The Flexible Enterprise: Creating a New Breed of Corporations

Published in TDAN.com July 2006


Introduction:

Let us start with a very simple question – what would happen if your company could change your IT applications as fast as your business change, so that you would always have updated IT support to
grow your business? Sounds too god to be true? It isn’t and the answer to this question goes far beyond simple process reengineering, corporate planning or constant hardware/software upgrades – we
call it the “Flexible Enterprise”.


What is a Flexible Enterprise?

In very simple words, is a set of processes where all business, IT and supporting functions of a company work in a totally integrated fashion – actually, there is no physical limit between these
areas, and the synergy is so tight that changes are almost automatic and activated at every company move.


How this Happens?

In traditional companies, all work starts with administrative organization, then IT support is continuously implemented and finally decision support systems complete the scenario.

The problem with his approach is that integration does not happen at once and then, for every market or strategic change, everything must be changed, in a very different speed (always slower than
effectively needed), to match these new changes.

In a Flexible Enterprise, one change reflects immediately everywhere, so that changes are applied in a fraction of time used under traditional approaches.


Which is the Tool for this new process?

The tool applied for this new evolutionary process is called Data Dictionary – in fact, a central repository of procedures, strategies, and systems related information, stored in an integrated
mode, and linked between them to track and reflect changes.

For every new situation or scenario change, all affected objects are immediately identified and the needed changes are tracked to completion.

This tool also is used to track corporate results from these changes/additions to the corporate mechanism, so that the company is also aware of its moves – analytical tools complete the scenario,
as the diagram below shows:


Flexible Enterprise – The Data Dictionary Approach


Advantages:

This totally new approach implies in many visible results, like:

  1. All corporate information is immediately accessible for all authorized members of the company.
  2. Process Tracking, essential for the corporation, does not need to pass through long analysis cycles, just a quick check into the Dictionary.
  3. Systems modeling, integrated to process modeling and tracking, generates smaller development cycles to very fast deployment. For being a logical set of procedures, it can be used with any
    methodology or software, leveraging the IT architectures and reducing costs.
  4. Information quality can be truly measured against goals achieved, enabling decision makers to evaluate strategies and their next moves towards the market.
  5. Maintenance costs are reduced to a minimum, due to the smaller development life cycles.
  6. The Data Dictionary gets a wider scope as both an information management and a corporate performance evaluation tool.


Implementation Steps

In order to create the Flexible Enterprise, there are two basic steps to follow:

Step 1 – Education at all corporate levels about the crucial importance of getting together both IT and business in a single “wrapper”, capable of allowing anybody
inside it to view the desired information and apply it to its particular needs.

Step 2 – Implementing a Corporate DD(Data Dictionary) for storing both business and information objects in a single place, for all the corporation units. This step uses
defines a “global” knowledge base and the relationship between business and information objects, to quickly identify and track potential changes and risks to the information structure, open
control projects and manage applications.

During the implementation and maintenance of the Corporate DD, Development tools and technologies can be added so that the new repository can be integrated with any tools and environments
available, providing a scalable information management tool, hardware and software independent, whose main purpose is to keep and manage information assets in any form.

With these two steps implemented, a new Systems Development Life Cycle can take place – smaller, faster and easier to implement. The new focus is the company, not just systems or business
procedures anymore.


Conclusion:

Creating the corporate knowledge base, through the use of Data Dictionaries, is the best way to integrate business and IT tools and systems in a single case, lowering the error margins to a
minimum, tracking results and leading to cost reductions in IT, without sacrificing business performance.

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About Marco Ribeiro

Marco Aurelio Ribeiro, 46, is a Data Architect with over 25 yrs of IT experience, most of which were dedicated to Corporate Data Dictionaries and Knowledge Management, for application in systems development and / or maintenance.

Marco Aurelio C.Ribeiro
Mribeiro346@hotmail.com
Cell: +55(19)9734-6932
Phone:+55(19)3871-2267

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