Future State Architecture

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Ricardo Salinas Pliego: “Sometimes big problems are best solved with lots of small and creative solutions.”

Problem – Need a Feasible Solution to a Problem Worth Solving

During the discovery phase of a project, you need to hypothesize a feasible solution to a problem worth solving. Future State ArchitecureThis requires an understanding of the solutions that are possible and an understanding of the constraints of each possible solution. However, it is difficult to document a detailed solution design if you do not yet have a project team during discovery. One alternative is to document a high-level representation of the proposed solution that illustrates all key components of the solution and how they interact. This is the future state architecture and is sufficient for a high level assessment of feasibility and constraints. It can also inform SWAGs for your project’s costs and timeline which are key elements of any project funding request.

Ideal State – Future State Architecture

The ideal state prior to receiving project funding is a clear understanding of the problem worth solving, an estimate of the value to be delivered and a high level, future state architecture that identifies impacted processes, teams and systems as well as the technical constraints.

Root Cause that Drives the Need for a Future State Architecture

You need a project team to develop a cost estimate for your project bFuture State Architectureut you need a cost estimate for your project to acquire funding for your project team. A high level future state architecture can help resolve this conundrum. In fact, one purpose of the lean project startup process is to develop a high level vision, a problem worth solving, an estimate of the project’s value, a high level solution, the cost estimate, a list of constraints and a high level timeline before you have access to the full project team.

Context – Future State Architecture

The context for the future state architecture is that you have developed a vision for your proposed project and that vision is linked to a strategic objective. From your vision, you have derived a set of organizational challenges or business opportunities that you have converted into a high priority problem worth solving. You have hypothesized a solution to this problem and quantified the potential benefits. You have even specified the metrics that you will use to quantify the value that your project will deliver.

Future State Architecture

However, you need to know whether your proposed solution is feasible. You also need to estimate costs and understand how much of the potential value can be captured by your solution given its constraints. In addition, you need an indication of the timeframe to design, build and implement the solution and an estimated allocation for each member of the project team.

Development of your future state architecture will reveal the key components of your solution. It will enable you to identify the impacted systems, processes and teams. This will help you assess feasibility and constraints. The constraints of the solution will help you estimate the percentage of the project’s potential value that your proposed solution can capture. The future state architecture will also help you develop an order of magnitude budget and timeline. This budget should include costs for the project team and for all other impacted teams, suppliers, technologies, licenses and any other projected costs.

Solution – Future State Architecture

Bill Gates: “I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act.”

You can use a context diagram to represent the future state architecture during the discovery phase of your project. A typical context diagram for an IT project, depicts the main system and its relationship with other entities, such as other systems and users. It clarifies the interfaces, boundaries and technical scope of the solution.

A context diagram is appropriate during the discovery phase of your project because technical knowledge is not required to understand it. It will therefore help align the understanding of a wide audience, including non technical stakeholders, project leaders, prospective project team members, and support teams. It will help elicit feedback from project stakeholders and identify any missing components while the project is still in the discovery stage. The future state architecture also helps the team think through the scope and context of the solution in a methodical manner.

A typical context diagram includes processes, entities and data flows. A process transforms, stores or distributes data. An entity is a person or system that triggers a process or receives output from a process. A data flow is an arrow that illustrates information transmitted between processes and entities. The context diagram focuses attention on external factors and events that should be considered when developing a complete set of system requirements and constraints.

Future State Architecture

In the simple example illustrated, an origination system is required to submit a credit card application. A processing system is required to apply the business rules required to render a decision. A “system of record” is required to access information about the applicant. The information about the applicant is used by the business rules to decision the application. This sample context diagram helps identify the people, processes and systems involved in the project. The proposed new solution will determine project features, constraints, timelines, costs and the percentage of the project’s potential value that can be captured.

Your Feedback

Enter your comments below so we can update this post and provide better solutions for the community. Also, if you have created any project management tools or templates that you would like to contribute for communal use then please send each one, with a brief description, to PMTools@LeanProjectPlaybook.com.

Business Opportunity

Future State ArchitectureThere is an opportunity to systematize the lean startup process for projects. Let us know if you would like to collaborate as a part of our community to transform these opportunities into an easy-to-use solution that will help assure project value and improve project failure rates.

Alternatively, if your company is willing to contribute some of your time to help specify a solution to meet their specific needs then they will receive free licensing for an agreed period of time. Each project requires a project manager, an architect, a business analyst, a developer and a QA lead.

Simple Life Lesson

Future State Architecture

Bottom line, I removed myself from the victim mentality and took control of my life. I’m not just going to take responsibility for the success in my life – I’m going to take responsibility for the failures in my life. When you’re willing to accept that you’re the problem, you immediately become the solution.”  Eric D. Thomas

I’m that person who says, ‘No matter what the problem is, there’s a solution.’ That’s the way my brain is wired. If someone says to me, ‘Well, that’s not possible. It can’t happen,’ I say, ‘Yes it is. I’m going to sit here and show you that it can.’  Miranda Kerr

Future State Architecture

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