Delivery Documentaries are a behind the scenes look at how our Enterprise Architects (EAs) in the field perform Value Realization activities for customers. The documentaries are raw and real, and the purpose is to share what actually happens on the ground. They are always a learning opportunity, and we hope that over time we can help bridge the state of the art with the state of the practice, and continue to move the ball forward.

What happens when an insurance company looks into modernizing business applications to increase productivity, improve customer service, and create a more easily supportable ecosystem for their employees and customers? Let’s see…

Executive Summary

This is a Delivery Documentary of an engagement led by the Microsoft Enterprise Strategy Program (ESP), which provides services to help customers realize value from their technology investments. In this engagement, an Enterprise Architect helped Contoso Health Insurance develop a strategy to transform the business with mobile devices, and to rationalize and streamline the enterprise application portfolio.

The Enterprise Architect worked with a team of colleagues and subject matter experts (SME’s) to help stakeholders and end users envision a mobility strategy that would increase productivity and improve customer service. In addition, the team provided recommendations for adopting a modern application platform that would improve app hosting and enable agile development and testing of apps.

Bringing in a Team

I was originally brought into Contoso Health Insurance by a Project Lead responsible for workstations, in response to new requirements for supporting mobility, and multiple devices and platforms. We continuously reported our status, findings, and recommendations to the Project Lead, even prior to formal presentations to stakeholders.

We also brought in different recognized industry and regional SMEs in health care, a mobility architect, IT strategy consultants, and Microsoft IT about our use of system center. We established peer-to-peer connections between the Microsoft IT department, and the IT department of Contoso Health Insurance. This quickly revealed many different perspectives about the issues, priorities, and pain points.

Beginning the Engagement

Before starting detailed discovery, we facilitated kick off meetings where the executive sponsors, CIOs, and CTOs presented their perspectives on business value. These views guided us through the engagement as we identified and compared value propositions of different possible initiatives.

We had many meetings with individuals, teams, and sub-teams to explore the areas in which we could make valuable changes. The discussions focused on productivity, optimization, and security. We were just finding out the lay of the land, not making recommendations yet. The breadth of topics was comprehensive, covering business processes, platforms, how apps are hosted, standards, security policies, industry trends, and more.

In some cases, we provided information and guidance from Microsoft SME’s. For example, we drilled more into the nature of information protection strategies, bring your own device strategies, and measuring results from such changes. The detailed guidance that helped at the beginning of the engagement included information about:

  • Personas
  • Business Applications Platform
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Application Portfolio Management
  • Information Architecture and Data Classification
  • Workstation Strategy

Conducting Discovery and Validation

During the discovery process, we reviewed the pains and needs of the company as expressed by the CIO, CTO, and many stakeholders. We conducted activities to help executives and stakeholders envision their goals, and discussed business goals that could impact the architecture. We also presented some context about how our recommendations could be addressed, while maintaining a focus on business objectives.

To make the discovery process as efficient as possible, we first focused on capturing as much information as we could. We then took a short break from the process to gather additional data and perform analysis to support discussions of business value. After preparing a summary of our findings, we met again with executives and stakeholders to validate our findings.

The validation meetings revealed more about the details we needed to frame our recommendations, especially in emphasizing value to all stakeholders. For example, one discussion we had in the first week of discovery was around security and identity management. We found they had many security-related systems, each handling different aspects. There were also projects in progress for updating some of the systems.

When we analyzed this area, we found that a new overarching project was necessary to provide the desired benefits. When we met again to validate our findings, we talked to the security team and confirmed that we were on the same page with them about the value of these projects.

Presenting Recommendations for Enterprise Services

We created a report of our recommendations and presented it to our sponsor to review. After discussing the details with the sponsor, and other business leaders, we met with a broad audience. During the meeting we discussed what we had done so far, itemized the areas we looked at, described what we had found, and talked about the areas that we suggest receive the most focus.

Our presentation covered these topics:

  • Priorities and Capabilities
  • Risks and Dependencies
  • Value Assessment
  • Goals and Objectives
  • Stakeholders and Resources

We had an additional recommendations meeting with stakeholders who would be paying for the work. In this meeting we focused on the high value areas of work, quantitative measurements, the expected return on investment, and the cost. We identified a number of strategic changes that created a large enough value proposition to offset the cost of adding an architecture resource.

During this meeting, one of the company’s directors gave a presentation validating our work, providing additional support for our recommendations.

In summary, we proposed the following work streams, which a Microsoft Architect could help drive.

Application Rationalization

Numerous overlapping applications were deployed within different areas of the Contoso organization. Prior efforts to rationalize, integrate, or migrate applications had been unproductive; many applications no longer had active owners or anyone in the business with knowledge of how to modernize them. In some cases, IT had to maintain support for old operating systems on servers and workstations to enable outdated applications to continue working.

We proposed to rationalize the portfolio to identify apps to retire, and which apps they already have that can provide modern app capabilities they desire.

Modern Applications and App Hosting

There was no standardized app platform at Contoso, preventing effective mobile use of business apps, creating service-level problems, and hindering the creation of modern apps.

We proposed that moving to a platform that would enable modern apps, demonstrated prototypes and pilots from industry teams (such as healthcare and insurance), and quickly gained support from management to move forward on this work-stream.

Summary of Deliverables

We created a number of deliverables during the engagement in the process of collecting, analyzing, and presenting information:

  • Benefits Dependency Network (BDN) for the initiative: Covering drivers, strategic options, benefits, and strengths/enablers
  • In-depth analysis of personas: Focusing on mobility and content, user needs/wants, technology options, and key changes from current to future state
  • In-depth analysis of business scenario: Considering business objective, initial and final state, persona roles and responsibilities, work flow, and key changes from current to future state
  • Sample financial model and high-level solution architecture for the initiative
  • Recommendations report

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