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Michigan Enterprise Strategic Assessments

Today I visited the EA team at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.   One of the things they showed me was their template for IT services to document their strategic plans.  These are called MESAs, which stands for Michigan Enterprise Strategic Assessment.  The name was adopted to fit the shape of the headline diagram in the template, which looks like this example:

Components of the service are placed along the curve to reflect their position in the life-cycle at UMich.  As the deployment of a technology or other service component becomes more mature, it moves along the curve from left to right.  The vertical axis shows when the component is in wide use.  The curve is the same for all services – it is like the Gartner hype curve rather than a graph of specific values.  The icon for each component shows whether a component is recommended or deprecated, with more recent versions of the chart also including an icon for components which are being evaluated.

As with Core Diagrams, and several other EA techniques, the value of the technique lies as much in the conversation as in the final deliverable.  It provides a focus for service groups to reflect on the strategy for their service.  The diagram also provides an easy way for other people to see the maturity of each service. 

The full MESA report for a service includes a second chart for a 3-year lookahead, a one-page summary of the strategy, and one page describing each service component, including why the component has been assigned the status shown on the chart.  The report may also include a TIME diagram.  The full report for the example shown above can be seen at .

UMich have a wiki page that shows all the 39 MESA charts they have developed so far.  These cover about half of the 37 services in their service catalogue.  Some services have found the technique so useful that they have produced multiple charts for different aspects of the service.  The central wiki page gives a quick overview of the strategic plans for each service.


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