planning for roadmaps

Roadmapping and Strategy – An Approach for Success

When thinking about business strategy, there are often two distinct activities. The first is defining what needs to happen, and involves answering questions such as the following:

• Where is our organisation positioned today, what are its strengths and weaknesses?
• How do we need to be positioned in future to survive and thrive in our competitive environment?
• What needs to change for this to happen?

We have found that the definition of what needs to change is often seen as the end point for the business executives. However, this leaves the crucial question:

• How do we get from where we are today to where we need to be tomorrow?

Translating the high-level outputs that are delivered as part of “What needs to change for this to happen?“ into detailed, practical, thoroughly costed action plans presents challenges on a different scale.

An Enterprise Architecture Management Tool, with Roadmapping and Strategic Planning capabilities, can be the perfect vehicle to assist with answering this question. The first step is to model the current state – the baseline of planning change in an organisation. Understanding the current organisational business model, covering all aspects such as the business capabilities, processes, people, applications and technology systems and the information that is exchanged is a crucial first step. You can’t define how to get somewhere if you don’t have a good idea of your starting point.

Interestingly, we are often told that the first objective for a new EA Tool is to create Roadmaps – we always point out that the current state is the foundation that is required to allow this to happen, so there has to be some focus on that in order to give the roadmaps context. Defining a target state without the current state is perfectly fine, and in some cases preferable as you aren’t constrained by the current state in your thinking.  You will need to consider the current state at some point as you may find your target is actually unachievable based on where you are.

Once the current state has been captured then then it is possible to create Roadmaps showing the necessary workstreams and their interactions, and the steps needed to move from the current to the future state. Costings and risk assessments can be factored in, in addition to the interdependencies between the elements that are being changed, be it applications, technologies, people or processes. Simple Gannt style charts can easily communicate the changes involved, and more detailed transition views can highlight dependencies and issues associated with alterations that will inevitably happen along the way.

In the Gartner report “4 Roadmapping Tactics to Drive Successful Strategy Execution”, which we have recently made available via our website, some tips for successful delivery of the strategy includes EA leaders taking a structured and comprehensive approach to roadmapping to effectively describe and plan change, to focus different outputs on different business roles and to highlight risks and issue. You can find the report here – Gartner Report

Essential is a low-cost EA Management Tool that provides the capabilities required to assist an organisation to deliver on the promise encapsulated in its strategy definition. It has many quick start tools to get the current state captured quickly and effectively and allow team to move on to the all-important task of defining the plans needed to drive change.

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