We have written many posts at the Architectural Thinking blog that deal with more strategic topics like vision, strategy and business architecture and how to connect this to solution development. The common aim defines the direction the company shall go, based on a vision statement created by executives. After that, business architecture comes into play and make the vision more operational. The upcoming posts show how strategic planning of the application & technology landscape can be operationalized using two simple architecture maps: application map and technology map.
Strategic Application Landscape Planning
In this viewpoint, applications and their current status are the focal points for decisions. Questions to be decided include:
- Which applications are positioned to be strategic and are here to stay, and which applications are phased out in the medium/long term?
- When do we bring our new trading application into production?
- When do we migrate our redundant customer applications to our new CRM application platform?
- When is our CRM application platform ready, so that we can start to build our sales- and marketing applications on top of it?
The best ways to visualize the current state is a heat-mapped capability/application map:
This heat map shows the applications assigned to the business capabilities they support. The color indicates if the application is (i) strategic, (i.e. no plans to replace it within 5 years), (ii) to be replaced in the mid-term or (iii) to be replaced in the long-term. This visualization is simple, clear, management-compatible and used widely in practice. It enables the strategic management of the application landscape by maximizing the value for the whole organization.
What you should do:
- Model a simple capability map (as discussed in our capability modeling crash-course as the skeleton for assigning applications)
- Create your application landscape map in a way that is suitable for management decisions. Don’t overwhelm your most important target audience
- Provide an enterprise-wide picture with the most important applications only
- Create more detailed application landscape maps for level 1 or 2 capabilities (eg. one for Sales&Service, Giro,…)
- Establish governance boards for level 1 or 2 capabilities that make strategic application landscape planning decisions for their capabilities
- Be aware that this map is highly political. A clear statement that an application is replaced within the next year might affect the jobs of many people (like the application owner, the software developers, the data center) and so on.
- If you are an architect, be careful in the communication process and calculate resistance and unhappy stakeholders.
- Just ask questions, keep being the ‘good cop’ and let the governance boards be the bad cop. It is always their decision to affect the jobs of hundreds of people, not yours.