We have been observing the division into two, sometimes hostile, camps, i.e. IT and BUSINESS in organizations for a long time.
Both worlds speak a familiar language and feel themselves quite good in their own company. In addition, they sometimes unite against the other side. That is why we can hear the following complaints: “IT does not understand business“, “Business cannot say what they want.”
There has been no language that would allow both parties to communicate for a long time. The methodology was needed to show how IT supports business in implementing key processes. There was the need to show whether IT resources are really needed to support processes or whether they were purchased from convincing supplier.
There’s solutions to the needs identified above. The name for the methodology is OBASHI. It sounds oriental on first hearing but has its roots firmly planted in Europe.
Created in 2001 by Scottish company OBASHI Ltd. The authors, Fergus Cloughley and Paul Wallis, created the method to support the oil industry because it is very important to control the flow of the products in the production process, but is also crucial to control the flow of data. The methodology itself is now applicable in every enterprise where there is flow of data The OBASHI name is an acronym of the following words:
- O – Ownership – the owner of the process,
- B – Business Process – the business process,
- A – Application – the application supporting the business process,
- S – System – the operating system on which the application works,
- H – Hardware – from the hardware on which the operating system was installed,
- I – Infrastracture – from a network infrastructure that allows to transmit the information.
These 6 areas are the basis for creating a B&IT ( Business & IT ) diagram that enables the organization to visualize how elements within these layers are related to each other. This is done by placing the elements: process owner, business process, application, operating system, hardware and network infrastructure from top to bottom. This is shows which elements below are used by the elements above. In this way we can see that, for example, Vice President is responsible for the Marketing process, using applications such as CRM, on the Marketing server, using Switch and Router.
The second diagram called Dataflow Analysis View (DAV for short) allows to visualize, how the data flows through the organization including OBASHI elements. . It is this view which allows us to not only track how data flows through our organization but to also understand how quickly we are able to fulfil the customer’s order using the existing infrastructure.
Defining a B&IT model for an organization can be a large undertaking. The manual suggests that the OBASHI project should consist of the following steps:
- Specifying the scope – the part in which the scope of the project is determined and authorization obtained to move to the next step
- Capturing – involves collecting information about the current model
- Design – in which, based on information, the B&IT and DAV models are created
- Refining – consists in refining the above mentioned models based on more detailed information
- Handover – which aims to transfer created models to operational activities.
To implement the changes in the current model may even necessitate the implementation of the program. For this reason, OBASHI manual shows how to combine the method with other known standards..
What OBASHI gave us
I am responsible every day for an accredited training company (ATO) with products such as Agile PM®, PRINCE2®, Facilitation and OBASHI®. We have been an Accredited Training Organization since 2010 and we need to regularly prove our compliance with requirements We have clearly defined processes presented with one of the business process management tools (BPMN). We were able to identify to determine who plays which role, what processes this role performs, and which “management products” are created. Processes were presented using so-called swim lanes allowing us to understand and control the business dataflow
What constituted some difficulty was making IT related changes. Especially as gradually on this page many new applications appeared (including some installed locally, some on servers, others in the ASP model, and also those that are in the cloud). Some additional questions arose regarding how these applications support business activities, which ones are needed and which work only because someone once started them and forgot to turn them off.
Such a practical example appeared at the time when we needed to replace some of the infrastructure elements, i.e. computers and smartphones . To make the decision, we decided to use the newly known OBASHI model to understand the dataflow between devices
First, we created the B&IT model, which showed us all the layers.
It turned out that smartphones used for: e-mail communication, finding commercial information, and telephone communication, are at the H(ardware) level, and the applications we use come from the A(pplication) level of the model, the S(system) element is also important. It turned out that our smartphones have different operating system. Having one operating system was important from the point of view of business goals such – as optimizing IT infrastructure costs.
We carried out a similar process when it comes to notebooks. Many computers came from one manufacturer, while the other part from another. Understanding service costs (including the time necessary to maintain equipment from 2 different manufacturers) allowed us to buy more computers from the same manufacturer in order to simplify our devices and reduce complexity.
Upon analysing our business processes, we could see that the server (formerly key hardware resource in our company) is no longer a necessity due to our increasing use of cloud based applications. Therefore, the costs associated with its operation can be significantly reduced by turning it off.
We intend to carry out similar optimizations in other layers , ensuring we are always looking from a business need. Similar processes can lead to increased savings, decreased risk, all while using the applications, systems, hardware and network infrastructure in a strategic way, ensuring all our organizational goals have been prioritized.
We recommend the OBASHI model to any organization that uses information technology (i.e. almost every organization) to achieve its business goals, and wants to understand about how data flows through their business.
The extensive list of benefits include:
- mutual understanding business and IT (the same language of communication based on diagrams),
- the ability to optimize the costs of the IT infrastructure,
- clearly defined responsibility to strategically align the business goals of the organization.
© Tomasz Nedzi
About the author
Tomasz Nedzi is a CEO&Lead Trainer at skills® 2004 UG German based Accredited Training Organization.
He has started his career in 1998 with IBM as a Project Manager, Instructional Designer and e-business Consultant. He has founded skills® in 2004 to provide high quality management education.
He holds Approved Trainer credentials for following products: OBASHI®/SAF®/Agile PM®/PRINCE2®/PRINCE2®Agile/MSP®/MoP®/MoR®/P3O®/ Facilitation/AQRO® and teaches on-line courses since 2010.
He has been OBASHI® Lead Trainer at www.skills2004.eu since 2015.