Michael D’Onofrio, CEO, Orbus Software
Some government organisations are still heavily dependent on legacy infrastructure, with a number in
the US reported to still be using 30-year old unsupported systems. This isn’t a huge surprise, given that
the adoption of technology within public sector organisations has historically been slow. With some only
coming to the end of shifting paper processes to their digital equivalents, others are far more advanced
in their digital transformation. A number of government organisations are now implementing advanced
initiatives such as Enterprise Architecture.
That said, not all digital changes concern large-scale software projects, but advanced strategies like
Enterprise Architecture are often favoured for their scope to deliver value. Governments are under
increasing pressure to plan and execute projects and changes amid frequent increases or decreases in
funding, as well as various political and legal regulations. Subject to public scrutiny, all changes must be
thoroughly regulated and offer a degree of transparency. Without the right tools in place, this is far
easier said than done.
The drivers for adopting an Enterprise Architecture software are becoming more evident, particularly as
public bodies are facing complicated matters concerning large projects spanning multiple organisations.
In a sector so heavily reliant on legacy technology, what are the key reasons government organisations
are turning to Enterprise Architecture?
Accountability and transparency
Being a publicly accountable body throws up a mass of challenges not typically encountered in private
sector organisations. Operating on principles of transparency, integrity and trust, clarity over every
decision and operational choice must be accessible at any point. That being said, there is strict criteria
around outsourcing public sector technological change, particularly where sensitive data is concerned.
With the pressure to shift away from legacy IT systems, modern Enterprise Architecture tools offer
welcome relief to governments and indeed any other organisation that requires monitored decision
making. Able to help assess and manage current operations across people, processes and IT
infrastructure both new and old, it is a tool that can road map existing and future operations with full
visibility at every touchpoint. This includes the ability to track digital transformation progress, detailing
its current state and the journey toward fulfilling future criteria.
Enterprise Architecture has a proven record in helping staff within complex government organisations to
transcend departmental boundaries to achieve all services, bridge policies, and ensure better outcomes
for all operations. This modernisation also extends to a government’s wider digital transformation
journey, as EA can be used to assess and plan the removal of legacy IT operations, implement new
project journeys, create and track budget assessments, and more.
Where concentrated digital transformation efforts have resulted in an entire patchwork of new and old
systems within government organisations, the planning and roadmap capabilities brought by Enterprise
Architecture can enable a gradual upgrade in existing systems, regardless of IT complexities. Likewise,
this has a huge impact on mitigating the often-significant maintenance and change costs, and the
significant time delays encountered by organisations that find themselves doing too much at once
without a strategic plan.
Overall, the modernisation of existing IT infrastructure via a modern Enterprise Architecture software
tool offers a real opportunity to successfully integrate all data from operational systems, regardless of
department or data type, and provides new processing capabilities including self-service. This comes
alongside the benefits of a holistic overview of all data, operations and decision making, offering new
ways to visualise and represent the relationships between existing and future business processes,
capabilities and other data flows.
Scalability and alignment
Scalability and coping with issues relating to demand – in whatever form – is an increasing concern for
governments. Modern Enterprise Architecture software, however, can offer a simplified structure to help
deal with large operations by modifying each aspect of a project or day to day operations into sizable
elements. As a result, this EA tool can also help to achieve greater alignment between overall
government or departmental goals, and IT implementations or digital transformation plans. This impact
can also be felt by local governments, such as Worcestershire County Council, who have leveraged EA to
enable better collaboration.
Government operations and Enterprise Architecture projects are typically far larger in scale than many in
the private sector, mostly due to the quantity of legacy technologies still present. There may be some
cases where failures of public sector digital transformation are best solved by utilising the private sector,
particularly where a complete technology-led overhaul is required, but this is not always the case.
Governments will still need to find solutions that work from the inside, custom built to their own and
regulatory requirements. This is where developing their own Enterprise Architecture frameworks and
strategy could truthfully bear results.
The digital transformation journey
Gartner makes an interesting point in relation to government structures, noting their tendency to
‘prioritise siloed accountability over enterprise standardisation’, and this couldn’t ring truer. For many, a
reluctance to engage with the modern-day IT frameworks, and unify different departments, goals, and
data sources, is often the most significant part of the battle. However, Enterprise Architecture is now
being realised as one of the only advanced tools that will aid public sector organisations on complex
digital transformation journeys