How to Drive Change While Building Your Current State Architecture

1 Mar 2023

by Jacqueline S.

A common challenge many organizations face when kickstarting their Enterprise Architecture (EA) initiatives is how to drive enterprise change when their current state architecture is still a work in progress. It is true that to make confident, informed changes, an organization needs to first get a clear overview of the architecture. With this overview, the business can then get real insight into the full impact any proposed or necessary changes will have. However, a complete overview of the entire current state architecture is not strictly necessary for an organization to begin unlocking value. Here are some top tips on making the most of your As-Is even as you begin building it out. 

Successful Current State Architecture Assessment: Focus On What Matters

The first step of an current state architecture assessment is to get an overview of your IT landscape. This is a foundational step in building out your architecture. This process is also known as Application Portfolio Management (APM). From there, you can evolve your EA practice and move on to other outcomes like delivering more effective change and benefit realization.

Embark on this step with a clear and narrower scope in mind. Setting out to create autonomous and continuous methods to fully document an ever-changing IT landscape can take a long time. It can also delay the benefits you could realize sooner by improving the change process. Don’t wait until the end of governance to start implementing and realizing value. Dividing and conquering your architecture will help you begin to unlock value sooner.

Documenting sufficient data in the areas most critical or relevant to the business will help you to start driving enterprise change faster and improving your understanding of change impact. discussion of current state architectureThere are several ways to divide and conquer your data to document the most crucial elements of your current state architecture first. For instance, you can start by reducing the scope of your APM initiative and focusing only on the areas of the IT landscape that change the most, such as the systems that support customer engagement. This way, you can document enough of your IT ecosystem so that you can understand your current state architecture in a critical area sooner. This essentially means you can rapidly identify opportunities for improvement, suggest changes, and analyze the impact of those changes. 

You can also let upcoming enterprise change initiatives drive the prioritization of your APM documentation.  For instance, by deciding how much of the architecture landscape needs documentation for the cloud journey or how much is needed for a merger and acquisition initiative.

Such change initiatives will trigger other small, iterative, and incremental APM processes. These processes will allow you to identify and document the most relevant applications, infrastructure, and business capabilities realization that will enable you to start the change process. Examples of such processes are: 

  • Application Rationalization: Enables you to swiftly and continuously optimize the application portfolio and IT spend.
  • Application Lifecycle Management: Enables monitoring of an application from its initial planning until its retirement.
  • IT Lifecycle Management: Aids planning, acquisition, implementation, maintenance, and retirement of key IT infrastructure components that are essential to support business functions.

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Safe, Effective Change Impact Assessment: Get Insights Without Compromising Your Data

Once the most important parts of your portfolio are captured, the next step is to understand how your changes affect the landscape and business. Enterprise Architects (EAs) face a great challenge when modeling both their current and future state architectures in the same environment: the As-Is blends together with the To-Be. How can you safely model changes without altering the precious data you have just gathered?

Quality proposal visuals can help EAs better understand the impact of change as it keeps the current state architecture intact to clearly differentiate the As-Is and the To-Be. Two common but problematic approaches are in-app tagging and using sandbox environments. 

1. Ad-hoc In-App Tagging: Tedious Manual Notation without Change Isolation

In-app tagging of unapproved changes is a very labor-intensive way to flag changes, and it does not offer change isolation. This approach also relies heavily on a well-structured approval workflow and communications process to prevent the As-Is data from becoming volatile. This is generally a poor way of solving the problem, especially for large organizations which need better governance and control. 

2. Sandbox Environments: Full Change Isolation Leading to Disconnect from Mainline Data

While sandbox environments provide full change isolation, there is the risk that you are basing your changes on out-of-date mainline data as the changes made in production are not immediately reflected. Moreover, some testing environments come without a merging functionality, which calls for manually replicating the changes in the mainline. Some others do include this functionality but may require all changes to be merged at once, which can also be problematic and cause delays if some proposed changes are good to go while others await further input. 

With these key challenges in mind, Ardoq proposes a different problem-solving approach based on collaborative code development. Our Scenarios tool allows you to keep your As-Is, or mainline data, untouched as you can select any part of the current state architecture and branch it. This creates a copy of your As-Is in a completely separate environment with the latest available mainline data to model changes and safely experiment with any proposed enterprise change. Scenarios can be used to plan for ongoing projects to build transition architectures, as an example, or for pure experimentation and simulation. Once the changes or project is completed, you can effortlessly update the As-Is by merging all or a few selected changes made in the scenario to the mainline.

ardoq scenarios example

Smarter, Insights-Focused Tooling: Set Yourself Up for Successful Enterprise Change

At the foundation of any successful enterprise change initiative lies documentation. It is the basis for educated decisions about architectural and technological changes to the organization. It also gives a baseline for understanding the impact of change. Being able to show business value is the key to successfully transforming your architecture landscape into one that supports your business goals.

Ardoq’s approach to current state architecture documentation and future state architecture modeling enables you to unlock the power of quick and insightful analysis, no matter the size of your organization. It empowers you to deliver value faster and earlier in your Enterprise Architecture journey.

If you would like to learn about Ardoq’s approach to collaborative modeling, feel free to get in touch with us and ask us about our Scenarios tool.

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Jacqueline S. Jacqueline S. Jacqueline has spent her career in the IT industry building brands and contributing to the development of products that deliver exceptional value to the customer experience. She is a double agent who advocates for both our customers and for Ardoq.
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