Making Alfabet Your Own - part 9

Configuring for Specific Use Cases

In this series, we’ve looked at how to configure Alfabet for best fit and best practices in business and IT transformation. Each chapter has focused on configuring Alfabet for particular functionality, such as workflows, reporting or data capture. This chapter looks at configuring for specific use cases or objectives. Organizations will usually follow several objectives when configuring the product. This chapter discusses the seven most common objectives and outlines what configuration features support each objective.

Objective 1: Enhanced user experience

In the interest of appealing to each and every user in the broad range of stakeholders necessary for effective business and IT transformation, configuring Alfabet for optimal user experience is extremely important. In setting up Alfabet, organizations will want to pull out all the stops to support the user with:

Familiarity - by using standard interface captions in the meta-model and the local language. Alfabet’s automated data translation capability uses machine translation engines to provide users an interface in their language at minimal cost and effort. End users can capture and maintain IT portfolio information in their preferred language to raise productivity and ensure high data quality in multi-language organizations. Automatic translation of user instructions and assistance into the locally preferred language further increases end user effectiveness.

Tailoring interactions - by using user profiles, navigation pages, workflows, wizards, cockpits, view schemes, search filters and surveys to provide guidance and limit distractions in performing responsibilities. Create data capture templates that translate into Excel® spreadsheets that guide the user with type of input, picklists and helpful comments on what kind of input is expected.

Context - by providing relevant reports and opportunities to collaborate. Use pop-up windows with informative content of any type to provide context and guidance for the occasional user for the task at hand. Make access to added information available with fly-in views and slide-in tool bars.

Objective 2: Enterprise planning governance

An organization will define what results it wants to achieve in its planning and governance framework, including the people, processes and information necessary to ensure those results. With governance as the underlying principle and people, processes and information its core planning elements, Alfabet provides many configuration possibilities to be able to adapt the product to an organization’s own governance rules and principles. Alfabet configuration features enable you to:

  • Define and sustain the way the organization wants to do its planning by fine-tuning the delivered meta-model with stereotypes and properties
  • Provide guardrails as to what a user can see and do in Alfabet using user profiles, user rights and data capture features
  • Keep processes moving, install the right stage gates and involve the right people at the right time using workflows, monitors and notifications

Objective 3: Data quality and integrity

The key to good decision-making in business and IT transformation is complete, reliable and current information. Many of the configuration features in Alfabet target this goal to ensure information is:

  • Timely by using monitors and workflows to prompt users to fulfill their obligations within defined time schedules
  • Correct by using user profiles, validation rules and user rights to limit data capture to authorized and knowledgeable users as well as data quality monitors
  • Complete by invoking surveys to supplement information not already in Alfabet and using data capture features that encourage users to maintain their part of the information puzzle

Take advantage of the many integrations Alfabet offers with third-party systems to retrieve information from its “golden” source. There are also many different integration methods Alfabet provides: ETL- as well as REST- and SOAP-based, to ensure quality and integrity.

Objective 4: Security

The ultimate goal of business and IT transformation is to ensure business strategy is effectively enabled. In highly competitive markets, enterprise planning information is very sensitive and needs to be adequately protected. With Alfabet, you can:

  • Control access to information even in highly distributed organizations by configuring the appropriate user rights and profiles and setting up an effectively federated structure
  • Consider information presentation in every form and who is viewing it
  • Configure appropriately with view schemes, reports, and search methods in accordance with the needs of the specific user constituencies
  • Avoid manipulated data with well-defined information capture controls
  • Employ threat management to identify, plan for and reduce risk to the enterprise IT environment - threats can be systematically captured, categorized and related to the architecture, thus increasing the ability to discover and mitigate vulnerabilities

Objective 5: Auditability

The growing burden of regulatory compliance and the demand for better risk management make auditors a prime stakeholder for information regarding enterprise planning and management. The Alfabet repository is a gold mine of information for the auditor’s task. Configuration helps the auditor find out answers quickly. You can:

  • Demonstrate relationships between pieces of information by using the many report types and configuration possibilities
  • Augment existing information in Alfabet with other needed information quickly using surveys
  • Streamline the auditing process by building appropriate workflows to allow the auditor to get confirmation on certain information easier

Objective 6: Using portfolio analytics

The value of the information in the Alfabet repository is in the quality of the decisions it enables. To get to the right answers, you need to ask the right questions. This is where configuration comes in with various ways to do “data mining.”

With Alfabet, you can leverage a wide variety of templates and configuration assistants to design reports that display datasets, matrices, lifecycle charts, bar charts, pie charts, geo-maps, treemaps and more. These can be filled with any combination of information needed to provide answers to the questions at hand. Interactive filter criteria also allow the user to change the view to fit his/her precise information needs. You also can:

  • Empower end users with the ability to create ad-hoc, information-rich data visualizations to share with the user community
  • Designate information sources to act as data providers and let end users self-determine needed content and form
  • Explore and understand which aspects of the IT portfolio may need your attention using modern artificial intelligence technology for discovery and analysis

Objective 7: Keeping the enterprise agile

Agility is core to digital business success and approaches such as Scrum, Kanban and DevOps have revolutionized software development to enable IT to deliver products in ever shorter release cycles. However, this agility needs to be framed in the overall direction, plans and strategy of the organization. Alfabet brings these two perspectives together by including significant capabilities for the agile enterprise: bimodal portfolio analysis, operational project management, API planning and management, cloud planning and management, integration with Jira® and feature backlog management and Kanban boarding. Configuration plays a big role in all of these capabilities to ensure they fit to the company’s strategic intent, policies and execution goals.

Take the next step

This concludes our series on “Making Alfabet Your Own: Configuring Alfabet for Best Fit and Best Practices in IT Transformation” In summary, configuration contributes to efficiency of the product, the effectiveness of the software implementation, the productivity of those working with the product, the value the enterprise gets out of the product and, ultimately, the success of the IT transformation program.

While Alfabet has a rich meta-model, a wealth of standard reports, standardized workflows, and out-of-the-box templates and roles, Software AG recognizes the importance of being able to fit the product to the company’s needs. Alfabet Enterprise is a solution that increases its value to customers with configuration. Use its “Expand” configuration possibilities to the fullest, ask for guidance from our seasoned consultants, and enjoy the confidence you will feel driving your company’s enterprise transformation efforts forward.