Mastercard: Agile Business Architecture – Bringing Agile to the Whole Organization

DevOps only accelerates one part of a business, software engineering.

It doesn’t speed up how quickly sales teams can turn around proposals to new clients or reduce wait times for Healthcare teams.

But it can. The same working practices can be generalized and applied to any organizational team for the same benefits, an effect HBR calls ‘Bringing Agile to the Whole Organization‘, and that Mastercard offers repeatable best practices for.

As the title captures the core purpose is to generalize the specific working practices of software developers, and reuse them across the entire organization, not just IT. It asks the question how can the overall enterprise become more agile, by widespread adoption of enterprise best practices for collaboration and product delivery.

Agile Business Architecture

Mastercard offers a set of presentations defining Agile Business Architecture, repeatable best practices that can be used to deliver this heightened high performance.

  1. Agile Business Architecture – Experiences Linking Business Architecture with an Agile/Lean Method.
  2. Business Driven Roadmaps – Managing the work through feature release planning roadmaps.
  3. Architecture-Driven Investments – Central governance based on Enterprise Architecture standards.

BA User Stories

The first presentation describes the central premise, expanding User Stories to add Business Architecture context.

User Stories are the lifeblood of product and software development, and form the base unit of work for an Agile process.

They can be written in a simple form on paper notes, through to being described as complex UML diagrams.

Roman Pichler provides a 10 tips guide for how to write them, and vendor tools can assist greatly with the process. For example Visual Paradigm offers this introductory article – How to Write Effective Use Cases. They also explain How to Map Business Processes to User Stories, and their product can be used for:

  • Creation of stories as UML use cases
  • Storyboard and team collaboration
  • Easily produce a report detailing their Technical Requirements

BA ‘Fragments’

Mastercard describes their use of standard agile practices, how their headline ‘Product Vision’ feeds the Product Backlog which in turn is fed into Sprints of 24hr and 1-4 week cycles, and how these are then augmented with what they call ‘fragments of Business Architecture’, with the slides below highlighting how they:

1) Encompass UI design elements, like web site widgets and updates.

2) Describes each fragment as a component piece of the overall Business Architecture, linking them to Capabilities like ‘Campaign Management’.

3) Integrates these Capabilities into an overall Solution Architecture.

4) Organizes them all into a Features Backlog, applying an indexing references to each requirement. Mastercard uses examples like AE-79: Develop process to manage servers.

Daniel Lambert also provides an excellent article exploring this approach highlighting:

  • A new business process can be defined as a BA User Story such that it models all of the impacted Capabilities, and thus involve the related teams in the transformation.
  • Business Architecture enables clearer requirements definition and validation, framing them based on business strategies.
  • The approach avoids requirement duplications across business units and departments.

Business Driven Roadmaps

The second and third presentations are ideally considered together, offering a closed loop to link feature development right back up through the highest levels of investment decision making.

Projects are managed through ‘Business Driven Roadmaps‘, enabling an overall Architecture-Driven Investment Planning approach.

It takes inputs of Business Strategy and Goals, and market Trends, and updates and outputs a Business Driven Roadmap which details Strategic Initiatives with Priorities, Dependencies, Features and Budget Estimates.This is populated by a lifecycle of activities including:

  • Analyze Strategies and Trends
  • Capture Business Architecture changes
  • Map Business Architecture changes to Solution Architecture changes

Solution Lifecycle Model

This planning framework is complimented by a lifecycle design process that incorporates Business Architecture, Solution Architecture and Technical Architectures, so roadmap planning is mapped to each level accordingly.

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