Dell Enterprise Architecture Practice

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Enterprise architecture (EA) refers to a comprehensive, conceptual, operational blueprint or framework that outlines an organization’s functional processes and structures. It aims at determining ways in which an organization can achieve its present and future goals effectively. EA is designed to aid high-level managers to meet a change in organizations and businesses (TechWatch 2009). Organizations currently require a sound enterprise architecture in order to successfully carry out enterprise design, planning, analysis as well as effective strategy implementation, formulation, and execution.

Michael Platt Provides an understanding of four points of view for enterprise architecture; these views are the business, application, information and technology perspectives (Platt, & Huettel, 2008). The organization’s interaction processes and applied standards are defined by an application perspective. Information perspective identifies and categorizes raw data such as images, databases, presentation, spreadsheets and document files that are necessary for the efficient operation of a business. A business’s networking solutions; programming, operating systems, and hardware are defined by the EA technology perspective. For strategic planning in technology and business in general, Enterprise architecture is recommended.

The advantages of a business or organization having an Enterprise Architecture practice includes improved or sound decision making, high adaptability to changes in market conditions or demands and eradication of redundant and inefficient processes (Chorafas, 2016). Other benefits are the optimization of the business's assets utilization, a decrease in the rate of employee turnover, waste elimination as well as risk reduction and exposure (Chorafas, 2016). The advantages, however, are accompanied by a cost. For instance, EA requires a substantial investment in skill development and time. Most organizations are discouraged by the considerable task involved. Also, those who embrace it sometimes, due to inefficiency in its implementation do not achieve the expected benefits. This paper aim at the provision of an analysis Enterprise architecture practice implementation, benefits, success and failures by the Dell Company.

Reasons for Enterprise Architecture Practice Creation in The Company

The Dell Company is one of the largest personal computer manufacturers in the world. The company has developed into a multinational infrastructure and hardware provider as well as a distributor of IT solutions and services. The rapid expansion contributed to specific regional extensions from one country to another. Dell company developed manufacturing facilities, systems for order management and various operating systems that are unique across the worldwide.

Regional expansion of Dell necessitated for enterprise architecture practice creation. The company required an EA for purposes of managing its large customer volume all over the world and its large number of employees. The company ships over 10,000 systems daily to its customers located in 180 countries and employ 100,000 people all over the world. Oracle gives executive direction for this journey of transformation, working with Gass closely together with its enterprise architects for the establishment of views on systems, technologies, and requisites that are long-term.

To solve problems arising from diversification the company required an Enterprise Architecture. Dell wanted to transform towards software services and solutions company from a provider of hardware infrastructure. The company, which initially started as a local PC vendor, was rapidly moving to embrace other regions and sets of products (Chorafas, 2016). Dell also made acquisitions of many big companies in 2010, Perot systems included, and three additional companies in 2011 (Chorafas, 2016). To ensure adequate growth and diversification the company required an executive technology base. The IT system was very crucial especially when Dell needed an implementation of a universal electronic payment system for all the company’s off-line and online sales of assets globally. At this time, the company required to embrace standardization, globalization, and consolidation to move forward. Disparities in the company’s information systems were preventing its transformation potential.

To attain its cooperate goals and objectives, Dell required a rationalized IT infrastructure. The process of transformation included aggregating multi-national structures to boost efficiency, implement common standards and reduce costs. Rationalization in business is crucial as they identify the standards to adhere to during the process of eliminating complexities accumulated over time as well as the particular technologies to help them succeed (Crane and Matten, 2016).

Rationalization process is different in various companies, but it must begin with discussions on technical issues. The process should also be IT-driven and commence at the business level (Barry et al. 2012). This especially applies to companies that have a global presence with the distributed operation and hence the need for consolidation and standardization of the company's business processes. This consolidation should drive transformation in the IT departments.

The first prerequisite in rationalization is the comprehension of the prevailing conditions of an organization’s business processes and IT portfolio (Trkman 2010). This will help in mapping the organization’s business abilities to its IT capabilities. It is achieved by constructing scoring criteria for analyzing the existing portfolio and eventually deciding on particular standards to move the company forward. Standards are a product of the rationalization process.

The Dell company EA team started with developing their enterprise vision; which essentially is a broad plan to direct individual projects. The guidance plan outlined the enterprise’ structure as regards to strategy, objectives, capabilities, information assets, governance, goals, and its operating model. By correctly applying the laid out plan, the architects of the enterprise are now able to inventory Dell's applications and identify the fundamental technology in use at present. This is then used to map such applications to Dell’s business capabilities for identification of redundancies and omissions. This process of comparing the inventory to the exercise of mapping has exposed duplicate and overlapping applications that require consolidation (Chorafas, 2016).

The Dell EA Organization.

