The Core Engagment Model focuses on a minimum number of artifacts.
The Business Case
A business case captures the reasoning for initiating a project and what value the project should provide. Architects should verify the value of the technology, add strategy, and make sure the solution fits the governance model, existing portfolio, and can be supported by the Operations group. They can also add value by initiating business cases for projects they feel will add business value. Business valuation, compliance, and decision support skills will help during this phase.
As a consulting architect, you typically do not have visibility into this phase of projects, but you still should know what is expected and what the output of this phase is. By gaining status as trusted advisor and having business skills, you will be sought out to provide input earlier in the lifecycle of a project.
Thereby allowing you to have greater business impact. Some things to consider:
- What is the business need?
- What approaches should be considered?
As you are adding technical strategy don’t let others trivialize the complexity. For instance, in a B2B solution all we have to do is connect two systems. How hard can that be? Try to identify the areas where you expect push-back or adoption issues, especially as related to re-use. Many teams will want to build a brand new system rather than taking a buy or reuse strategy.
The Generic Business Case Template
The Gaming business line represents 68% of Tinkleman’s overall revenue. Two of our top customers and several of the smaller customers are complaining that our inability to change orders once they are submitted is causing them to think about shifting to another vendor. They have requested they be able to change the shipping method they selected as well as the size of the order, and in most cases they want to update to a larger order.
If we can make a few minor changes to our purchasing system then Tinkleman will be able to increase sales through order being increased and opening the possibility of gaining new clients since we are offering a better solution than our competitors.
The primary complaint our clients have is around not being able to change these two portions of an order and we should increase customer satisfaction by removing these two critical areas of complaint.
This is a minor change to the interface so the anticipated outcomes are that with minimal cost, and minimal impact to our systems, Tinkleman will be able to provide additional customer satisfaction and have the potential to increase revenues by increasing the size of orders and potentially adding new clients.
Make minor adjustment modifications to the existing solution if possible.
The Strategic Investment Worksheet
As an architect you can used a weighted scale to further prioritize projects. Consider adding a column for importance to the organization for each of the projects. For instance;
- Will the project provide competitive advantage?
- Catch your organization up with the competition?
- Is it needed to protect an existing revenue stream that the company is reliant of to stay afloat?
- Add a column for ROI and calculate each, along with competitive ranking, project complexity, and any compliance or governance flags?
Including this information in portfolio planning and project prioritization will provide much stronger alignment with the business goals and objective of the organization. As a consulting architect, you may not be included in this process, but if you are aware of the planning cycles in the organizations you engage with, you can provide thins data to help solidify your role as a trusted advisor.
By using your knowledge of complexity, importance, value, and business priority you can determine which should come first and work to help others understand your reasoning. Using a scorecard approach to surface information can help as you initiate these conversations.
The Architectural Requirements/Stories/Epics
While the business analysts capture business requirements you must make sure that the intent of the architecture and the business goals of the solution are met. As the project team starts to take a direction that strays from the existing governance model, has financial impact beyond a defined threshold, or limits the value the solution can provide you must step in and influence the team.
Architects must elicit requirements and constraints that impact:
- Architecture cost estimates at the level defined in the engagement model (e.g. all components that cost more than $50,000)
- Strategically relevant components (reuse, standardization, revenue creation)
- Relevant quality attributes
- Political weight and usefulness of the architecture team with the stakeholders
The engagement model defines the level of component that is relevant to architects
- A for-loop is generally not relevant
- A $250,000/yr application server generally is
Early project involvement is key to generating stakeholder good will and communication. Solving problems for the “right” stakeholder creates opportunities for their buy in.
The Generic/Product Specific Architecture
From a blank slate to a set of requirements is a challenge. Taking the requirements and modeling a solution that satisfies the requirements only and provides the greatest flexibility to expand or modify later is even more challenging.
The Views and Perspectives
Views and perspectives are primarily used in the Core Engagement as thinking and communication vehicles. We primarily recommend the use of Eoin Woods and Nick Rozanski’s viewpoints from their book, Software Systems Architecture, which covers thinking and communication patterns for the most important aspects. The Core Engagement Model uses the generic and product specific architecture pages as the ‘Context View’.