The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) ensures the delivery and administration of justice and equality for all citizens and residents throughout the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It supervises and coordinates the primary legal and judicial mechanisms, and processes that protect individual rights while safeguarding the rule of law.
Keeping in mind its high profile public nature, the IT team at ADJD has put together IT systems and infrastructure that cater to its objective.
“ADJD’s IT infrastructure is based on Windows and Unix systems, and Intel x86 and Itanium servers,” says Rashed Saqer Al Dhaheri, director of the IT bureau at ADJD. “The network architecture is Cisco-based. The network spans across 36 remote sites. The operations team is responsible for managing 200+ servers, 200+ network devices supporting 50 business applications, accessed by 2,500 end-users and public customers. Network architecture includes different layers of security at internal, DMZ at perimeter levels. All the access attempts are recorded, monitored and reported periodically. ADJD provides some of the key judicial e-services which are available, accessed and supported 24/7. ADJD IT service management is based on ITIL best practices and the key processes of service support and service delivery are already in place,” says Al Dhaheri, ADJD.
Recently, the non-profit, public service provider, which offers more than 200 services to the public, went through a vast modernisation and restructuring process with the vision of assuring an efficient and independent judicial system based on excellence that provides world class judicial services.
“This restructuring and modernisation process has imposed remarkable changes on the organisational structure, addition of new services, and introduction of new technologies,” says Al Dhaheri.
Along with this modernisation initiative, ADJD felt the need to manage increasing horizontal and vertical growth and a growingly complex environment. It also wanted to get in line with the various recommendations provided by the Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Committee (ADSIC), which governs all government entities.
After considering the options available to them, the 85 member IT team of ADJD, led by Al Dhaheri, decided to adopt and implement an enterprise architecture project.
“Enterprise architecture (EA) is an emerging practice devoted to improving the performance of the enterprises by enabling visibility in terms of the holistic and integrated view. This allows organisations to build agility and reduce response time to any changing internal or external conditions. ADJD is a young organisation established in July 2007. After completing the implementation of the technical infrastructure, one of the early initiatives was to use EA as a tool for organisational transformation and modernisation,” says Al Dhaheri.
|Rashed Saqer Ali Dhaheri, Director of the IT bureau at ADJD
ADJD went through a rigorous selection process to choose the right vendor for the EA project. Its selection process and scoring criteria included the project implementation and methodology proposed, the structure of the project team and its competency, market research of commercials and promises, experience in similar implementations (both local and international) and the duration proposed for the project. Considering all these elements, ADJD selected the Maptech-Shift Technologies, (part of Al Rostamani Group), partnership.
“Maptech – Shift is a pioneering IT and business consulting firm that enables government and commercial clients to transform best practice concepts into effective organisational capabilities. They have a successful track record of EA implementations,” says Al Dhaheri.
The project aimed to establish EA as a practice within ADJD and it covered definition of EA as a framework, getting a meta-model, principles, lifecycle and governance in place, evaluating performance of EA, identification of a maturity model and definition of a concrete roadmap. It also included definition of a Technical Reference Model (TRM), documentation of AS-IS and development of TO-BE models at different layers, and adoption of IT best practices, like ITIL, SLDC and COBIT.
“ADJD’s custom enterprise architecture framework is loosely based on the Zachman Framework, making it a classification one in nature. It categorises the information that is needed to describe an enterprise (what, who, how, where, when and why of business). It is intended to provide a classification scheme for relating real world concepts to the concepts of information systems at ADJD. The framework can be viewed as a window for access into the EA information repository, ensuring ease of navigation between the models and providing insight into the EA footprint,” says Al Dhaheri.
The framework classifies information according to two dimensions – architecture layers and perspectives. Each intersection of those dimensions is represented by a set of models to address stakeholder concerns or interests of the organisation.
According to Al Dhaheri, the framework provides multiple benefits including, the provision of tools, a common vocabulary and standards, speeding up and simplifying architectural development, ensuring more complete coverage of an architectural solution as well as the provision of a logical structure to organise EA artifacts.
“The EA lifecycle at ADJD is cyclical in nature and is based on the TOGAF Architecture Development Method (ADM). It combines the various activities the architecture team has to perform whenever an EA project is initiated from a business request for architecture work. It includes five main phases which get executed sequentially, centred on a change management phase,” says Al Dhaheri.
The first is the strategy layer, which holds the goals, objectives and initiatives of ADJD’s business units. The second is the business layer, which consists of three levels – the value chain where ADJD’s entities are classified into core, government or support, the process level and then the business level. Together, they provide a holistic view of ADJD.
This is followed by the application layer, and the data layer, which holds the information about the enterprise application’s database in three different models, namely conceptual, logical and physical. In each case, the underlying models capture information about each database in detail.
