While many large organisations have teams for technology architecture, Cyma understands that many New Zealand SMEs (small to medium enterprises), cannot afford such teams, but that doesn't mean technology architecture is something that should be overlooked. This blog will provide insights into how Cyma knows that technology architecture is just as important for SMEs and explain why it is not just for larger organisations.
First of all some well published facts on New Zealand’s SMEs*, which form the backbone of our economy: (See source at end of blog)
There are currently 460,000 SMEs in the country, employing over 900,000 workers. That makes up 30% of the workforce as a whole.
In total, 97% of enterprises in New Zealand today are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees each.
SMEs contribute an impressive 28% to New Zealand’s GDP.and provide opportunities for entrepreneurship, productivity, employment and sources of innovation
From the statistics above it is clear that SMEs play a crucial role in the success of our country and that they too, like most larger enterprises, have to make important and smarter technology decisions to successfully operate their businesses.
From working closely with SMEs, the following 4 phrases and the underlying challenges faced by them, are commonly observed:
“I don’t have the time to do this”
Typically SMEs are very focused on keeping their business operating and tend to lack the time, money, energy & resources to address challenges of the business or improving their systems and processes
“We’ll make the decisions as we go”
The overview of the company and its use of technology for the business tends to stay unspoken as no one has the time to document the business & technology to facilitate planned decision making within the organisation
“We don’t know how to do it”
SMEs find it difficult to finding suitable technology solutions for their processes
“It’s too difficult”
Transforming decisions towards real company changes is difficult to achieve
The above challenges are also relevant to large enterprises, who are able to address these by the use of Enterprise Architecture, investing in human and financial resources, which is an option that is not normally available or affordable to SMEs.
So Why do SMEs need Technology Architecture?
To address the common challenges above, SMEs need to align their business objectives with technology, just like the larger enterprises. Ideally, in its simplest form, to facilitate technology decision making, a SME needs to pragmatically articulate the following, within its limited budgets and resources:
The business plan, detailing what is needed to be achieved for the business
Prioritise plan of what to work on and when
Various technology visuals of current state & future state, (infrastructure, information, etc.)
The above artefacts, not only provide guidance on technology decision making, but also highlight the risks and issues of the business via the current state assessments. Without these assessments, SMEs may miss opportunities to address the following for their business:
Up to date information for technology decision making
Cyber security threats to address
Visibility of technology alignment with business plans
End of life of technologies and infrastructure
Financial forecasting & budgeting planning for technology implementation
How do SMEs do Technology Architecture?
Cyma Roadmapping is a proven approach to give SMEs the ongoing capability of making the right IT decisions to match their business needs, in a timely manner. with clarity over costs and risks, for the best business outcomes.
At Cyma, the building of roadmaps follows a capability based planning approach, built around the idea that all organisations achieve their purpose by operating a set of business capabilities.
A business capability is therefore a description of what a SME needs to have in place and is generally considered to be a placeholder for a grouping of:
The intent is that a business capability is stable over time because it describes what rather than how. The elements described above that are grouped within a business capability (People/Process/Technology/Information) all change over time because they represent how a SME goes about delivering its vision & strategy. Because business capabilities are stable, they make an ideal tool for planning - both for technology and other more general business planning activities.
What Does a Business Capability Model Look Like?
Business capability models are generally represented something like the picture
Each box represents a business capability and each box has a description associated with it (that isn’t shown in the diagram but does exist in the model beneath it). In the diagram above the purple boxes are the most general capabilities which are then broken into a more detailed level in the orange boxes with the oranges boxes broken into another level of detail in the gray boxes.
How is the Model Used?
Once we have the model in place we can perform assessments against it to create a view of where investment should take place. In fact in the diagram above, the capabilities that have bold, italic names have been assessed as areas of investment in that example. Often the boxes will be made different colours to make them stand out even further.
When performing assessments we are generally looking for gaps between what the SME would like the capability to be versus how it currently is. The “to be” view is generally informed by the business plan that has been established for the SME. An example table is below:
Ultimately the intention is to use this information to establish a roadmap that we generally visualise as per the example below. In this example roadmap initiatives are informed by the gaps in capability described above, with the indicative size of an initiative being represented by the size of the circle shown:
Normally to achieve a roadmap, it is a matter of taking a SME through a process and making the business plans accountable, so changes can be made to the business.
So, is Size Important?
No. Whatever the size of an organisation, it ultimately has to make information technology decisions to successfully operate the business, by aligning business objectives with technology.
Capability based planning approach to building roadmaps gives the ongoing capability of making the right IT decisions to match their business needs. There are also many other complementary activities that can support SMEs and their technology architecture, a few of these are listed below and can easily be provided by Cyma:
Capability to Application Mapping
*Source for SME Statistics From MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment)
*Link to statistics: SME Stats that this blog mentioned