The Dell EA team members comprised of information architects, business architects, infrastructure specialists, and application architects (Chorafas, 2016). The team has finalized the process of rationalization, and is now embarking on the new task of transformation of the business process. This involves technical as well as cultural changes. Through its newly founded Center of Excellence (COE), that studies Dell's essential business processes, the organization structure of the company focused on five vital process areas whose purpose was to boost the value chain for customers. These include;






The “process areas” are strengthened by the “corporate process areas” that support the practices which maintain the client. The owners of particular processes areas are aligned with IT processes to institute the future structures that will enable efficient running of these areas on capability needs and process. Initially, Dell was only concerned with the physical structures that run its company, but business architecture puts into perspective the capabilities across domains and the logical processes (Brewer et al. 2008). The company is working on the latter, and it is a massive change. For instance, regardless of whether one is delivering warranty parts to a repairs depot, or referring a mechanic on a check, the logistics domain is similar. Dell's focus currently is the designing of general capabilities in logistics that can be utilized by all process. This is different from other large companies' conservative approach where information systems and business processes devolve from recommendations and the specific needs of the project.

Typically, once the company has defined a predetermined direction or identified a market, the IT division will partner with other business units to develop the required IT solutions for support of the initiative. The IT division will then generate the related data, applications as well as technology framework, and the procedure is repeated every single time more strategic initiatives are defined (Van Den Hooff and De Winter, 2011). This eventually leads to the implementation of disconnected and separate systems of IT that lack the crucial overarching plan. In the process, the IT division becomes not a constructive part of the company but rather a bottleneck that is characterized by a conservative approach to all new initiatives.

Dell’s EA Accomplishments

The architecture guided approach has helped Dell to do away with this tendency. For instance, Dell identified well-intentioned but silo-ed plans in the delivery of tools as well as in the development areas. Different product teams such as the server, the desktop, the notebook among other groups were involved in taking diagnostic information to be used in the evaluation. From the customer perspective, the consistency of delivery of these capabilities is vital. Hence the company focused on its support for tools across the product line as well as the use of standard design/develop and support procedures. The company through effective EA implementation was able to achieve growth and diversification. Organizational growth and diversification require necessary adjustment for success in its operations. Customer volume, employees as well as operational costs of the business increase at this phase of the business. To manage these key factors attached to growth an organization requires sound decisions in its EA implementation.

A Foundation for The Implementation of The EA.

Establishing a business EA involves incorporating the diverse perspectives of the enterprise including the business capabilities, the business strategy, governance, knowledge, and business processes (Boucharas et al. 2010). This information is essential for most EA projects for the following reasons:

Identification of business and IT key players to sponsor and take part in the EA transformation and review process.

Prioritization of the specific areas upon which to focus the rationalization efforts.

Take into account the business process and business capabilities insight.

Elimination of applications portfolio’s gaps and redundancies.

Alignment of goals and business strategies with IT initiatives.

Dell's Assessment of Maturity

Dell has developed a systematic procedure to arrive at these objectives. A review of the critical capabilities is carried out yearly by the strategic planning division in conjunction with the business architecture group. The group also finalizes a strategic plan. This usually focuses on the future for three years or five years. The team together with Gass upholds the extensive range of company's capabilities that show specific particular business domains referred to as the Process chevrons. The map gives a rational model of ways of running the company.

The business architecture group searches for the presence of capability gaps and then cooperates with infrastructure group, information architecture group together with solution architecture group to ensure that the holes are filled. The company's architecture group or team keeps a reference for its domains for three years that they update every quarter year. The reference organizational structural design is made of patterns, guidelines, and templates that guarantee consistency through various project functions and domains (Zachman 1997). The company has built a document for program architecture for its top twenty-five programs in business. The report provides an outline of the present state along with various phases of transition needed to ensure fulfillment of each program’s reference architecture.

Dell gives priority to its investments on IT through bringing them into line effectively with reference architecture as well as identification of aptitudes with the most significant investment return. The team of EA then assesses periodically the extent to which every project has attained transition along the away while referring to the three years reference architecture. According to the company and its managers together with owners of business processes, it is clear that they do not possess an organization or its requirements. They instead own an area of capability that is associated with certain assets. The assets include production application, business process, and business architecture. Process owners always remain to manage asset base and capabilities regardless of the existence of programs and organizations. Creation of a successful organization IT alignment shows maturity assessment by the company.

Dell assesses its maturity through the transparency of full cost for its IT services currently. Initially, it was difficult for the company to comprehend reasons items costing like they did and the IT value was questioned. There was a lot of precision reasons and item cost (Lal 2009). The company's decision to form segment s of four big business units with VPs leading every division and senior executive’s transparency full cost for IT Services was necessitated. The executives are now able to identify the specific cost-drivers which influence their decisions. Every big enterprise has a finance manager or controller who ensures the realization of business results (Kinney & Raiborn2008). A global team of auditors assesses every transformational program to ascertain any potential risk areas at periodic indicators. As the company saves on dollars used in the running, the organization it can reinvest in the transformation of the business.

