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EA: Gap Analysis
About this Resource
On the surface, gap analysis is a simple technique used in EA, primarily to examine the differences between one architecture state and another. But there are many ways to consider gap analysis and many techniques that can be combined with gap analysis to make it effective. Additionally, gap analysis in EA should be much more than a simple “spot the difference” game between the current and target states. This eBook provides an overview of the main points that you may want to address for effective EA gap analysis.
What Comes First?
The general practice in gap analysis suggests that you start by looking at the current state and move on to what you need in the future state. While this may work for gap analysis in some business situations, the situation with EA is slightly different.
In some cases, unless we know the desired architecture state we won’t know what is wrong with the current state! For example, one company was driven by a desire to standardize its technology stacks. Once they had a clear statement of this policy, and defined options for standard platforms, they were able to go back to the current state from a business architecture perspective and identify any concerns and complications from the proposed technical changes. In this case definition of the future technology architecture preceded analysis of the current business architecture.
Oh, and then there are intermediate or transition states! Again, widespread practice suggests that each transition state is produced through sequential or linear analysis, based on a chronological time line. But if you are dealing with a major EA transformation it may make sense to pick a mid-point between the current and target states, followed by further mid-points until the full sequence emerges. An organization making the significant switch from a “bricks and mortar” business model to a “bricks and clicks” model might plan this as a five year change; it might be easier to define the two year transition state, followed by the 12 month and six month transition states, rather than start with the six month state and work forwards.
As a general rule: expect to work back-and-forth between the various states and the gaps between them in order to develop a coherent EA roadmap. The following diagram illustrates the typical process of gap analysis, and emphasizes this iteration between states and gaps. It also highlights the overall need to include feedback at the end of each major change to make sure that the overall process follows a clear strategic vector.
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