Opportunity Assessment Survey

Something we are always being asked by people charged with improving the performance of their organisations is whether they have to build a full-up business architecture just to find out where their best improvement opportunities lie.  We tell them that if they did they would obviously have a very good grasp of their best opportunities.

We also know that this is not the practical answer they are looking for.  It seems, perhaps not surprisingly, that many organisations want to be ‘better’, but are less sure about whether or where they may find the best ‘bang for the buck’ improvements.  Nor do they want to risk making a significant investment in time, effort, cash or (perhaps more to the point) political capital by building a business architecture or any other similarly robust device just to find out.

After all it would be an admission of sorts implying to their peers and superiors that they didn’t really have much of a feel for their own organisation!  No, what they often want, reasonably enough, is some indication of the worthiness of doing anything, and if so where, BEFORE they suggest undertaking anything like a business transformation initiative or investing in exercises like business architecting.

This seems fair and sensible to us.  So if you are one of those individuals who has the need or wants to quickly and without too much effort make some form of opportunity assessment to establish the arguments for a full or partial business transformation initiative, architecture and all, we have a solution for you.

The figure below (click on it to see an enlarged version in a new window) is a screenshot of a spreadsheet we have developed for ‘quick & dirty’ opportunity assessment surveys.

Business Architecture Opportunity Assessment Heat Map Survey

Don’t let our use of the term ‘quick & dirty’ fool you though.  Although it is both a quick and a dirty approach the results are often actually very good.  Our spreadsheet embodies what is called a “Heat Map” approach whereby the scoring is translated into various heat map colours which are broadly linked to the size of the opportunity.

It draws on a ‘wisdom of the crowds’ philosophy, the basis for which is that your people already know many of the answers to the questions being put……so it is essentially a form of staff survey which asks for scores of 1-5 on various points.

Staff are asked two sets of questions against a number of business process areas: 1) what is the organisations current performance (relative to their perceptions of other organisations) in that process area; and 2) if the performance of that process area were to be improved how valuable to the business would it be and how achievable do they see it as being.  This is all rolled up by the spreadsheet and a scoring, by process area, is given as illustrated in the figure below (click on it to see an enlarged version in a new window).

Business Architecture Opportunity Assessment Heat Map Scoring

Our heat map survey is entirely based on and keyed to the Biz4ge business architecture process model so the two connect up naturally.  This enables the easy translation of the opportunity assessment results into business architecture business case prioritisations and release planning.

Given that the heat map survey yields scores on all 40 process decomposition level 2 activities in our process model by using 6 questions relevant to each process area (i.e. 240 data sets) the information harvested is going to be of a reasonably decent quality…..at least if you believe your staff know anything about your organisation!

Now, on the flip side, we acknowledge this is all based on a generic, cross-industry model….so yes you may want or have to adapt the heat map survey to your own needs……but the concept itself remains valid.  And yes, this sort of survey does not quantify opportunities and benefits in terms of an actual costed ROI.

However, having had the benefit of quickly conducting this heat map survey, and getting some sort of feel for the potential improvements available in your organisation, you can then always target deep dive cost / benefit analyses in selected areas using traditional means such as Cost Modelling, Value Stream Mapping or any other technique you may choose to use to arrive at and confirm a costed ROI!

For our part conducting a heat map survey is mostly a no-brainer if you have an ‘I need to know quickly and cheaply’ requirement.  Especially as our version is free for non-commercial internal use, can be changed by you to match your own specific requirements, and can be downloaded by simply clicking the following link:

Business Heat Map Survey (N.B. this is an MS Excel 2007 file saved in ’97-2003′ compatibility mode, not all features and formats will necessarily perform correctly in older versions of Excel or in ‘compatible’ office productivity suites).

Usage instructions and suggestions are provided as part of the spreadsheet.  Good luck and happy hunting with your opportunity assessments!

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