Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

2016 has been a good year

So much has happened over the last year with our Enterprise Architecture practice that it's hard to write a succinct summary.  For my day-to-day experience as enterprise architect, the biggest change is that I now have a team to work with.  This time last year, I was in the middle of a 12-month secondment to create the EA practice, working mainly on my own.  Now my post has been made permanent and I have recruited two members of staff to help meet the University's architectural needs.

I have spent a lot of the year meeting people, listening to their concerns and explaining how architecture can help them.  This communication remains vital, the absolute core of what we do and we will continue to meet people in this way.  We also talk to people in other Universities in order to learn from what they are doing and to share our own experience back.  A highlight in this regard was my trip to the USA last January.

Our biggest deliverable for the past year was the design of the data wa…

A new EA Repository

One of my goals since starting this job two years ago has always been to create a repository for architecture documents.  The idea is to have a central store where people can find information about the University's applications, data sources, business processes, and other architectural information.  This store will make it easier for us to explain our plans, to show the current state of the University's information systems, and to explain what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

It's taken a long time to reach this goal, mainly because we're often had more pressing and immediate work to be done.  The creation of a repository is one of those tasks that is very important but never quite urgent.  So I'm now very happy to say that we are in the process of deploying a repository and modelling tool.

This is the culmination of a careful process to select the most appropriate tool for our needs.  We began by organising several workshops to gather requirements from a rang…

New staff for the EA team

I'm delighted to welcome Jason Murphy, who joins us as our CRM Architect, and Wilbert Kraan, our new Data Architect.  Both Jason and Wilbert have worked as consultants for several years and bring new skills and considerable experience to IS.  They both know more than I do about their respective fields, which is how I like to hire people.

So the Enterprise Architecture practice now comprises the three of us, instead of me working on my won, which means we have more capacty to guide the University's IT architecture.  We can offer a greater range of skills and can bring a wider range of experience to bear.  I'm really excited about the opportunities this presents.

As his job title implies, Jason will focus on contact relationship management, working to build a user community and to create a strategy for managing and improving the University's relationships with prospective students, research partners, community organisations, and other parties - to give them all a better …