Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Case study

Our final exam was to take a case study and see how the application of enterprise architecture could have helped prevent the mistakes shown. I chose to look into Cigna.

Cigna’s Failures

The CIO article “Cigna’s Self-Inflicted Wounds” shows the desperate need companies have for Enterprise Architecture. Clearly a major thing Cigna missed was getting the business involved in the IT process. IT governance is needed to ensure that ITs focus is on serving the business and not being self serving. Enterprise architecture brings together technology architecture with business processes which is the key. All of the technology architecture in the world will not do anything for a business until business and IT sits down and develops business strategy that takes into account IT. Good enterprise architects have a solid technical background and outstanding business skills. Enterprise architects are the bridge between the business and IT; they need to be able to hold the respect of both. What Cigna failed to do was get business people involved with the IT decision making process. I think brining in an outside company, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, to manage the change management and business processes involved in the system upgrade was a big mistake. The greatest asset Cigna had was their own employees who worked with the old system. IT developed this new system with seemingly no input from employees. There seemed to be no usability testing or acceptance testing, the only evidence of testing was whether or not data ported into the new system.

Had Cigna taken the time to analyze itself, especially its structure, it could have saved so much during this disaster. Clearly, Cigna’s three divisions, health care, retirement planning and employee benefits are pretty separate industries. What Cigna should have focused on is the shared data amongst its systems. While each division may have had their own separate processes, the customer data they stored should have been standardized between systems. There is no point in trying to standardize dissimilar processes; enterprise architecture needs to focus on the commonalities between systems.

In Cigna’s case, Service Oriented Architecture might have saved them from their disaster. Instead of building all of these hard coded wrappers for the new systems they could have spent the time developing services that would work with new and existing systems. Once the hard work of developing the services was done any new applications needed would be able to pull from a service library. Instead of writing one giant application they could have broken it down into more manageable and deployable stages. Give the customers a little piece of the new system at a time. One of the big failures of Cigna’s was firing tons of their customer service reps, throwing this new system at the few remaining employees and all the new recruits. A slower deployment might have helped the culture shock. Enterprise architecture would have allowed Cigna to find those common thread between separate business units and leverage existing services to more efficiently manage the entire project.

The biggest mistake of all however was the failure to spend the time doing the current state analysis. There is almost no way you can succeed with a massive project without knowing what systems are being used where by who and how they are being used. You need a high level view such as the business integration model to tie together all of the systems, processes and data being used. Once the current view has been mapped out the process of moving into the future state view can take into account all of the old system information. It is critical that you have the current state before you try and develop the future state. Enterprise architecture would have given Cigna a solid foundation on which to start developing the new systems. When Andrea Anania became the CIO of the umbrella Cigna Corp. she started with the restructuring and new system development project in 1999. The project was not ready for the January 2002 3.5 million customer migration, even in January of 2003 after a years more work the migration of 700,000 customers was a bit shaky. This all goes to show what happens if you do not have your current state view in mind before starting on the future state.

Cigna clearly could have benefited from some Enterprise Architecture through their entire process. Business needs to be involved in IT decisions processes, IT needs to take into account the business structure when planning, having Enterprise Architecture in place makes it possible to have great services, and a high level view is needed in the current state before the future state is planned.

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