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What Is An Enterprise Architecture Kanban Board?

by Zak Cole       • May 14, 2020

Collaboration is vital to enterprise architecture, and one of the ways to facilitate collaboration is through an enterprise architecture Kanban board. It is an ideal way to manage and track work in progress.

Ultimately, the goal of an enterprise architecture initiative is to provide the organization with a complete view of the enterprise, its assets and functions.

A thorough approach to this requires input from the wider business and an enterprise architecture Kanban board can do just that.

A Brief History of Kanban Boards

Kanban boards are based on the concept of Kanban, a tool to visualize, organize and complete work.

In short, they are the visual storyboard for a process or workflow. They represent the journey and the concepts within that journey. Concepts are represented as cards on the board. Concepts may be moved from one stage to another by dragging a concept.

The first official use of Kanban can be traced back to Taiichi Ohno’s work at Toyota. He needed a way to quickly communicate to all workers how much work was being done, what state it was in, and how the work was progressing.

His goal was to make information and processes transparent to everybody and not just the management team – starting to see the relevance to enterprise architecture?

Kanban boards allow users to show the journey of concepts through your processes, improving visibility for the whole team.

Kanban Board Stages and Limits

A Kanban board is composed of stages. Stages are the placeholders for status of work and contain concepts. Depending upon the Kanban board that you are using, different types  of concepts may be present on a stage.

Each stage may be defined with a limit. A limit provides a maximum count for the number of concepts that can exist on a stage at any one time. This prevents a stage from being overloaded with too much work.

The use of stages also allows the Kanban process to be streamlined. The use of limits in various stages can force concepts along a pipeline and ensure that current work is complete before more work is added to a stage. Usually Kanban boards have administrators that may define the stages and limits on a Kanban.

Kanban Board Examples

Following are some examples of Kanban boards:

Innovation Management: Provides a journey through innovation management

Ideas Roadmap: Provides a roadmap by quarter of where ideas are likely to be released

Ideas Management: Provides a journey of the status of ideas on a simple task board

Requirements Management: Visualizes requirements over a development Kanban

Feature Management: Shows where a set of features are in the development process

Skills Management: Provides a view of what skills training is required to be planned

There is no dedicated “enterprise architecture Kanban board,” so they are completely customizable. Therefore, an “enterprise architecture Kanban board” describes a Kanban board used within the context of EA.

Agile Enterprise Architecture & Kanban Boards

Kanban derives from the just-in-time manufacturing methods that revolutionized manufacturing by focusing on what is needed to achieve a particular result and integrating the supply chain to maximize production.

In the agile enterprise architecture approach the production line is our contextual architecture for a particular change program or project and our supply chain in the myriad group of SMEs, partners, suppliers and the overall EA model.

It’s by connecting these parts that we can produce accurate, relevant, verified models to support the project teams that will implement the changes within the organization.

The agile EA approach places Kanban at the heart of managing the change context model and provides a clear focus on which elements of the architecture are needed in a particular context and provides direct connection to the wider stakeholders for collaboration.

When adopting an agile approach to EA, Kanbans provide a great way to move work forward at ease to achieve an end goal or objective. Kanban boards provide a “work- in- progress” view of EA concepts.

They provide an ideal way to track the visibility and status of our work in progress and provide a visual set of stages. Each stage contains a set of ‘cards’ that represent concepts.

Enterprise architecture kanban

For example, a card could be an idea, business capability or an application component. Each stage is identified by a name and a description of the stage. There are many different ways of defining a Kanban board. A typical board has the stages – Parked, To Do, Doing and Done.

However, most companies tailor the Kanban to suit their own environment and projects.

Kanban boards can also have visual indicators on the concepts (cards) such as colors to indicate status of different attributes.

In the example above, tags are shown as different colors on concepts, where they are tagged or categorized for an organization. This helps identify status of the cards on the Kanban and helps decide which we should focus on.

Agility and Collaboration

But as with enterprise architecture more broadly, the temptation to deploy make-shift Kanban boards for less mature enterprises is strong.

However, such approaches are unscalable, and will quickly have a detrimental effect on an organization’s scope to operate with agility and collaborate.

Organizations that recognize the need for greater agility and collaboration in their enterprise architecture initiatives must employ an enterprise architecture tool that facilitates such an approach, like erwin Evolve.

As well as the ability to create, manage and collaborate on Kanban boards, erwin Evolve provides these core capabilities to help EA programs succeed:

  • Flexible Configuration: On-premise or cloud-hosted with a customizable metamodel and adjustable user interface with user-defined views
  • Enterprise Models: Creation and visualization of complex models for strategy, processes, applications, technologies and data
  • Central Repository: Captures all relevant EA data, supporting thousands of users in central or decentralized environments with access from anywhere and automatic mass updates
  • Collaborative Web Platform: User friendly and business-centric to capture and edit data with surveys and other social features to promote communication between IT and business users
  • Reporting: Diagrams, dashboards, workflows and “what-if” analysis
  • Professional Services: Expertise to help maximize ROI, as well as provide custom develop

You can even try erwin Evolve for yourself – for free – and keep any content you produce should you decide to buy.

enterprise architecture innovation management

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