Tag Archives: Enterprise Architecture

Far from being passé, Current State has its Importance

I believe this topic had been debated countless times. Let me share my experience from two projects that I was involved.

In the first project, we did a stock take of the existing business architecture, and managed to identify the gaps to move forward. The main motivation was customer driven. The customer wanted to be sure that the target state was not dreamt up. There has to be evidence about what is lacking from the current state. And the identified gaps are of business relevance and importance.

In the second project, we mapped out the target state after a series of visioning exercise. During the clarification/validation state, stakeholders were pointing out missing elements from the current state that would still be relevant and needed in future. At that juncture I was thinking of what went through the minds of the stakeholders. Would they feel that the architectural team does not have a good grasp of the business?

From these limited experience, I learnt that the architects shouldn’t dictate if current state should be skipped. Instead, if the intent was to go straight to target state, should an approach shall be communicated with the customer to seek their agreement prior to execution.

Time may be saved up front by not going into the current state, but customer confidence could be shaken when important and relevant contents go missing in the target state. And eventually, these have to be added back. So the time saving may not be substantial.

Nevertheless, I’m not suggesting to develop an extensive current state. What is required, are the relevant and important current state segments. This can be done by talking to the customers.

A key challenge is how to ensure and be able to prove that the identified target state is not fashion fad.

Use PRINCE2 to Improve the Success of your Enterprise Architecture Project

Can PRINCE2 and Enterprise Architecture (EA) work together? I would think so. In fact, I would say that they can work well with one another. There’re areas of similarities and also areas that PRINCE2 can complement an EA project.

EA projects are after all projects and hence would benefit from using PRINCE2 in managing.

Like any other projects, EA projects are also susceptible to scope creep and for customers new to EA, they typically do not know what to expect out of the project. Or sometimes it is just a matter of differences in expectations.

I believe the following would help add clarity and improve the success rate of EA projects.

1. Product Based Planning
2. Project Product Descriptor and Product Descriptor
3. Managing by Stage

Just by adopting these, quite a fair bit of the common issues encountered in lesser successful projects could be mitigated, if not resolved.

Before the start of the project, it is important to plan and breakdown your products/deliverables. What do you need to produce/develop in order to successfully completed the project. This will set the scope clearly. Anything not within the product breakdown potentially are out of scope.

The Project Product Descriptor and Product Descriptor helps to give clarity to everyone involved in the project. There will be no ambiguity in what qualifies the product as fit for purpose. Customers/users will know what to expect and whether is it what they want/need. No longer do customers and enterprise architects need to argue over what is acceptable or not since the acceptance criteria are mutually discussed and agreed upon.

Lastly, by managing the project in stages, it gives us flexibility and control. Is it practical to plan for anything longer than a year? Or maybe even 9 months? By planning and executing in stages, we have logical breaks to evaluate the viability of the project, to make resource changes and to adapt to the changing environment. Resources are only required in the stages that they are involved instead of the entire project.

And by planning the delivery of products at end of stages, we can logically suspend or end the project.

EA projects can sometime spread over years and one typical grouse is that it takes too long to taste success. By breaking the long period into shorter and more palatable stages whereby quick wins can be demonstrated, this improves the confidence of the customers.

There’re certainly more things that one can adopt from PRINCE2. In fact, if there are no obstacles, one can simply run EA project as PRINCE2 project.