A flying start with BlueDolphin

When you start working with or optimizing Enterprise Architecture, the team, tooling and governance are of critical importance. The team can never be successful without good tooling, and good tooling will never be successful without clear-cut agreements. When you start working with ValueBlue and our product BlueDolphin, we help you realize the specified goals in order to implement the architecture successfully. We don’t call it BlueDolphin out of the blue, we swim together! To create the best possible return and real added value with BlueDolphin, a BlueDolphin process always kicks off with an implementation that has been tailored to the organization. Martien Noorloos, Business Consultant at ValueBlue and responsible for the content of the standard implementation, tells us what this entails and why it is important.

Having realized more than 100 implementations for different customers, ValueBlue has all the knowledge and experience required to start architecture with a new tool. We learned a number of useful lessons in the process. And we noticed that successful implementations have certain similarities. One of the most important lessons was that it is crucial to have a clear focus during the implementation. Organizations at which we could hold the five implementation days over a relatively short period were quickly able to continue using BlueDolphin on their own. By contrast, in organizations that spread out the implementation over several months we saw that, over time, people’s knowledge of the basic operations partly disappeared and agreements were deferred. As a result, development had come to a standstill and we actually had to start from scratch each time.

They can get started within five working days

Based on these experiences, we developed a standardized and efficient implementation in which the customer’s goals are mapped out with the architecture within a short time. Then, based on these goals and the maturity level of the customer, a customized BlueDolphin environment can be quickly and efficiently supplied to the customer, including appropriate training for the users and help in setting up the governance framework so that the information can be kept up to date. This standardized implementation approach requires five days’ supervision from ValueBlue, preferably within the space of two weeks.

The implementation process always starts with an Architecture Capability Maturity Assessment (ACMA). Before we meet for the first time for the kick-off session, we ask everyone taking part in this kick-off to complete an online questionnaire. The questionnaire focuses on how various architectural concepts are currently viewed in the organization. We use the results of the online survey as the basis for a discussion about working together in the organization and in the field of architecture during the kick-off session. What are the goals of architecture and what do we as an organization want to spend and not spend our time on? At the same time, the ACMA serves as a starting point for the ValueBlue consultant to discuss the points of focus and priorities for architecture documentation and governance at the level of the customer.

Logging on and practicing on their issues

Then the kick-off starts and the transition from purchase to implementation begins. During this session, both the account manager and the consultant who is supervising the implementation process from ValueBlue are present as key stakeholders from the customer organization. With this team, we now have all the parties in place and we can efficiently discuss what we want to achieve with BlueDolphin, which aspects have already been arranged and where improvements can still be made. The day starts with a demo and inspiration session so that everyone involved is aware of all the possibilities, and then we work in a structured way on a roadmap with our objectives for the weeks to come.

On day two, we jointly create an appropriate convention model with the requisite objects, relationships and attributes to support the objectives. In this model, the business case is translated into what needs to be recorded and it is clearly indicated which issues must be answered and by whom. Here, less = more applies. The more we can reduce the complexity of the meta model, the easier it is to run the architecture and achieve results faster. If it turns out later that certain elements are missing, BlueDolphin can provide simple options for extending the convention model in a modular way. During the session, the convention model is not only designed but also directly set up in BlueDolphin, as are the associated roles and rights, the definitions and any standard templates for visualizations and reports. In fact, the wireframe of the environment is ready after day two!

To ensure that the information is entered correctly, on day three we hold a bespoke training course to show your people how to work in BlueDolphin. Depending on the team’s knowledge and expertise, we will provide training on the basics of architecture, how the functionalities in BlueDolphin support those principles and what the best practices are when using them. You also get a tour of the tool and we show you how to use our super-fast support with the direct chat function and how the documentation base is structured. That means you can get started right away with BlueDolphin in your own environment!

On the fourth day, we focus on the future and configure a navigation structure. A navigation structure can be regarded as the blueprint of the architecture content that must be recorded in the coming months. Which viewpoints do we need to be able to perform an analysis? Which views need to be created to gain the insight required to determine the architecture? How do we deal with the delivery of project designs; what needs to be delivered, in which order, and who approves it? A good navigation structure ensures that the content of the environment has a logical structure so that all these questions are answered and so that future users immediately understand this structure. The navigation should feel natural and lead you logically through your own landscape of plates and viewpoints.

After setting up the navigation structure, it is now time to invite other users into the BlueDolphin environment. After all, we are jointly responsible for the content in the navigation structure. Day four is therefore the logical moment to discuss management of the environment. During the management training, we teach you how to create new users, distribute roles & rights, create objects and relations, download templates, link external sources with information, monitor everything that is happening in the environment, and much more. After this training, you are ready to work independently as the administrator of the BlueDolphin environment.

What do we want to have achieved at the end of this calendar year

We close day four by looking into the future. Now that the foundation is in place, how do we proceed with the further development of the architecture practice? On that basis, on day five we deliver a draft roadmap with the plans for the coming year and an outline of how we will achieve them. It is important that both the core team and the client are present at this session. After all, this is when we decide whether the implementation has been successful and when we approve the roadmap for the coming year. Not a minor decision by any means!

This roadmap is important not just to you as a customer, but also to ValueBlue. The roadmap includes the goals and KPIs for the coming year, and we want to work with you to make sure we achieve them all! Because our ultimate goal is to have happy customers.

To give you an even stronger guarantee that we will achieve the goals for the rest of the year, we can provide additional support in the shape of our Customer Success Management (CSM) approach, with which one of our experts will help you for the rest of the year by. We use the second part of the fifth day – and the last part of the implementation – to focus on governance and working under architecture. Good governance and assurance are indispensable for working under architecture. Because they ensure that the information added to BlueDolphin remains up to date and accurate. Then everything you do has a clear purpose and you reduce the administrative burden. Most of all, good governance and assurance mean that decisions can be made on the basis of clear agreements and analyses. That way, working under architecture enables you to make data-driven decisions.

BlueDolphin is all about working together with a clear goal: making your organization a little better, more flexible, more powerful and more resilient every day. Working under architecture is not a one-off project, but a specific way of working, a cycle in which you are constantly improving. The implementation of BlueDolphin is therefore not a project but the start of effective collaboration to achieve your goals faster.

In the second half of the day, we therefore work on creating a strong basis for governance agreements, after which you can start working under architecture on your own. Finally, we hold a final presentation with a summary of everything we discussed during the five implementation days and we review the agreements one last time. You will be able to ask questions and we will make any follow-up appointments and conclude with the ‘key transfer’. After that, we can propose a toast!