Operations Strategy

Operations Strategy: How roadmaps can be used to mobilize an enterprise in moving forward towards executing on the Enterprise Architecture. Apple’s launch at MacWorld 2008 of the enhanced Google Maps feature for its iPod and iPhone and the tremendous growth of in-car GPS system has spelled the death knell of paper-based maps for mobile users. Satellites can now pinpoint your exact location in real-time and provide multiple types of roadmaps to your ultimate destination, with a few preferred stops along the way. Benefits derived from this application are obvious; save time, worry and minimize your chances of getting lost along the way.


Now think of your enterprise as a fast-moving moving vehicle heading to an ultimate destination. You’re not sure where you are and unclear how to get to your endpoint but you’ve spent the energy to develop Enterprise Architecture blueprints which represent your vision of the company. Just like the busy executive who’s just landed in an unfamiliar city driving to a meeting from the airport, roadmaps are essential to help clarify, link, communicate and execute strategic plans. Roadmaps are consensus views by an organization on how to get to where they want to go or achieve desired objectives. They ensure that capabilities to achieve the objectives are in place at the time needed. The act of creating roadmaps is a learning process for teams and primarily a communication tool for the business.


Operations Strategy: Dimension of Time


The dimension of time is inherent in roadmaps and the first order of business should be to perform a current-state assessment of the business. Specifically in the context of this white paper, what is the current Enterprise Architecture, assuming one exists. Taking stock of where the business sits today for each view establishes an anchor in time that will help to determine at what cost, planning horizon and effort are required to go from point A to point B to point C and so on. Similar to iPhone roadmaps that can present street, satellite or hybrid views, unique enterprise roadmaps can be created for specific purposes. For example, there are four types that I’ve used with clients that typically cover 3-year timelines:


1. Market Drivers and Challenges Roadmap: Market facing perspectives that highlight the top 5 to 10 drivers affecting the enterprise and the challenges faced by either the industry or customers  in meeting these demands


2. Product/Service/Application Drivers Roadmap: Given the current state of the enterprise product/service/application portfolios, in which directions do the market drivers push/pull the products, services and applications in their lifecycles


3. Product/Service/Application Features Roadmap: Understanding the needs of the market, the capabilities of the enterprise and competitive positioning, which features will the business invest in and provide the opportunity to achieve its goals and objectives


4. Technology Roadmap: This roadmap identifies the technologies that will enable the product, services or applications to reach the feature and functional capabilities at each of the yearly milestones. Areas of focus could be application development, integration, tools, usability, standards, performance and certifications. Other roadmaps are available but these examples are sufficient to show that one of the key steps in executing strategy is to develop time-based roadmaps. Roadmaps are deliverables in any planning process as they marshal the collective wisdom of senior management teams and bring in place communication tools for enterprise folks who want to know where they are heading and how to get there. The ability to implement roadmap deliverables is where many enterprises have stumbled and my next topic will touch upon best practices and ideas for Program Management.