The world is changing. Unlike in the past, companies today can no longer plan years ahead. The rule of thumb is – the broader the planning horizon, the greater the uncertainties. This is where the agility of OKR (Objectives and Key Results) comes into play.
OKR stands for Objective and Key Results and is an agile framework for the definition of objectives, designed to define and pursue objectives more efficiently. The concept not only promotes employee commitment through the possibility of self-organization, but also objective orientation through regular evaluations of results and aims to improve visibility and transparency.
In this blog post, we show you, based on an example, how the agile framework, OKR, and the Enterprise Architecture (EA) standard, ArchiMate, allow you to master EA transformations in an agile way.
Our Case Study
The progressive development of electric drive technologies and battery systems has opened up a new business model for the fictitious energy supplier GreenEnergy: eMobility. In this context GreenEnergy is planning a partnership with the eRoaming specialist, Plug & Charge.
Plug & Charge enables eDrivers to charge their vehicles in a user-friendly way. This takes place without administrative effort, i.e. “plug and charge” (cable). Billing is conveniently done via the electricity bill. Automatic authentication and authorization at the charging station makes prior registration (e.g. RFID card systems, credit cards, and mobile apps) obsolete. The customer experience is massively increased, thereby boosting the demand.
With the decision to introduce the new model, a decision about the future architecture of the company is made at the same time. When implementing and providing the required capabilities, business processes are adapted by GreenEnergy, new systems are introduced, information flows and interfaces are adapted and the “digital” capability “plug in and load” is provided.
The OKR & ArchiMate Approach Applied
The introduction of this new sales channel is based on an agile approach. For the time being, the focus will be on early customer feedback. Only in the later phases will the focus be on the technical infrastructure. Central to each phase (or cycle) of the project are the “Objectives & Key Results” (OKR), which will generate a measurable added value for GreenEnergy and its customers (Note: Basics of OKR are not discussed further here, please contact us for more information).
At the end of an OKR cycle there is a target state, in ArchiMate, “plateaus”. Objectives can be represented in ArchiMate by Goals, Key Results by Outcomes.
The first cycle (Plateau 1) is formulated in OKR Planning. For each OKR set, the responsible teams must make a commitment. Our first cycle includes subsequent OKRs.
In Archimate, the Objectives included in an OKR cycle can be represented by Goals, and the Key Results can be represented by Outcomes. At the end of an OKR cycle there is a target state, called “plateaus”. The first cycle (Plateau 1) is formulated in the OKR planning. For each OKR set, the responsible teams must make a commitment. Our first cycle includes the following set of OKRs:
Test customers charge their car via Plug & Charge service.
Key Results (Excerpt)
- The interim process for the semi-automatic data transfer of accounting data is introduced.
- A prototype is provided for 10 selected stations.
- The Plug & Charge prototype is available for 30 test customers.
Further Planning Cycles/Plateaus
The OKR sets for the further plateaus are defined at the beginning of each new cycle in the planning process when the findings from the previous cycle are available (keywords: “review”, “retro”; in practice the cycles slightly overlap).
In further plateaus, the roadmap maps out initial rough ideas that need to be adjusted or reformulated after each cycle.
The view below shows the roadmap, in an ArchiMate view, visualized in the EA tool ADOIT that is commonly used in architecture management. In OKR planning, the OKRs for the company, divisions and teams are adjusted for the current cycle. The current OKRs are aimed at reaching the next plateau.
Example of an OKR roadmap in the EA suite ADOIT
Key results can be implemented in the OKR team depending on the preferred approach (e.g. Scrum, Kanban etc.) as OKR does not make any specifications in this regard. We assign exemplary to one of the Key Results sprints (i.e. work packages). With the realization of the Key Results or Sprints, elements of the enterprise architecture are introduced, modified or replaced:
- The business process, “Billing eCharging services”, is defined within the sprint, “eCharging billing processes”.
- The necessary adjustments to the “Settlement Platform” settlement platform, for the manual import of the settlement data, is made in the sprint “eCharging Enablement”, etc.
- Risks arise from the partial automation and media discontinuities, “Settlement errors due to incorrect data transfer” and “Delayed settlement”. These are mapped in ArchiMate as assessments. The risks are accepted for Plateau 1. Before implementing Plateau 2, they must be evaluated again regarding their effects.
- Depending on their importance, the risks are addressed either directly in Plateau 2 or in one of the subsequent plateaus.
Small iterations instead of a large master plan
Instead of setting long-term, big goals, we concentrate on short-term planning and implementation intervals. Plateau 2 is not yet being modeled in detail. This allows us to react flexibly to the findings from the previous Plateau. Key results and sprints are therefore not yet defined.
Small iterations instead of a large master Outcome-Driven Architecture: OKRs as a mandatory part of the transformation roadmap
The aggregated progress of the Key Results reflects the overall progress in relation to the associated objective. For each Key Result, the confidence level is also continuously assessed. The Confidence Level reflects how likely it is that a Key Result can actually be achieved in the current cycle.
In the subsequent transformation cockpit, in addition to the OKRs, the architecture-relevant aspects are communicated in a way that is relevant to all stakeholder groups (end customer, product owner, scrum master, enterprise architect, etc.).
Example of an OKR assessment in the EA suite ADOIT
The underlying case study shows how agility and EA can go hand-in-hand by applying the OKR concept with ArchiMate. The architectural challenge was addressed by allocating OKRs from the agile world of architecture platforms, which are used to build the roadmap step-by-step.
If you want to get an idea of how this can work in practice, register for our free EA tool and apply the OKR and Archimate approach yourself. Or download the free Archimate poster, providing an overview and explanation of all Archimate symbols.