November 30, 2012
The use of road maps to illustrate technology plans is fairly widespread. Whether it's a vendor explaining its product plans or a technology architect showing the evolution of a particular area of the infrastructure, road maps are great for communicating what happens when. And when plans as illustrated by the road map get sign-off, they can become a useful tool in change management as well. Someone wants your key resources for a special project? Fine, but all the dates on that road map they just approved just shifted six months to the right. Road maps tell the story of what to expect an organization to accomplish for the foreseeable future, and that's what makes them powerful.
That's why road maps that link traditionally difficult-to-explain areas of technology, such as those related to information management, to specific and highly desirable business outcomes can be a major win for architects looking to communicate what they're doing and why. There's always been a Catch-22 about explaining the value of complex technologies to audiences with no appetite for technical complexity — but with needed sign-off authority for key resources (like funding). If the EA team has credibility (OK, that can be a big "if"), just showing the interrelationships between business outcomes, business capabilities, IT projects, and required activities in the various EA domains can satisfy the need for "explaining" that complex technology. Or for explaining the need for that not-well-understood architecture process that requires business involvement, such as information architecture development or governance.
Here's a rough example. Other detailed views can supply supplemental information, but this summary view tells the story of how the business goals and strategies drive changes to how business capabilities are instantiated in the application/information/technology architectures.
I was working with a client recently who was having trouble communicating to non-architects in the business as well as in IT about what the EA team was doing. They wanted a graphic that captured their planning in a compelling way but rejected conceptual graphics like enterprise operating model diagrams. I showed them this type of road map and it clicked immediately.
What works for you? Has EA's broadening scope into business architecture provided the info you need to finally provide a comprehensive view of how the enterprise architecture will evolve? Do you have another way of showing it? Please share!