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What's the best way to assure change management with SOA?

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Karrie Holley and Dr. Ali Arsanjani, both IBMers, recently came out with the book, 100 SOA Questions Asked and Answered.  In it they ask the role of change management, and this, from Joe McKendrick's blog at ZDNet, is what they say: "Change management involves communication, organizational design and change, as well as SOA governance so that executives and managers are aware of what they committed to in SOA governance."

As change is one of the most difficult things for a company to address, how do you assure change management with SOA?

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  • Change management, as it used to be called, or governance which is the new buzzword is a key component of any SOA.

    If we consider that one of the main benefits of SOA is reuse, this can sometimes only happen when slight modifications are made to a service to allow it to be used for a different purpose. The change will normally not impact on the previous use but to ensure reuse, the change must be made.

    It is key that an existing, running service does not break so there must be different versions of a service during the transition phase, however, once working, it is essential that the existing users of the old service are upgraded. As such the usage of your services is key to this change management.

    SOA Governance with the correct tools can be extremely helpful in upgrading services ensuring continued reused and depracation of older copies of the service. There are two documents here http://www.soagateway.com/html/industry_papers.html#govlifecycle which discuss how both life cycle and usage governance of your services can help your organization.

  • Actually, I view "change management" more as a business requirement, not an IT / SOA one. What changes in your business most? Master data? See MDM. Decisions? See BRMS or Decision Management. In theory I should add BPM to this list, but most BPM is concerned with business modelling, not managing change to business models...

    Cheers

  • To me change management also starts with business requirements.

    If business managers own and participate in the modelling of services and service capabilities we have come a long way.

    Chances are the guesses (that are incorporated into the service design) that the business managers make on future business requirements is better than the guesses that the IT department makes (the IT department should of course contribute to these guesses). Should these guesses fail completely then the business side should have a firm understanding for why these changes take time...

    But, as always the devil is in the details. Meaning that although the high level design is good, some annoying details may stop you anyhow.

  • Is this a trick question? SOA is the assurance. SOA is the change management solution. I feel my faith being threatened and must rebalance. What is my mantra? Oh yes, "SOA eats change...SOA eats change...SOA eats change..."

    Yes, change is one of the most difficult things for a company to address. For this there is SOA. Ohhmmm...

    OK, OK. I realize the question may have been referring to effective management of changing SOA assets. But that's incidental. Manage them the same way other IT assets are managed and you're still ahead. Put your energy into the architecture and reuse whatever governance model is already in place. (Just make sure there is a governance model.

  • Change management is really tricky, as long as I have experienced.
    Most LOB people are very busy, especially experts.
    Until the Day One, they are often not serious enough about changes. Then real last minute change management starts.
    Hence SOA's loose integration and agility help it, I believe.

  • This one's easy. Continuous Validation. Without real continuous validation that happens on any change event, you cannot assure that there are no unintended consequences of that change. Don't get me wrong, we love SOA Governance if the Policy within it can be realistically enforced - but without putting Validation in place, that policy is like putting a speed limit sign on the highway, with no radar guns or patrolmen - and inevitably it will get ignored over time.

    Validation is different in Testing as it is not a "point in time" activity that happens as part of a software development lifecycle. Especially in SOA, you have multiple components, each possibly owned by different teams and changing on their own lifecycles, coming together in production to support a given business process. I need to know that if I check in a new version of a service, it won't cause a failure downstream, or impact the service level of another customer of the application. Continuous validation is how that happens.

    I recorded a couple "chalk talk" videos on this topic a while ago that describe what I mean by Validation: http://blog.itko.com/2010/02/chalk-talks-validation-101-102.html if anyone's interested.

  • Different answers in the SOA Forum refered to two different perspectives:
    The first is about assuring that SOA is implemented correctly. No doubt, SOA Governance is a key for proper SOA implementation. SOA Governance addresses Service Development and Service Deployment, and more implicit but important aspect: Governing the Architecture.

    The second perspective is the role of SOA as an enabler of easy changes to Business. It is summarize by the word Agility. No doubt that a major Value proposition of SOA is ease of change. However, it should be remebered that too much of a good thing could be bad. For more details read: The Dark Side of Agility http://avirosenthal.blogspot.com/2011/01/dark-side-of-agility.html.

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    how do you assure change management with SOA?"

    1. reaching the state for business and IT relationships, it represents a convergence of business and IT, a partnership.
    The relationships of this state are not born without hard labor, but the result is a highly collaborative environment built on trust.
    2. Organizational structures are continually optimized to create operational excellency that allows organizations to be more agile.
    4. Governance is active, effective, and tweaked continuously using measurements and feedback loops.
    Continuous improvement to measure, tweak, and monitor is a way of life.
    5. Reaching this state of relationship between business and IT is a goal of SOA adoption that occurs incrementally and takes too much time (years)

    There are several joint business/IT processes change as a result of SOA including: governance, portfolio management, strategic planning, managing investments, requirements gathering, and project prioritization.

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