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Logistics Planning and Execution with Enterprise Federated Architectures

Logistics Planning and Execution with Enterprise Federated Architectures

The Client:

A large U.S. Transportation Service Provider

The Task:

EII assisted this client in aligning their business processes and systems across organizational boundaries to optimize end-to-end order fulfillment. The technique that was used is federated architecture alignment. This project was awarded the Leadership in Enterprise Architecture Award in the 2006 Excellence in Enterprise Architectures Award series.

The Specifics:

EII and the client worked together to develop a reference distribution architecture. A universal platform was developed so all supply chain participants can align their individual architectures under a common reference model. The methodology developed by EII supports two critical types of alignment: Vertical and Horizontal. Vertical alignment provides traceability from senior management objectives and directives down to the implementing organizational components and their associated applications. Horizontal alignment allows the identification of seams or hand-off disconnects between organizations as end-to-end enterprise logistics business processes are executed.

Reference Arch for EA

Leveraging our deep understanding of Enterprise Architectures, EII successfully executed an initial alignment of all individual architectures into the reference distribution architecture. The architecture development included the ability to navigate through the reference architecture into the architectures of other internal organizations. This navigation capability is critical, because it provides a mechanism to understand how suppliers and customers can work together to deliver collaborative capabilities as part of a single end-to-end distribution process.

The architectural products produced as part of the alignment across organizations can be used for detailed analyses involving supply chain processes and the associated enabling information systems and related technologies. These analyses can be sued to support decisions on portfolio management, system functionality, interface requirements, and ultimately define the requirements for service orientation. The logic for the federated approach follows directly from an approach used at Down Jones (See CIO Magazine, 1 March, 2005, http://www.cio.com/archive/030105/blueprint.html). The basic concept is use architects from “different business units, working together to share best practices and coordinated architecture decisions across the company.” The alternative is to force every organization into a centralized and integrated architecture, which requires a large investment while abandoning architecture products that meet the requirements of individual organizations. Given these considerations, our client decided that the federated approach was preferred.

Federated Environment image

The web-based, alignment methodology that EII developed has been widely recognized as one of the first practical applications of a federated architecture approach. The benefits of this approach include:

  • Leveraging existing architecture efforts rather than mandating new ones,
  • Rapid identification the seams or hand-off disconnects between organizations in enterprise wide processes such as order fulfillment,
  • Use of the Supply Chain Operational Reference-model (SCOR) as a common baseline, and
  • An improved analysis framework to easily show links between operational business processes and supporting information systems.

The overall objective of the alignment effort was to enable the understanding and improvement of cross organizational processes, foster supply chain integration, make the most of existing architectural documentation, and allow executives to understand how and if management objectives are being enabled at the implementation level. The alignment effort has now shifted to mapping the entire scope of the client organization architectures to allow detailed architectural analyses and has expanded to include customer organizations.

Finally, this project provides a non-invasive and tool agnostic approach to solution architecture management. That is, the methodology and supporting reference architecture allows organizations to work together without mandating a single architecture or architecture modeling tool. This is a major contribution of this project, since the political aspects of architecture “tool wars” and mandated architectures have caused many projects to fail.

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