How architecture helps agile projects achieve business goals

The translation was prepared as part of the early start of the course Enterprise Architect“.

We invite everyone to the webinar Past, Present and Future: Roles of the Enterprise Architect. In this open lesson:
– Let’s discuss the role of the enterprise architect: who they were, who they became and who they should be in the foreseeable future, and why.
– Let’s talk about the necessary competencies of a change agent and basic knowledge for a positive impact in the organization.
– We will see where the architectural approach begins and where to strive for in professional development

Too many projects initiated by traditional businesses fail to deliver meaningful business results in a reasonable amount of time. Survey conducted in 2018 Gartner showed that “90% of business leaders consider digital technology their top priority,” but at the same time, “83% of executives find it difficult to make meaningful progress in digital transformation.”

Rapid and constant innovation change and more informed customers are forcing companies to adopt more flexible business strategies. Lead times are now shorter and require companies to become more agile and rely less on a siled organizational structure to execute their strategy. Capital needs to be reallocated to client-centric initiatives and projects.

The Boston Consulting Group identifies three main reasons failure of major business transformation initiatives:

Lack of transparency. Leaders of business transformation initiatives or programs do not have a broad understanding of the firm’s strategies and cannot single out the ones that matter most from all of their programs. They have too many projects for the resources allocated to them.

Too long delivery cycles. Traditional transformation management practices drag programs into long delivery cycles. Inflexible, multi-year complex milestones in the early stages of programs are not suitable for agile companies. The targeted business outcomes of digital transformation initiatives will evolve repeatedly as you build an agile, customer-driven enterprise.

Improper management. Top management must resist the urge to delegate key responsibilities to project managers, who should be responsible for planning, agreeing and resolving problems, but usually lack a deep understanding of the organization’s development strategies.

Involvement of enterprise architecture in agile projects

Agile management of large-scale initiatives or projects requires two important components. First, a structured and rigorous approach is needed to drive digital transformation initiatives from the idea stage to the realization of benefits. Program execution should never begin before the strategy is clearly articulated by management. Second, it requires frequent recalibration of the plan to adapt to contextual changes that may occur during implementation.

To implement these two components corporate architects (EA) must be involved at all stages of the project, from strategic planning and funding to reviewing implementation results and evaluating success.

Strategy and tactics

Most companies create elaborate long-term strategies at the highest level of management, but too often they fail to formulate appropriate goals that are more precise and require a higher level of commitment. Moreover, many companies may not review their strategies often enough. Enterprise architects can help management diffuse and more frequently transform these strategies into tactics at lower levels and across their organization. Corporate architects can also assist management in setting appropriate realistic goals and objectives for all of the strategies and tactics listed, and can play an important role in adjusting the goals and business outcomes of agile projects.

7 benefits of using architecture in digital transformation projects

  1. Better alignment of your agile projects with company strategies and tactics,

  2. Easily identify value streams and opportunities that matter most and require more funding,

  3. Optimal planning and management of production facilities and resources for the implementation of Agile projects,

  4. Better communication between agile teams to avoid duplication of projects,

  5. Detailed corporate view for more accurate and faster definition of epics and user stories,

  6. Excellent employee engagement and

  7. Improved reporting and real-time analytics to fine tune decision making.

Financial system and prioritization

Leveraging customer-centric value streams and measurable business opportunities is an objective and convenient way to prioritize projects. Streams of value and opportunity are much more stable over time than organization charts, processes, products, or applications. When used correctly, starting with customer interactionthey can ensure that the frequently revised definition of human and financial resources devoted to agile projects is in sync with the evolving strategies and goals of the client-centered organization.

Project planning

By leveraging elements of their enterprise architecture model, enterprise architects can accelerate the definition of requirements, epics, and user stories needed to deliver and execute programs, projects, and sprints. In addition, large agile programs will often have duplicate projects and subprojects. Corporate architects have the expertise to spot them.

Project progress checks

During an agile project, corporate architects should participate in regular reviews by key members of the flexible delivery team: product managers should signal what to do next; system architects should indicate how the project can be optimally implemented; release engineers in SAFe need to specify the best way to implement the project; and business owners should strive for the desired business outcome and the corresponding goal with which the agile project should be aligned.

Success rates

Your newly developed software can perform perfectly according to specifications and be available 99.99% of the time; you may have completed your agile program and projects on time and on budget. However, you may not have been able to achieve your business goals and your project’s related business capability may still be operating at a very low level. In such cases, corporate architects can help figure out what went wrong and find appropriate solutions to keep it from happening less often.

Architecture and SAFe

Many organizations are moving forward at full speed in their digital transformation, often using SAFeand find that including corporate architects on their team increases the likelihood of achieving business results from agile projects.

To support the value stream through SAFeContinuous Delivery Pipeline’s flexible architecture will evolve over time to support customer needs while trying to avoid the overhead and delays associated with traditional project management methods. The flexible architecture ensures that the delivery system always works, minimizing set-up time, and will help bring emergent design to the delivered project.

Well-adjusted enterprise architecture techniques can be very beneficial to the success of agile projects and increase the likelihood of achieving targeted business results for customer-centric organizations.

Learn more about digital transformation:

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