In today’s ever-changing technology landscape, minimum viable enterprise architecture is an indispensable part of your go-to-market strategy. Minimum viable enterprise architecture also referred to as “just enough architecture” has emerged as an effective way to take your idea to the market quickly, gather feedback from your customer base and make changes accordingly – In this, the foundational elements of the product are architected first and then the architecture evolves continuously.
Minimum viable enterprise architecture has been quite successful in fulfilling the most critical functional and non-functional requirements of end-users, facilitating the release of an early version into the market. The ‘evolutionary approach’ towards designing architecture has also set the stage for many future transformations by providing a clear picture of the way forward, along with project milestones, and goals, enabling them to easily incorporate the requirements early on in your Software Development Life Cycle.
Roadmap for Implementing Minimum Viable Enterprise Architecture
Successful implementation of MVA (minimum viable architecture) is dependent on certain steps that must be fulfilled, to leverage the wide range of benefits it offers.
Identify Business Goals:
The first step towards implementing minimum viable architecture successfully is identifying the business goals and the roadmap for achieving the business objectives. This provides a clear picture and the right direction to move forward.
Map the Client/Customer Journey:
This is as important as setting a goal and involves defining the right target users for the product. Mapping the entire journey of the client or customer helps in understanding the requirements, challenges, problem areas or issues they are looking to fix.
Determine the Features:
It is important to clearly differentiate between the must-have features for the product and the good-to-have features at this juncture. The top priority will be the features directly addressing the pain points of the customers. Once you understand must-haves and should-haves, collaborate with your business to come up with the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – MVA helps in defining your MVP.
Define the KPIs and Metrics:
The next step in the process involves defining the KPIs that tie back to the business goals. It is also important to understand the metrics that must be considered to measure the success of the project.
Define the Development Methodology:
The next step is identifying the development methodology. It is a very crucial step since the development strategies involve understanding and defining the best practices related to your SDLC and your Business value stream.
Understand the Tech Stack:
The complex step in the process involves defining the tech stack (toolkits, libraries and programming language, etc.), as well as identifying the best cloud environments for optimal utilization of your workflows.
Decide the cloud environments:
Defining and choosing the right cloud environment and associated infrastructure has the potential to decide the outcome of the minimum viable enterprise architecture strategy. Consider the security and the scalability of the cloud environment that has to be used for developing the product. The cloud provider should be selected on factors such as security, multi-tenancy, configurability, SLAs, etc., to name a few.
Understand the impact of change:
A clear plan should include key stakeholder’s information such as their involvement in the development process and their ability to influence decision making. It is important to define the information required by each group upfront for clear visibility and to enable quick decisions. First, understand the impact this is going to have on your direct teams and in general for the broader organization.
Decide the minimum viable architecture model:
Once you make sure that all the steps are clearly defined and taken care of, it is important to determine the architectural pattern that can meet the requirements. This will help in meeting the project goals and getting the best possible results.
Apart from these steps, from a broader perspective, a minimum viable enterprise architecture needs to be aligned with strategic insights and long-term plans for better business outcomes as recommended by a few CIOs:
Stay Close to the Business and Stakeholders
To understand how minimum viable enterprise architecture can help the business, maintaining close communication with all stakeholders involved is important. The minimum viable enterprise architecture also drives acceptance across the board and necessary support for funding to continue EA (enterprise architecture) assessments since the needs of the business change with time.
The success of enterprise architecture is also based on how application quality and service outages affect your employee productivity. The insights and reports generated by the EA tool should describe the ecosystem’s interconnectivity as well as the system capabilities to identify any gaps across the portfolio. This also helps in smart decision-making by bringing actionable insights. Enterprise architecture establishes transparency by informing the business leaders about areas where the current spending is not aligned with the business strategy.
Cut the Red Tape
Minimum viable enterprise architecture practitioners recommend eliminating lengthy questionnaires and template-based interviews that don’t provide scope for user feedback or deliver essential information. It is ideal to choose simpler, smart, and iterative conversations with the business users rather than largely one-way processes. Instead of choosing one EA template, streamlining the EA process by choosing only relevant and precise questions makes a good difference.
It is important to emphasize the most essential questions which save the time required for architecture review and submission, making the whole process more effective. Automated compliance checking and self-service platforms can also add better value. It also helps to define crucial parameters like the number of transactions and the types of processes an application can support. Avoiding generic project plans and adopting a macro sequencing plan of different steps created around milestones can support a strong enterprise architecture strategy.
Creating the Right Scope
Adding too much to the scope while defining a minimum viable enterprise architecture project delays the outcomes and defeats the purpose of ‘Minimum Viable’, while narrowing it too much also won’t yield the desired results. Therefore, creating the right balance requires focus on problem areas or where the requirements change rapidly.
Minimum viable enterprise architecture scope involves minimum deliverables like reference models, viewpoints, and design patterns that are compliant and ensure timely delivery of products. Understanding the desired outcomes is more important than becoming lost in preparing unnecessary documentation. For a minimum viable enterprise architecture, it is important to consider everything right from the user interface to APIs instead of a single siloed service. The architecture should also be testable and be able to handle the maximum requirements of the system that it will eventually replace
Start at Some Point
Putting together a team from your talent pool, that includes people both from the leadership and the ground level, to assess overall platforms, standards, governance, and application design marks a key step towards developing a minimum viable enterprise architecture strategy. The creation of such a team signals the importance of minimum viable architecture to the entire organization and instills the right environment required for innovation and continuous delivery of value.
A minimum viable effort by simply ‘taking stock’, identifying any overspending patterns for certain applications and contracts will be the right way to start with. Ensuring that the right tools are used for the right job, with best practices and standardization can create a good impact leading to rapid innovation and better ROI.
Maintain the Standards
Applying design principles combined with a focus on the business needs will help to shorten the discussions on identifying the best solution with the correct standards.
Prioritizing agility has become more of a necessity, than just an option. Switching to an adaptive business model like MVA increases the rate of success for companies as they can prepare and quickly incorporate the perpetual state of change. It allows companies to ascertain whether their product will succeed before proposing the idea and therefore, it helps to present a strong business case, that demonstrates the market acceptability and validity of the product. Minimum viable architecture helps to achieve higher cost efficiency & responds to evolving technologies and customer requirements.