We have noticed that many organisations are currently looking to their EA to support their strategy management, whether that be business and IT or just IT focused. This is quite a shift for some organisations in moving EA up the stack and out of project or domain focused architecture to one that provides a broader, higher level view.
Our Strategy Management release is, therefore, very timely. It has been in development for some time and was the focus of ECP 4, we would like to acknowledge and thank the community for their contributions to the release. We have been using it at one of our global clients for some time and it is, therefore, released with us knowing that it actually works in real life situations – in a global organisation that has distributed businesses with differing regional and organisational objectives.
A very brief overview of the key elements in this release is given below, but for full details see the release documentation:-
- Architecture States – represent the different states of your architecture. Sometimes these are referred to as ‘current state’ and ‘future state’, but we think it is best to avoid these terms as your current state is always evolving and will eventually (one would hope!) become your future state, which makes everything somewhat confusing. In our opinion it is better to actually refer to the state you are in (politely of course!) and the state you want to be in, including the steps in between. So, an example of the type of naming we would suggest is ‘manual invoicing’, then ‘automated payment – UK’, followed by ‘automated invoicing – UK ’ and finally ‘fully automated invoicing’ , which allow you to understand exactly what each architecture state is referring to.
An architecture state can relate to one or all of the layers of the architecture, and this will depend on the type of project that is being transitioned.
We would expect there to be many of these very specific architecture states that reflect different areas of focus, rather than having a very few states that represent the entire EA at specific points in time. We think the idea of lots of ‘smaller’, more specific architecture states is very powerful for managing the complexity of the progression of the architecture; break it into manageable chunks that deal with specific programmes or areas of interest and use lots of specific, focussed roadmaps rather than having one unwieldy uber roadmap. However, if that is what you need to manage the transition of your EA then you can, of course, do just that!
- Roadmap Model – is the pictorial representation showing how the architecture(s) will transition between the various different states, which are shown as roadmap milestones on the model. A timeline for this transitioning can also be included in the model.
- Strategic Plans – hold the detail of how the organisation plans to transition from one state to another and are implemented by Projects, which can be grouped into Programmes. Strategic Plans also hold the detail of what Issues are being addressed and Objectives are being met by the implementation of the Strategic Plans.
There are a number of standard views released with the pack, but in true Essential spirit we expect users to develop their own views to meet the needs of their organisation. The type of views we envisage being used are, for example, a view that maps Projects to Issues and Objectives, so you can see which projects support which Objectives and resolve which Issues. This can be useful in allocating resources to the areas providing most benefit to the organisation.
We feel that this is a key area of EA, and additionally it is one that is, or should be, the focus of many organisations at the moment as they move forward following the recession. Using EA to assist with the strategy management within an organisation is really where the big pay back from EA can start to be seen. Of course, all the underlying activities and effort are also crucial and can provide benefits on a project or region or domain basis, but using EA to support strategy management is the activity that can provide the overall view of where the organisation is now, where it wants to be, the plans it has for moving there and, crucially, can be used to ensure the organisation actually gets there. It can do this by analysing information and then providing the insights, as stakeholder specific views, that highlight potential pitfalls and areas of opportunity and allowing these to be used to aid decision making and ensure the strategic plans are achieved.
We are always keen to hear your views, please let us know if you have any comments.