Lessons Learned

A majority of enterprise architecture practice frameworks and methods presently rely mainly on the division of enterprise or its components to solve its complexity and organize the business work effort. The EA framework should focus significantly on the significant components integrated view and means of aligning that with the business and customer needs. What is required is a shared view of the primary resources of any business's technology, process, and people. The view should model ways of integration to provide the chief drivers behind enterprise success. Making use of different combinations of techniques that are well tested gives a mechanism for attaining an agile, integrated and aligned enterprise (Almus & Nerlinger 1999)

Enterprise architecture should be organized by supporting cross-cutting process and value chain. The primary Federal Agency was the first to implement this approach (Normann & Ramirez 1998). Application of the value chain examination and dividing the EA by process instead of function led to significant developments to the order-payment process of the agency. Dell Company also applied this approach in its EA implementation, during its growth and diversification and the CEO reports tremendously good results.

Enterprise Architectures that are business process centered are the main in attaining business alignment and transformation (Keen & Qureshi 2006). To identify significant opportunities for the development of a business or organization, business enterprise architecture transformation and adjustment should be centered on the decomposition of the business process and not that of its function. From the example of Dell, company its enterprise architecture involved incorporation of functions and enablement of technology into the models of the business process.

Success in organizations and businesses requires the development of an enterprise architecture that is based on performance. A performance centered EA refers to one in which quantifiable target and baseline are identified for every key business areas and their supporting infrastructure. The performance targets or goals are then applied in any program determinations that are designed to back up the attainment of the objectives of the business (Noe et al. 2006). Dell Company attests that focusing business parts on processes verses purposes gives better results. The result of a process can be measured and tied to the goals of enterprise performance.

Technology enablers and business processes are similar items. In the present environment, technology is an integral part of modeling the business process, and it is almost futile not to integrate the two. From the Dell Company enterprise, architecture implementation, for business for business to succeed it is essential to apply a technological approach that is neutral.

The Enterprise Architecture should resonate to the enterprise circumstances and enterprise specific. EA that effectively aligns with the organization’s needs should focus on comprehensively understanding the organization's particular opportunities, weaknesses, and strengths (He & Qingzhu) 2009). This necessitates for some current level examination of the business to identify its performance baseline and gaps as well as opportunities for improvement.

Proper implementation and selection of enterprise architecture practices are very crucial for the success of the business in achieving its goals and objectives. Most organizations do not achieve the desired EA outcomes because of lack of integration of IT in the EA Practice methods and lack of an experienced team of personnel for execution of the task.

Plans for the future

Technological advancement will have a significant effect in influencing the new consumers in the year 2020. The company recognizes this and has made plans for that which might be going private. Dell is already serving top IT markets emerging including Mexico, Turkey, China, India, South Africa, and Brazil. It has also expanded into other emerging markets like Libya, Ethiopia, Namibia, Algeria, Iraq, and Uganda. Within both developed and emerging markets, there is a need for security that is advanced. The company is taking care of these needs using EA tools that aid companies predict as well as proactively safeguard against threats, and ensuring quick recovery from security gaps (Pulkkinen & Luostarinen, 2007)

The company has introduced new interaction touch points to consumers to remain ahead of its consumer expectations. It has also made transformations on its support delivery. Dell wants to recognize issues before consumers identify the existence of a problem. In 2013, the company addressed over 5000 consumers worldwide solving their problems with its products before they would need to contact the company. The brand plans are to find ways of efficiently and effectively catering to consumer’s unique requirements (Nelson, 2007)


At-large majority organizations, Enterprise Architecture, involves the creation of detailed blueprints and maps to define technology assets, data, and systems in their current as well as desired prospect states. Dell demonstrates that EA encompasses more than the habitual planning activities. Its basis is founded on an organization vision that originates from a comprehensive grasp of the operations of the firm (Ross et al.2006). The concept defines vital capabilities and governs particular IT projects for the realization of those capabilities and spreading them throughout the organization in a way that is cost effective and consistent. Enterprise architecture constitutes the logical organization of IT infrastructure and business processes, offering a lasting assessment of the firm's technologies, systems, and procedures. Therefore, focusing on EA, specific projects are carried to increase the general purpose capabilities and not just fulfilling instantaneous needs.

Dell's transformation process governed by its EA group resonates with the Oracle recommended approach to several big corporations. Oracle EA team gives an in-depth comprehension of ways technology and Oracle's product portfolio affect enterprises varied business process, governance, and alignment. Oracle's recognized principles provide roadmaps, and architecture for reference, that is taken from active engagements, enable companies to enforce excellent practices, adherence to the architecture principles in the process of moving from one project to another and taking into consideration overall requirements of the enterprise always. The role of EA is to help the organization to become innovative and quickly respond to the changing consumer behavior (Solomon et al. 2014). It holds the organization's long-term vision and is responsible for going with the business to the desired destination regarding its target. They back up organizations to attain their goals and objectives by effectively evolving in all domains, data, technology, business, and application. There are no obstacles or constraints when navigating to the cloud. The Enterprise architecture role is crucial in effective cloud adoption.


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January 19, 2024




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