Development. “We believe an EA program is a competitive advantage and will ensure that the company is not held back by the technology decisions it makes.”

Shaw’s EA contains a complete view of the ‘as-is’ state of the Enterprise Architecture: Business Architecture, Application Architecture, Data Architecture and Technology Architecture.

“More importantly,” said Hannah, “it contains a view of the future state that aligns with Shaw’s future business and strategic plans, ensuring that our technology assets will enable these plans.”

For Shaw, the requirement to replace a core piece of its technology was the catalyst for initiating the EA program. The benefits resulting from this initiative have helped to garner support for the program.

“Every IT project, big or small, is first reviewed against the EA to ensure that it is in alignment with the future state before moving forward for approval,” said Hannah. “This ensures that the ‘as-is’ state is kept up-to-date and also that all technology decisions are in line with the future state.”

Shaw’s EA program follows a popular framework and is captured using an EA tool. All ongoing projects use the EA tool to update business requirements, processes, models and the corresponding applications, data and technology.

Some of the methods used to quantify the benefits of the EA program include ROA (Return on Assets) and TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).

Overall IT governance at the company includes a sub-group on EA governance. This sub-group is made up of all areas of IT and any other areas that involve technology (e.g., Engineering) and the business.

The objectives of EA governance at Shaw are to:

• Set and review Architecture guiding principles

• Review all proposed changes to the Architecture (i.e. new OS introduction, etc.)

• Verify compliance to the EA

• Review the future state and ensure it continues to reflect the future business direction.

“For an EA program to succeed it is critical that it has senior business management support, and this support must be visible throughout the organization,” Hannah concluded. “For it to truly represent the complete enterprise, all levels of the organization must be supportive of the program.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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