Developing the enterprise architecture for the Namibian government: User research

Section 4 of the EJISDC paper by Irja Shaanika and Tiko Iyamu

The data that were gathered from the four ministries that were used as cases in the study was analysed. The interpretive approach was used in the analysis. This was to gain better understanding of the factors that influence EA so as to appropriately guide the development and implementation in organisations. The analysis was done, following the research questions. This was primarily to ensure that the objective of the study was achieved.

4.1 What are the factors that can impact the development and implementation of EA in the Namibian government ministries environment?

Across the ministries, various factors were identified that impacted the development and implementation of ICT. Some of the factors include communication and collaboration, roles and responsibilities, skills (technical know‐how), and organisational culture. The significance of each factor was dependent on the individual interpretations, as they were both enabling and constraining.

Communication and collaboration within the ministries was viewed to be a critical aspect for ICT success. Communication was carried out according to the organisational structure. Some interviewees revealed that top management discussed issues that were of importance and influenced their performance, but they were not part of such collaborations. As a result, these created a lack of awareness among the employees. One of the IT managers at the Ministry of ICT, expressed his frustration as follows: “in terms of collaboration with other government agencies, processes and communication are thwarted owing to lack of awareness and know‐how.”

Business functionalities influenced the selection of technologies. Also, stakeholders applied their individual understanding, which made it difficult when it came to selection of technologies for organisational purposes. According to an employee of the Ministry of Works and Transport, “the larger ministries benefit more from the use of technologies because they played a domineering role in the selection of the technologies.” The domineering behaviour manifested from power to control, which also influenced how roles and responsibilities were assigned and executed in the activities of the IS/IT.

Roles and responsibilities were allocated according to the employees’ relevance of knowledge in business and technologies areas. Some employees were specialists in more than one area of disciplines, making such employees heterogeneous in that they belong to more than one group. Heterogeneous actors became powerful owing to their access to information, which they use to dominate in the environment. Some of these employees used to the power to enable processes, at the same time, to constrain activities when it came to selection, implementation, and use of technologies. One of the employees at the Ministry of ICT explained as follows: “some of our colleagues are more involved than others, and they think that they know everything and can make decisions for us all.” The domineering behaviour of the heterogeneous actors negatively impacted the employees’ relationships within the organisation, which sometimes constrained processes owing to lack of inclusiveness. Thus, deployment of technologies sometime because political and as such, some employees selected technologies to serve their own interests rather than for organisational efficiency.

The power and political connotations also affected development and knowledge manage in that skills transfer was often carried based on allegiance to individuals presume to have power. Due to a lack of technical support within the government ministries, most of the development projects were outsourced. Skills transfer among the different employees was a challenge. As a result, the organisations were dependent on consultants for systems maintenances.

Organisational working culture was perceived to be flexible due to the fact they easily embraced new technologies its rapidity. In such cases, it was considered beneficiary and legitimate to transfer employees to areas they had competence. Although the environment was perceived to be flexible, the employees’ actions were constrained by frequent transfer from one unit or tasks to another, as the organisational rules and regulations permit. One of the employees at the Ministry of Justices explained “the governance (rules and regulations) was intended to guide and maintain order in the organisations, but it was often used otherwise. For example, the managers do not negotiate with us before they assign us to new tasks, because the rules allow them to do so.” This affected successful implementation and maintenance of IS/IT artefacts within the Namibian government ministries. This was primarily because many of the employees did not comply with the policies, standards, and principles that were defined for them.

