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Architecture Roadmaps, Journey Maps, Life Cycle Maps, Heat Maps - which to use and when?

As an Enterprise Architect I have to provide visualisations that are simple to absorb but are concise and powerful enough to put across 'a picture' of what I am trying to convey. On almost all occasions there is a requirement to put a map of some form together to complement what ever it is I have been asked.

The key question that frequently goes through my mind at this point is which type of map should I use and the answer is always linked to the original question for which I have undertaken the architectural piece of work in the first place. If you are unsure then ASK the sponsor and check the form of presentation they are looking for. For example, a roadmap is traditionally based on activities against a time line whereas a journey map doesn't care about time but indicates the steps or stages that might be within a given subject or process.

Let's take moving house as a scenario and you wanted to create a visualisation for this - the likelihood is that you would use a journey map for this that highlights all of the stages - finding the house, checking out schools & local facilities, stamp duty and tax band costs, raising finance, contacting an estate agent, instructing a solicitor, booking removal services, selling your existing property, the list is endless. However, it indicates ALL of the steps that you might need to undertake within the process but does not touch or when any of these events may need to take place - it could be over two months or two years, we don't really care about that.

In a roadmap though this highlights when an activity will be undertaken as it has a timeline on the axis. Roadmaps are great to articulate when activities are planned for - a Gantt chart in a project plan is a good roadmap example.

Heat maps are one of my favourites - especially when answering questions that begin with 'how are we supporting / spending money.....' on capability Y or subject X in the organisation. A recent piece of work our architecture team was asked to address was to identify where cost savings could be made in the short term. By using our business capability maps which show relationships to the business functions and also show relationships to the business applications that support them we could see that in the finance area there were some 17 applications being used for common functions.

Procurement office, company credit cards, personal expenses were all methods used to purchase things and each had a completely separate application, set of business processes and separate admin teams. Similarly, travel expenses and online booking system were completely disparate from each other and had their own operational and cost approaches. Use of a heat map allowed us to highlight the relevant business functions on an A4 sheet of paper and the application capabilities they provided - the overlap of capability showed that in one area we had four different applications performing almost identical work in four different parts of the organisation. By reducing this to one there was no loss of capability but we removed three applications including their admin and support costs, freed up the time of three FTE's for other duties and consolidated to one set of business processes. The cost saving was estimated at over £60K per annum and this was the tip of the iceberg.

Life Cycle maps are just wonderful things - again they use timelines along the horizontal axis but highlight for me when an object is being replaced or phased out, when a new version is being introduced, the phase that it is in (development, test, live, sunset or to be decommissioned). It also helps when identifying where you have multiple applications in the same or a similar space. For example. having a group heading such as Reporting and under this having a list of all the applications that perform this function can also act as a heat map to trigger a conversation of whether you need multiple applications or should be considering some form of rationalisation.

If anyone needs help with any of the above feel free to let me know.
If you have used different maps or have used the above differently then again, pipe up and share :)