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Strategy Session (DrupalCamp CO)


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When a project is born, the battle for power and control begins … over specifications, stakeholders, vendor selection, goals, technology, budget, etc. Power and control, by themselves, are a poor strategy. Control is linear thinking.

Reality, the space where projects happen, is a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff where all the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. When they do, reality refuses to bow down to power.

Control is man-made power. Strategy is real power. The power to chose, limit and prioritize while allowing for collaborative creativity and shared vision. Yes, strategy (often) defines what needs doing, thinking about, focusing on, and avoiding. But the goal of the work is to shine a light down the straightforward path, or paths, through the complexity while honoring, even savoring, the complexity itself.

Strategy is hard, very hard, to do well. The rules are easy. When applied to software development, strategy is an engineering process sometimes called solution architecture. There are four elements of good strategy:

1. Telling the truth insightfully
2. Defining measurable prioritized goals
3. Overcoming hidden obstacles implicitly
4. Creating a construct, the architecture itself, in the form of a document

Getting a process back on track when it's gone awry is also essential to a good strategy. This session talks about strategy in general and for a Drupal project specifically.

Published in: Technology
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Strategy Session (DrupalCamp CO)

  1. 1. Solution Architecture: designing a strategy for project success DrupalCamp Colorado: August 2nd, 2014
  2. 2. Diana Montalion Dupuis DianaMontalionDupuis MichaelSchmid CEO Amazee Labs (Austin) @dianadupuis Follow me on Twitter and I’ll follow you back!
  3. 3. MichaelSchmid,550x550,075,f.jpg
  4. 4. MichaelSchmid
  5. 5. Strategy is … • Intuition • Wisdom and experience • Logic and common sense • Art and poetry • When applied to application development, an engineering process (constantly reinvented) sometimes called solution architecture
  6. 6. According to Wikipedia “Solution architecture (within or without enterprise architecture) is a combination of role, process and documentation that is intended to address specific problems and requirements, usually through the design of specific information systems or applications. ! The term solution architecture can be used to mean either or both: * Documentation describing the structure and behavior of a solution to a problem, or * A process for describing a solution and the work to deliver it.”
  7. 7. According to Wikipedia “Solution architects typically produce solution outlines and migration paths that show the evolution of a system from baseline state to target state.”
  8. 8. According to me Solution architecture attempts to define an ecosystem that will organically produce the stated, measurable goals. the goals, not the solution
  9. 9.
  10. 10. Key elements • Truth and reality (aka bullshit detector) • Measurable goals, prioritized • Overcome hidden obstacles implicitly • A construct (the architecture itself) in the form of a document
  11. 11.
  12. 12. Things to look for … • Ripping the fabric of space time • Hidden complexity • Too much or too little control • No goals or features don’t match goals • Leadership confusion (can focus on what but not how) • Truthiness: reality refuses to bow down to power
  13. 13.
  14. 14. What to give back • Truth • Insights • Facts • Options
  15. 15. What not to give back • Snark • False hope
  16. 16.
  17. 17. Measurable goals • Reduce calls to customer service by 25% in 3 months • Increase subscription to the newsletter by 150% in 6 months • Increase page view time from 3 seconds to 10 seconds on newly published content • Increase traffic by 30% in 6 months (how does the application do that?)
  18. 18. Hidden obstacles • They are *always* there • A good strategy overcomes them • ALES
  19. 19. ALES • Ask • Listen • Empathize • Strategize
  20. 20. Hidden examples • The “real” goal is something different from the stated goal and/or two (or more) stakeholders disagree • The last six vendors “didn’t work out” • The “final say” comes from a boss who delegates but doesn’t or a person with no tech experience is “in charge” of the project but isn’t • There’s a lot of focus on low priority details
  21. 21. Construct • Overview: business reasons to do the project and clear, measurable goals • The vision with just enough detail to be flexible (the art part) • Drupal domains • Estimation • Include assumptions
  22. 22. Drupal domains • Core and DevOps • Design • Basic, responsive theme • Data architecture and migration • Art and architecture: the features and/or however your concept is described • Testing • Project management
  23. 23. Examples • Dual organizations and data • This site is totaled • Traditional “by the sections” • Building the site • Feature phases, like buying a car
  24. 24. When off track • Let go of the original plan • Prioritize against goals • Create buckets and phases • Retrospect, include everyone • Define the now known unknowns and include them
  25. 25. Thank you!