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Architectural Thinking Framework

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In nine out of ten companies I worked as an EA, IT implementation projects were used as the key element used in strategic planning. Boards were used to budget and prioritize goals based on project status reports. They had to decide in to invest in project ‘ABZ’ or ‘Leo New’ (both quite cryptic names for them). Yes, project descriptions included some information about the functional scope of the projects, but these descriptions were hardly written in a way to assess the projects from the perspective of the business goals of the company.

SFAs solve this problem. They formulate fields of action in a management-compatible way, focusing on business goals and how they are addressed in implementation. Thus, they are the link between operational planning of projects and the architectural skeleton of the company. By connecting your top-down and operational-level measures, you build a coherent vision enablement process.

As shown in the following figure SFAs focus how your digital initiatives contribute to your vision and the strategic goals that have been derived from the vision. The viewpoint of the executive boards gets focused on strategic decisions rather than operative, on the project level.

SFAs can be assigned to any element of the architecture. They can replace old or require new technology components and typically have an impact on the application landscape.

For strategic planning, however, the traceability withvalue streams and capabilities is most important. When talking about an SFA, everybody must know which capabilities/value streams (as defined in the company wide maps) are affected.

The following figure shows how SFAs are connected with the architectural elements of the architecture model:

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