More Book Reviews

Overall: I recommend the following three books.

In Advances in Government Enterprise Architecture, my good friend Pallab Saha over in Singapore has made a seminal compilation of 18 chapters on government enterprise architecture written by practitioners and practicing academics from Australia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, The Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, United Kingdom, and United States of America. Several of the contributing authors also have chapters in the Coherency Management book that Pallab and I, together with Gary Doucet and Scott Bernard, are releasing very soon.

If I should emphasise one chapter from the book, it has to be Pallab Saha’s own chapter about Singapore’s e-government initiative and the Methodology for AGency ENTerprise Architecture (MAGENTA), “a rigorous, disciplined and structured methodology for development of agency enterprise architectures that enables agencies to align to and fully support the government’s transformation objectives and outcomes”. Very interesting read.

With its 502 pages, Advances provides a very solid view on governmental EA. It is a perfect book for students and researchers of e-government and governmental EA, alas its cost ($195 at Amazon) means that the students have to wait for their libraries to get the book. This is without doubt the reference book for government EA.

In Enterprise Governance and Enterprise Engineering, Dr. Ir. Jan A.P. Hoogervorst from Sogeti in the Netherlands presents a competence-based perspective on governance, where “employees are viewed as the crucial core for effectively addressing the complex, dynamic and uncertain enterprise reality, as well as for successfully defining and operationalizing strategic choices”. Hoogervorst sees enterprise engineering as “the formal conceptual framework and methodology for arranging a unified and integrated enterprise design, which is a necessary condition for enterprise success”.

Hoogervorst defines Enterprise architecture as “a coherent and consistent set of principles and standards that guides enterprise design,” and he argues that EA is a communicative bridge between the functional and constructional perspectives, that is between a functional, requirements-oriented, black-box system perspective and a constructional, realization-oriented, white-box perspective. I like Hoogervorst’s approach to EA. It’s neither IT-centric nor business-centric; if anything, it’s enterprise-centric.

The last chapter is about a fictitios case, an energy company. While this certainly helps in understanding enterprise governance and enterprise design in practice, it is in my opinion still leaving the reader with unanswered questions about enterprise engineering. As if Hoogervorst or Springer ‘forgot’ some additional chapters of the book. Or maybe it’s just a ‘cliffhanger’ to forthcoming books? Hoogervorst’s book is the second to be published in Springer’s Enterprise Engineering Series (I reviewed the first book in the series back in December). This series is aimed at academic students and advanced professionals. I’ll certainly recommend Hoogervorst’s book to my students.

The third book I’ll talk about here has been on my book shelf for a while, as it was published in November 2007, and I bought it right away, but must admit that it didn’t really catch me on the first reading back then. Recently, I was prompted to pick it up again, and am actually happy I did.

In Lost in Translation (book’s site), Nigel Green and Carl Bate from CapGemini describe a simplified ‘language’ for preventing loss in translation from business needs to IT solutions. This language is called ‘VPEC-T after the five dimensions it focuses on: Values, Policies, Events, Content and Trust. VPEC-T is presented as a common language that is natural for both business and IT, and is “straightforward enough to use, yet sophisticated enough to work in today’s connected world.”

Subtitled “A handbook for information systems in the 21st century”, the authors do not hide their interests: They provide a tool (‘language’) for how IT-people can become better at capturing what the business wants from IT. In this sense, it’s classic Information Systems thinking (chapter 2), and VPEC-T does indeed come across as, yes, yet another IS-approach. But also, as one that may well take some IS-territory, perhaps especially from IS-practitioners. I will certainly follow VPEC-T. I follow @taoofit on Twitter. I’ve also joined the VPEC-T Google Group. Also, google the acronym and you’ll find a few good things by adopters of it, for example the VPEC-T mindmap which seems quite useful.

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