Roadmapping as Design

TOGAF describes candidate roadmap components as emerging from the gap analysis.  The implied sequence is:

  • develop the baseline architecture
  • develop the target architecture
  • identify gaps from the delta between the baseline and target architectures
  • identify candidate roadmap components from the consolidated gap analysis.

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In this entry, I describe an approach that turns this sequence on its head by using the human desire for action.  In this approach, stakeholders are engaged to tell us what they will do to achieve the vision. Instead of the sequence described above, this approach follows the following sequence:

  • identify strategic initiatives (candidate roadmap components);
  • describe the gaps to be closed;
  • describe the elements of the baseline architecture needed to establish the context for the strategic initiatives; and
  • describe the transitional targets implicit in the strategic initiatives.

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Conexiam's Roadmapping Method

This approach to developing a target architecture is useful when undergoing significant transformation.

To be successful, stakeholders must have agreed to long-term vision for transformation, and this provides the target by which they will judge the emerging design.  The vision must be an actionable statement of strategic intent.  By this I mean the vision has the following characteristics:

  • it contains a simple statement of the demand driving change;
  • it defines the key results to be achieved by the change;
  • it describes key features of the resulting business model; and
  • it defines some criteria (usually performance related criteria) that can measure progress and success.

Successful vision statements share another characteristic: they lack detail. This is critical. A vision should set out the long-term target for the business, and unless the business leaders and enterprise architects have a time machine, too much detail about the long-term business model will both be wrong and will stifle innovation.

Assuming that stakeholders have bought into an actionable vision, it is natural for stakeholders to want to get moving toward the vision. In fact, most organizations have a little interest in reading much, let alone writing the travel guide for their destination. They want to get there and experience it for themselves. We can exploit this desire for action through stakeholder engagement to elicit and describe strategic initiatives (roadmap candidates in TOGAF terms) that they believe will achieve then vision.
Each strategic initiative is a statement of a waypoint on the journey toward the vision. The role of the enterprise architect is to:

  • precisely and accurately describe the features of the intermediate destination
  • align the strategic initiatives to resolve duplication and conflicting direction
  • analyse the value of this point relative to the journey and map out the detailed path for completing the strategic initiative.

Approaching the target architecture this way has several benefits, particularly when addressing long-term strategic change.

We can conduct detailed architecture work “just in time”.  Focus detailed architecture work on the roadmap candidates most likely to start within the next one or two planning phases.  Develop mid-level detailed architectures for roadmap components likely to be initiated within the next five planning cycles.  Only high-level descriptions focused on alignment of the roadmap candidates are required over the entire set of roadmap candidates.

This approach corresponds with the way thinking naturally occurs within most organizations.

The approach works naturally with a wide variety of engagement approaches which develop buy-in and give the architect access to the collective wisdom in the enterprise.  I will explore this in greater detail in a subsequent blog entry.

The target architecture emerges over time, enabling the enterprise to learn through doing and take advantages of opportunities as they emerge.

For this approach to be successful,

  • the enterprise must have a mature strategic planning capability
  • mature project governance that is willing and able to refactor or kill projects
  • an enterprise architecture that provides design continuity.

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