ARIS in Practice - IT Modernization Roadmaps

Issue 4, 2012 Download pdf

How does a strategic application portfolio impact the actual IT landscape? The process support map from the ARIS Solution for Enterprise Architecture makes it easier for enterprise architects to analyze the impacts and come to reliable decisions on IT investments that are aligned with IT strategy.

In my last article, “The Quadrant Approach to Application Portfolio Management” in TECHniques Issue 1 2012, I described how a quadrant approach can be used to support a sustainable modernization process of the application landscape. By categorizing applications into four different quadrants, we were able to provide an overview of the application landscape in terms of future applications and investments areas as well as applications which will be phased out in the future. As a result, we received a viewpoint on the application portfolio which actually documents the modernization strategy of the existing applications. Now the question is how these decisions impact the actual IT landscape and current roll-out plans. To demonstrate how ARIS is giving an answer to this question I would like to introduce a certain model type: the process support map.

The Process Support Map
The process support map is a matrix that describes how and where applications are used within the company and more important when they will be phased in or phased out. The column and row headers of the matrix can be described with different object types like business capabilities, processes, business services, and so on. However, the most used matrix describes which applications are used across organizations and locations and, at the same time, documents which processes are supported.

Figure 1: The Process Support Map

The column headers describe the supported processes and the row headers describe the organization structure. Applications are placed into corresponding cells. As shown in Figure 1, the “cross” means that there is no application support for this process at this organization/ location and the “hand” documents where a process is executed manually. Empty cells are gaps in the documentation and comments document exceptions and waivers.

The global, regional or local standards are documented within so called reference rows and the applications are marked with a blue frame. The roll-out status of the applications is documented through the color of the “traffic light” placed within the symbol of the application. Green means “phased-in”, yellow means “to be phased-in” and so on. The roll-out lifecycle is maintained per cell and application through an appropriate dialog.

This approach allows us to generate different viewpoints of the future. What does my landscape look like, for example, in three months or one year from now? 

In short: The process support map is a roll-out plan of applications. It documents the usage and transformation of the application landscape across the organization and the business processes.

Evaluating Application Portfolio Decisions
Now using the concept of a strategic application portfolio documented through quadrants means that I need to evaluate the impacts of my decisions in my portfolio on this existing roll out plan. This can easily be done within ARIS. Through a simple analysis feature, the frames of the applications will be colored according to their assignment in the portfolio. Thus the impact of a decision, for example, to move an application from the quadrant Standard to Replace is directly visible as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2:  Visualizing the impact of portfolio decisions with ARIS

Using a quadrant approach to build a template for the strategic transformation of the application portfolio is a great method, however analyzing the impacts of this template on the actual transformation plans of the IT landscape is key for making reliable decisions. The use of the ARIS Solution for Enterprise Architecture supports this crucial analysis with appropriate capabilities and thus makes it easier for the enterprise architect to decide on IT investments aligned with IT strategy.