Tuesday, April 24, 2012

EA Heuristics #1: Looking for gaps? Push from top, guide from bottom.

A police helicopter.  Police helicopter helps police gets a big picture of the city, so that the police knows what to focus on.  The police still need to rely on people on the ground for details.  A situation similar to the heuristic described in this article.
photo credit: metropolitan police
(this article is part of the series "12 Heuristics for Enterprise Architecting")

When looking for gaps in the current stage architecture, a useful approach is start by “pushing from the top”—start with the enterprise’s strategic objectives, then use the objectives’ linkages with other views to assess if there are any gaps, and then gradually move down through views level by level.

It is important to start the search for gaps from the top, as gaps more closely related to enterprises’ strategic objectives would be uncovered first. This approach decreases the likelihood of missing important gaps or being distracted by less important ones.

While pushing from the top, it is useful to “guide from bottom”—use anecdotal evidence to focus the search for gaps. During our EA exercise, we gathered a number of pain points through conversations with the organization’s employees and reviewing customer satisfaction survey results. However, when we did the analysis by "pushing from the top", we were puzzled as we could not find those pain points. We analyzed the issue further, focusing on areas where the anecdotal pain points should have shown up, and finally realized that it was because there were missing metrics, and this discovery helped us uncover a second issue—the metrics were not granular enough.  If not for the knowledge of the pain points from “the bottom”, our “push from the top” analysis would have yielded nothing.

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