4.2 How can EA be used as tool for the integration of IS/IT within the government ministries in Namibia?

To deliver effective and efficient services to their customers and business partners, the government ministries have offices country wide. The integration of IS/IT artefacts was to promote collaboration and communication among the ministries and their clients. The respondents provided information concerning the integration of IS/IT artefacts. The responses are summarised below:

The ministries’ computing environment constituted of various types of IS/IT artefacts, from software to hardware and network protocols. The technologies were of importance as they enabled the organisations’ goals and objectives. One of the employees at the Ministry of Work and Transport, our IS/IT are not integrated. This was due to various reasons such as

  • Legislations governing systems: Due to different legislations governing systems, it was challenging to integrate systems. The legislations were a result of individual business units’ functionalities.
  • User privacies: It was revealed that some users feared that integrating systems would violate their users and departmental privacies. There were also differences of ownerships once systems are to be integrated.
  • Lack of systems documentations: It was a challenge to integrate existing technologies with new technologies acquired in the organisation because systems and technologies developed by consultancies were not appropriately documented.

In alignment with the above view, an employee at the Ministry of ICT says that “the lack of integration of the systems was costly because it caused operational delays as information was not shared on time.” The interviewees shared similar opinion that information technologies integration is crucial because it eases communication and speeds up processes.

4.3 What is the role of EA in the government ministries?

The EA was not fully implemented because of lack of knowledge and education about EA in organisations. Among the interviewees, there were no roles such as information architects, business architects, or chief architects, rather roles and responsibilities such as systems analyst, analyst programmers and systems administrators were common within the computing environments. The majority were puzzled by what the study meant by EA.

Enterprise architecture is intend to reduce the cost of deployment, maintenances and management of technology, and processes in the enablement of ministries’ goals and objectives. It does this through the elimination of non–value‐adding and redundant activities. However, an employee at the business unit of the Ministry of Justice shared her view, “that the IT specialists made decisions without informing us, and as a result we are not always aware of how IT supports out activities.” The deployment of the EA bridges the gap between business and IT units. Thus, EA brings union between organisational components through its technical and non‐technical domains.

The primary aim of the IT division was to enable and support the business units via applications, IS, internet, and networks. How this aim was articulated and communicated was important due to the necessity to do so. However, there was a lack of awareness among employees as a result of inappropriate communication channels, which was often email that used to converse processes and policies. This type of communication channels used impeded information flow across business units in that many of the employees either do not read their email or does so late, which delays responses. The intention of EA through its information domain intends to improve on information accessibility and manageability. Information shared across the organisation was regarded as strategic asset, owing to the fact that it reveals many factors, from development to implementation stages, about IS/IT artefacts.

In the view of some IT specialists, IS/IT are artefacts that are changing and evolving rapidly. According to an employee at Office of the Prime Minister, “it was challenging to keep up with technology evolving pace. EA acts as a change management tool.” Through gap analysis, the ministries were able to assess the current state of their IS/IT against the desired state as reflected by the business requirements.

Information technology artefacts were perceived to be costly. Based on the cost factor, outdated technologies were in existence, which sometimes caused frustrations among employees. With EA in place, it enables ministries to outline the life cycle and appropriate use of hardware and software products in the organisation. It models the technology environment, including infrastructure configuration and management. The models provide views of the recommended technologies and a basis for assessing the impact of new or replacement technologies within the context of the technologies being considered. The empirical data confirmed the importance and criticality of standard‐based approach. According to the interviewees, “standards promoted consistencies and uniformity of IS/IT artefacts in our environments.” Enterprise architecture provide standards used for the selection, development, and implementation of hardware and software that assists the ministries to respond to the rapid changes, to business processes.

Through the holistic view, business process, activities, and supporting technologies, EA is able to communicate its principles, standards, and policies to stakeholders, and facilitate understanding of the governance. Enterprise architecture architects are specialists who are able to communicate such needs because of their high level of understanding of business and IT strategy.

The development and implementation of IS/IT requires an in‐depth understanding of technical needs and business requirements. In most cases, employees were sent for training to acquire the necessary skills but due to the specialised nature of systems and technologies being developed and implemented, skills transfer does not always occur as intended by management. Enterprise architecture as an iterative process, ensures of planning and training of employees that align with changes of business processes and IT infrastructure.

Source: Developing the enterprise architecture for the Namibian government – Shaanika – – THE ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES – Wiley Online Library