ArchiMate Modeling in Practice - Change Portfolio

Bas van Gils & Sven van Dijk
Posted by Bas van Gils & Sven van Dijk on Dec 4, 2013


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The buzz in the organization is increasing as time passes. People have noticed that Brenda’s team is moving on from “just architecture” to road mapping and there is a lot of talk at the coffee machine about how things will commence in the (near) future. Through newsletters and attendance at (management) meetings, Brenda has made sure that everyone is up to date on progress. The positive ‘spin’ seems to have effect as there is not a lot of push-back so far. Also, the good news is that people are getting used to seeing Brenda and Matt together as they are spreading the word about the upcoming changes. The positive atmosphere makes it easier for them to also ask the hard questions.

The PM challenge

One of the issues that must be addressed is getting keeping track of the realization: BriteLite does not have good program management practice in place. So far, most of the projects at BriteLite have been fairly limited in scope, with few ‘big’ projects in flight at the same time. Most of the status reports come in through spreadsheet management, with few ‘hard’ KPI’s with solid data to back up the report. Both Matt and Brenda agree that this has to change. They also agree that it is a bad idea to try to boil the ocean…


Over coffee, Matt shows Brenda some of the work that he did at a previous assignment in another company – decades ago. In short, his reports were based on the following metrics[1]:


Tactical Measure

Questions answered


How are we doing against the schedule?


How are we doing against the budget?


Are we within anticipated limits of staff-hours spent?


Have the scope changes been more than expected?


Are the quality problems being fixed?

Action items

Are we keeping up with our action item list?


He justly claims that these questions make it possible to start simple and grow in maturity as the program / project management capability matures. At first, these questions can be answered on a 5-point scale, and later more elaborate metrics can be used to measure the status of projects. Brenda – of course – likes this approach. She mentions the fact that the architecture tool that the team uses, the BiZZdesign Enterprise Studio, has excellent capabilities for modeling portfolio’s, and related aspects such as:

    • What is the portfolio about?
    • Who owns the portfolio?
    • What are the goals associated to this portfolio?
    • What (architecture) model elements represent the content of the portfolio?
    • What are the metrics?
What are (current) recommendations with respect to the portfolio?

Based on this, it is also possible to define a specific dashboard about the status of the portfolio, making it simple to keep track of progress.

From there, things speed up quickly: both agree that keeping everything in one tool will be beneficial for the organization: a single version of the truth for managing the transformation. A simple structure is agreed upon between Matt and Brenda:

  • Each project gets its own portfolio
  • The goals are closely related to the (purpose of the) deliverables of the project
  • The population is set to the work packages in the project: this is the work we want to track
  • The metrics from Matt’s previous task will be used
  • The dashboards will have to be defined later on, but Matt and Brenda agree that these should be published on a weekly basis
  • They also discuss the need for a weekly status update meeting, where they keep track of the recommendations for the projects

In order to gain buy-in, they also discuss this set-up with their sponsor. He’s a bit curious about it at first and has a million questions, but seems to like the set-up once Matt and Brenda have discussed the details with him. He suggests setting it up for the first iteration and – for the time being – populate it with fake data so the board can get an idea of what it will look like in practice.


Setting up the portfolio for the first iteration 

Feeling stoked by the positive response from their sponsor on their ideas, Matt and Brenda can’t wait to build a first example. They decide to take the first phase of the transformation initiative as their primary scope, as a fairly detailed architecture planning for this was already done by the team before. Matt and Brenda use the BiZZdesign Enterprise Studio to define a portfolio that they can integrate with data already available in the repository. This includes goals as defined in an early stage of the architecture work, and the work packages as defined during the road mapping exercise conducted by the team. The scope, or population, for their portfolio consists of the three steps of the first phase of BriteLite’s transformation initiative:


























The BiZZdesign Enterprise Studio helps Matt and Brenda to measure the progress and performance of the work packages over time. This is done based on KPI’s, or metrics, that can be linked to the portfolio, so that work packages that are part of the portfolio can be scored against those metrics. Matt takes the lead in figuring out what metrics are relevant and could actually be scored given that the data is probably readily available in the BriteLite organization. The names of the metrics are visible in the portfolio definition in the figure above: project costs, benefit, project risks, and expected budget overrun.


In the BiZZdesign Enterprise Studio, the metrics are definable in the tool interface. Moreover, metrics can created as a hierarchical structure. For example, project risk is assessed based on both risk probability, and risk impact. The table below shows this structure as implemented in the BiZZdesign Enterprise Studio. In the column on the left, the “parent” metrics are listed. These can be linked to a portfolio for scoring objects in that portfolio. On the top row, child, or base, metrics are listed. These can be assigned to the parent metrics. The numbers in the cells indicate a weight of a child metric for a parent metric:



After linking a metric to a portfolio, the actual data for objects in a portfolio can be brought into a table (manual, or via upload). Matt and Brenda find the following information for the three work packages in scope of their example:


From here, it is very easy to visualize the data in management dashboards. Matt and Brenda use the BiZZdesign Enterprise Studio to build pie-charts, bar charts, as well as bubble charts to visualize project KPI’s in a format that they can present easily to management:




Setting up the portfolio for the first iteration went relatively smoothly, so it isn’t before long before Matt and Brenda schedule some time with the board to present their results. As before, everyone seems to be eager to get their hands dirty, to start implementation rather than talk about planning and “sit around doing nothing”. Luckily Matt has prepared himself well and reminds them of the confusion they used to have around project status in the past. That settles the discussion a little and clears the way for a smooth presentation about a governance structure based on weekly meetings, keeping track of simple metrics, putting the board in a good spot to manage this transformation.


While there is some reluctance at first, people do see the merit of keeping track of projects. During the Q&A session, they explore a scenario where one project is running late, and figure out how that shows up in the dashboards. Brenda also shows them how easy it is to navigate from dashboard to work packages to the actual architecture elements involved, taking only 10 minutes to figure out the impact of a project being late on the delivery of the architecture…


The board is impressed, and based on this insight gives the green light to wrap up the roadmap in the next two weeks and set up the portfolio’s for governance purposes.



[1] We gladly borrowed these metrics from (last checked: 14 september 2015)

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