Two Critical Roles in Your Enterprise Product’s Lifecycle

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Today’s enterprises contain hundreds of small applications that operate in an environment that can feel like software overload — a recent study by Okta showed that nearly 10% of businesses have more than 200 applications in their enterprise information technology ecosystem, with an overall average of around 130 applications.

This has been great for corporate innovation since it has allowed enterprises to take a more lightweight and diversified approach in their digital strategy. It has also trended with a healthy startup ecosystem that thrives on well defined value propositions to address specific business needs.

All in all, a good development!

However, the modern application portfolio creates new challenges for the traditional information technology function. The shift has driven a need for a more distributed approach to managing product lifecycles and an overall rethinking of data strategy.

A number of industries are beginning to catch on and catch up.

A challenge for many enterprises is selecting new software solutions and inventorying existing solutions.

Your enterprise should be able to answer questions like “How do you handle new product selection?” and “How does a product integrate with existing solutions”?

Successful enterprises answer these questions by systematically empowering two stakeholders that can work together to maintain good technology systems — the enterprise product owner and the enterprise architect.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

These two roles have existed in various forms in information technology groups for years, but they take on a new meaning in the modern application ecosystem.

They work together to eliminate software clutter, improve data security, control overall costs, and govern product integrations. They keep sights on data strategy and see into the future for any potential roadblocks.

Their success requires coordination at the enterprise level. By steering these stakeholders in the right direction, you can make or break the success of any technology portfolio. Crucially, it hinges on maintaining good relationships and healthy dialogue throughout your business operations.

As the information technology ecosystem moves away from single vendors with their all-in-one solutions, enterprise product owners are becoming more and more distributed. In certain cases, there can be multiple product owners across different parts of the business for the same application.

Whichever the case, the product owner is the person that the company leans on to measure business value and inform risk.

The product owner is typically vested in the application’s use and might have specialized knowledge relevant to that application. They’re often a champion and are the ones who will carry the water after a successful startup pilot.

They will answer questions like “What business process does this application impact?” and “How effective is this application in supporting our operations?”

They can also shed light on questions like “What is the sensitivity of data handled by this application?” and “How big is the internal market?”

The product owner should have an ear to the rail capturing and prioritizing needs. When the product itself can be spread further, they’re important in providing leadership and mobilizing key resources to support wider adoption.

Oftentimes, new applications are simply picked up by folks on an as needed basis — these are the ones that regular canvassing should be able to uncover or that enterprise software tracking tools can help monitor.

But there remains lots of industries where more complex applications deliver a disproportionate amount of business value. In those cases, a detailed analysis of the application environment and business requirements is crucial.

Enterprise architects take on an ever more important role in this new information technology ecosystem. They are the ones with an understanding of the backend architecture of your systems and how systems are integrated to fulfill business needs.

And since you’re maintaining a good list of business requirements, enterprise architects will be able to translate those needs into a strategic roadmap that will help govern future implementations. For this reason, they’re instrumental as early implementers for startup pilots.

Enterprise architects ask questions like “How does the application’s backend architecture compare to existing systems?” and “Does this align with our data governance?”

They can also help answer questions like “What are the security risks of this application?” and “What considerations are there in licensing?”

Data warehousing needs will be addressed by the enterprise architect. By working in tandem with product owners, they can make sure that data is maintained in a consistent manner — a necessary step for any mature data strategy.

Since the enterprise architect will be looking for alignment with existing architecture, they’ll be able to help scope and implement any data handling required to ensure that systems can communicate properly and that the business is leveraging all opportunities.

Ultimately, the enterprise architect and product owner will save direct costs in the long-term by making smart decisions about application licensing. Items like seat-based considerations, number of API calls, whether to build a new virtual machine, or planning the cost of moving data are all things that can be addressed by this team.

Investing in a systematic process that can plan and maintain your data systems will ensure that there are no missed opportunities and that pitfalls are avoided. The best way to start that process is to scale and empower the product owners and enterprise architects who will help lead your digital efforts into the future.

Nate Fuller is Managing Director of Placer Construction Solutions, advising leadership teams to transform their organizations in ways that improve performance and agility at the field level.

He provides construction companies with a field assessment that delivers transformative information about their field operations and is proven to accelerate innovation & technology adoption for Top ENR contractors.

Bruce Jacobson is Senior Managing Partner at Butterfly Technologies, providing services around enterprise architecture and infrastructure demands. Learn more about Butterfly Technologies.

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Managing Director at Placer Construction Solutions. Previously helped create Technology & Innovation programs for ENR Top 25 companies.

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Nate Fuller

Nate Fuller

Managing Director at Placer Construction Solutions. Previously helped create Technology & Innovation programs for ENR Top 25 companies.

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