I am currently preparing to take the Microsoft Dynamics 365 + Power Platform Solution Architect certification. Or “MB 600” for short! As I prepare I plan to write revision notes in this post I will cover “Identify existing solutions and systems”.
The skills measured statement includes the following details. I will attempt to cover each of these statements in turn.
Evaluate organization enterprise architecture
Understanding the existing architecture can be essential. This maybe in terms of the physical network, solutions and data.
Never assume your solution will live in isolation. The solution Architect should determine how other apps might impact their proposals. Asking these questions might help;
- What apps / systems are we replacing?
- What apps / systems must remain?
- What connectors / APIs are available? (Especially for the apps that will remain!)
Identify data sources to be included in the solution
Often understand the existing data will be key. Often we may spend a lot of time looking at the actual data architecture. But it is also important to consider other factors such as data location, history and quality. All of these can impact many stages in the project / solution development.
When evaluating data consider the following;
- Where does the data reside now?
- Where should it reside?
- Do we have any integrity concerns?
- Are there data quality issues such as duplicates?
- Is a history maintained? And if so, how much.
- What type of access will users have (and need) to transactional and historical data?
Define usage and quality of legacy data
Mapping the existing data and understanding what should be migrated to the new system will be an important task.
Legacy data quality maybe questionable, some common issues include;
- Duplicates – duplicate contacts, accounts and more can cause many issues for businesses. If the legacy data is known to be littered with duplicates then investigating a strategy to cleanse this data before importing into the new solution may be beneficial.
- Poorly formatted data – phone numbers, email addresses, URLS and the like may contain incorrect data. Often I have found that legacy systems do not contain the required validation to enforce good data quality. In extreme cases this can actually prevent data records from importing.
- Incorrect address data – the quality of address data can be an issue. Often distinct fields might not exist for each address line, city, postcode and the like. Meaning that mapping address data from the legacy system into the new one can present a challenge.
Compliance issues may also be present, historic contact data may have been collected prior to more recent regulations existing. In these circumstances you might need to review if the data can legally be used and if not maybe it shouldn’t be migrated.
Understanding the current data and its usage can also be beneficial when thinking about the new system design. Although you should guard against simply replicating the old data fields and structures. As you could end up just replicating the old system and failing to gain the required benefits.
Identify desired high-level organizational business processes
Most organizations will have multiple lines of business! Because of this the Architect may need to ask many questions to understand how the solutions being developed will affect the multiple products / services the customer supplies. Questions to ask could include;
- What overlaps exist in business processes between lines of business?
- What overlaps in data exist between lines of business?
- What new lines of business are in the near-term and medium-term plans?
- Do other business units in the organization use similar Microsoft technologies?