The final infrastructure layer comprises of three levels as well. The conceptual level shows the WAN of ADJD (36 geographically separated locations), the logical level displays the LAN of ADJD and the physical describes the infrastructure in details.
Al Dhaheri states, “ADJD started the EA initiative in the beginning of Febuary 2009 and took six months to complete the entire documentation of the enterprise. In August 2009 the project went live.”
Maintaining the practice
The EA project at ADJD involved no unnecessary upgrade or replacement of equipment or software. During the implementation of the project ADJD tackled the training and knowledge transfer by having a separate communication plan.
The project team provided the different kinds of training for the respective stakeholders, including TOGAF certification, BPMN, tool training and data modelling. Al Dhaheri adds that since the ADJD team collaborated on the development from the beginning, the knowledge transfer was not that painful.
However, the deployment did not come without its own special challenges.
“Due to the modernisation effort, many changes were taking place at all levels. There were exponential changes at all the enterprise levels such as organisational structure, business process, data, application and infrastructure. These changes were in parallel with the project execution, which made maintaining a centralised repository of the organisation artifacts extremely challenging. The project team mitigated this risk by enabling the comprehensive change management process for all ADJD business and IT components, which supported the integration and consistency of the EA repository,” says Al Dhaheri.
The other major challenge involved the need to increase awareness, build knowledge and bring about cultural change in ADJD.
“The team developed a separate plan to mitigate this different levels of stakeholders. It developed and implemented a communication plan (awareness, training, etc) and a marketing plan (brochures, posters etc.,),” says Al Dhaheri.
With the challenges mitigated, Al Dhaheri says that the solution has delivered on its objectives. This included the complete documentation of business processes (more than 350) across 35 different departments, of 55 enterprise applications, of servers and other infrastructure elements as well as the database management system. It finished the identification and documentation of more than 200 services provided to the public.
Significant change requests are being assessed with the help of theEA repository, business process reports are being used as a reference and also give the holistic view of the business and cross-functional activities, and initiatives are being assessed with the As-Is models and validated against the To-Be models.
The business process re-engineering (BPR) exercise helped to identify improvement opportunities for public services. The BPR exercise was carried out for 8 bureaus by the EA team based on the as-is business process of the EA repository and achieved 21% reduction in the number of activities, 36% drop in the low value adding activities and 34% drop in handovers. Thus, cutting the time the customers spend to a few minutes.
“There is a connected view from the strategy to the underlying infrastructure and this is being used as an effective traceability tool. It also helps to narrow the problem and improve an area quickly with the impact assessment reports,” says Al Dhaheri.
“EA is a process, so there is need to practice it everyday. ADJD has planned to do several elements as a roadmap for the EA programme. These include performing the Architecture Development Method (ADM) for all the initiatives of ADJD, generating architectural contract, architectural compliancereport and requirements document as a input for RFPs, prioritising all the initiatives as well as the project list, implementing the remainder of IT governance and service management processes, business process re-engineering for the remaining bureau’s business processes and balancing the score-card for initiatives and projects,” says Al Dhaheri.
ADJD’s EA project has already received couple of awards in recognition of it being a pioneer in practicing the program in a full-fledged fashion. The project actually underscores the importance that IT is given in the organisation, and consequently how increasingly crucial it is proving to be for achieving business objectives.
“The guiding principle of IT is to provide the foundation for the organisation. There are standards for how employees and managers are expected to act and interact. They provide a goal for how we want the IT bureau to be in the future. Each employee should strive to embody these principles, and challenge management to do the same,” says Al Dhaheri.
He adds, “In terms of IT alignment with the ADJD strategy, it’s directly aligned as well as being a subset of ADJD’s strategy. IT position itself in a prominent way by which it act as a enabler for all the ADJD strategic services. The IT bureau directly reports to the Undersecretary of ADJD. We see the IT team as a trusted partner and preferred IT provider for the strategic service within ADJD.”
Need we say more?
Quick look at ADJD
The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department ensures the delivery and administration of justice and equality for all citizens and residents throughout the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It supervises and co-ordinates the primary legal and judicial mechanisms and processes that protect individual rights and safeguard the rule of law.
ADJD is based on a tri-tiered court system. It comprised of the Court of Cassation, Court of Appeals, and Courts of First Instance. In addition, subsidiary services such as Fatwa, Notary Public, Family Guidance, Reconciliation and Settlement Committees, as well as specialised courts work concurrently to ensure the administration of justice. Each court is managed by a Court President and supported by dedicated judges and administrative staff.
The Judicial Council oversees judiciary affairs. Comprised of ten senior members of the Department, the Judicial Council approves judge appointments, promotions, secondments and other important technical judicial affairs. The Undersecretary of the Department supervises all administrative support functions, whereas the Attorney General supervises all prosecutorial functions.