Enterprise Architecture and Wardley Maps

16 July 2016

I had an interesting conversation recently about the use of Wardley maps as part of an Enterprise Architecture and Digital Transformation programme recently. I had looked at using Wardley maps some time ago but now I think it is a good time to incorporate their use into normal Enterprise Architecture/ Business Architecture work. They are a very useful addition to the bag of techniques and approaches that I recommend should be used by Enterprise Architects working on the Strategy and Business Architecture domains as well as for the IT architecture domains.

Wardley Maps are useful for understanding the dynamics of what is needed to support a user’s needs. The underlying dependencies between user needs are constantly evolving and many organisations do not recognise this when they come up with a dry list of Business Strategies, Goals and Objectives using a Business Motivation Model. A Wardley map makes strategies much clearer and contributes towards better situational awareness which is critical.

When asked about their strategy the CxOs often simply mention similar lists of ideas that they see other organisations talking about and copy. Often they don’t really understand the buzz words. For instance, what does ‘Digital’ really mean? Is doing Digital sufficient to claim an innovative advantage in the blue ocean? A situational Awareness map will help visualise the buzzwords and their relative importance. It will also allow the organisation to better understand where it can gain an advantage.

Wardley maps help to position the user needs and dependencies in a continuum from the genesis of an idea through to the commoditisation of the same idea, at the same time as creating a value chain as a directed graph and not just as a high level list of business functions.  The Wardley map combines the Value chain view with an Evolution and dependency view which helps to identify where the strategies (Both Business and IT) should attack to produce a competitive advantage.

Upstream of Wardley maps, User needs can be identified from modelling Business Scenarios and Customer Journeys. It will be very likely that multiple Wardley maps will be needed.

The dependencies between user needs is similar to the dependencies that can be identified between Business Capabilities. Also the provision of Value to a customer is also the outcome of a Business capability. I can easily see a mapping between a grouping of Business Capabilities or groupings of dependencies between Business Capabilities and a a set of Wardley Maps.

Capability Increments can map to groupings within a Wardley map and dependencies between User needs can be associated with dependencies between Capability Increments.

These complementary techniques will reinforce each other and ensure the resulting EA Roadmap of Initiatives and subsequent Project roadmaps will be well designed and stay meaningful and relevant.

Obviously it is important to remember that the evolutions of user needs identified in a Wardley map are dynamic and the resulting EA roadmaps also need to be constantly kept under review, as business and IT trends evolve.

The best strategy is one that can help identify where to attack when things change.

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