It is not surprising that a company with more than 300,000 employees in over 100 countries has a heterogenous IT landscape. How a small team stays on top of this complexity thanks to automation is explained by Mirjam Bayatloo, Senior Consultant Enterprise Architecture Management, and Thomas Schreiner, Director Enterprise Architecture Management at Fresenius Netcare.
What exactly are the tasks of the department Enterprise Architecture Management?
Thomas Schreiner: Our primary mission is to bring worldwide transparency into the IT landscape of the Fresenius Group. We want to understand which IT we have in the different countries; which applications are used and how everything is related. We also examine the connections with the underlying infrastructure. In addition to this transparency task, it is our objective to form and enhance this worldwide architecture to support the business targets of our Group in the best possible way. We identify what the company exactly needs, what a good IT landscape requires in this sense and how we achieve this.
Our primary mission is to bring worldwide transparency into the IT landscape of the Fresenius Group.
Mirjam Bayatloo: The background is, that we of course find an incredible heterogeneity. We have thousands of applications distributed over hundreds of affiliates within a huge network of dependencies and interrelations. To understand this complexity and be able to communicate precisely all the same, we must contemplate the IT landscape from a bird’s eye view and try to classify it clearly. In such classification, applications are categorized according to their area of use – personnel, production or marketing for instance. But we also look at the geographic distribution: which affiliate uses what kind of IT? And we examine dependencies on each other, like which consequences there are if something changes at one point in the system.
And where do you get this information?
Thomas Schreiner: We are attached to various processes, for example to the IT Request Process. Hence if someone orders something new with regards to IT, we receive a notification. Data protection is also one of our sources. If a new application is announced, we are informed about it. It is planned to involve us early if certain systems are to be selected. Of course, we cannot select the actual system or application – this is controlled by the specific departments. However, we’re really good at evaluating if the system or the application fits into our existing IT landscape, if technology fits and if we have the capacity and know-how to maintain it going further. We also pay attention if we are acquiring a technology which might lead to problems with regards to operation or integration later or if we will be able to deal with it well because it simply matches what we already have.
How does your daily routine look like?
Mirjam Bayatloo: I have a typical office job. I spend a lot of time behind my laptop, contact the respective application responsibles regularly and support them if necessary. It is about keeping up with all projects. Last year for instance we worked on improving the data quality the IT landscape is based on. We also made sure that we don’t have too much work with our own process. I always try to automize a lot and write scripts for our central tool so that we only have to do few things manually.
Thomas Schreiner: I have a lot of meetings and calls because I talk with different stakeholders from the whole world, the entire organization and from each segment. And it is always about how we can contribute to achieve an overall advantage for single departments and the whole group with our transparency and overview. This is the major part of my daily work: to think about where we can anchor architecture management additionally and to which group disciplines we can add value. I build up contacts, for example to our audit departments, risk management, data protection and so on.
And how did you come to Fresenius, what is your background?
Mirjam Bayatloo: I studied information technology and worked for an IT strategy consultancy before. I had already dealt with projects about Enterprise Architecture Management there and found it exciting back then. I wanted to change to a corporation and looked directly at Fresenius’ website. The job description seemed appealing to me because it was about building and designing something. I liked this in particular. That the team was built completely from scratch and it fascinated me that I was able to collaborate in the design. And that’s not finished yet, there’s still a lot of potential into different directions where we can add substantial value for the Fresenius Group. I am part of the team since mid-2018.
Thomas Schreiner: I also studied information technology, I am working in the group since 2013 and was employed as project manager and architect at a big software manufacturer before. In my first role for Fresenius I was responsible for different architecture transformations as a project manager. At some point I became aware that we needed to build up an Enterprise Architecture Management to retain the overview. That was beginning of 2017. I started as a staff position at first but soon started employing further team members.
Now you only recently received an award. How come and what was it exactly about?
Mirjam Bayatloo: In order to make the entire IT landscape transparent, we are using a tool called LeanIX. It allows us to maintain all data regarding to our application landscape, the segments and processes. In addition, it enables us to visualize the data and create appealing overviews according to different criteria. We highlight for example which applications are especially critical with regards to security or which process certain data categories. We strongly broadened the tool and adjusted our processes. Thus, we developed the data quality management for instance to a large extent by ourselves and strongly automized the tool in order to require as few as possible manual interactions. LeanIX has a strong programming interface which we made use of to connect other tools on the one hand and implement our own processes on the other.
Thomas Schreiner: The tool has an active community in which we are active, present and discuss our own extensions, for example by symposium presentations. The manufacturer noticed a variety of ideas and extensions so positively that he decided to grant us the „Strongest Innovator“ award. Because with what we do, we play at the top of the league. We created our own community where 40 to 50 companies are represented; hence we built a strong network. Thereby we have reached a certain visibility beyond the borders of Fresenius.
What do you like about your work within Enterprise Architecture Management?
Mirjam Bayatloo: My work is flexible and creative, I appreciate that. And I can cast a big glance at the whole group. In our tool we have a world map overview for example. Here I can see which segments are using which kind of technology and how everything is linked. Hereby we can connect segments that have never been in touch with each other. This also allows us to foster standardization.
We are one of the departments that is most strongly interlinked with the entire group because really everyone is in contact with us.
Thomas Schreiner: If we receive a request for a system for contract administration for example, we can have a look where in the world something alike is already in place and if there is a standard solution available. That way we can help the requiring department pragmatically and reduce the risk of hidden follow-up costs. We are one of the departments that is most strongly interlinked with the entire group because really everyone is in contact with us. Because everyone has the requirement to understand the own IT landscape better. I am dealing with the whole world every day and I like this very much. All the threads come together in our department, we are sitting namely like a spider in the web – if we don’t have the overview, nobody else has it.
Many thanks for this conversation!
Have you become curious? Then you are welcome to apply for the position of Senior Enterprise Architect.