I have long been interested in context diagrams – which is to say, single diagrams of the Big Picture within which a methodology (SDLC, etc.) operates. As a result of a succession of methodology-related engagements, here is my current top-level version:
Click on the picture to expand it.
The idea is to identify all those factors that explain what, ultimately, the methodology is trying to accomplish, how it is governed, how project and programme goals, objectives and targets are set, what support is available, who controls the overall approach (e.g., the core methodologies), and so on. In my experience, most organisations address this issue in a very piecemeal manner, with occasional and very ad hoc references to the details scattered all across the methodology and in surrounding structures (e.g., PMO rules, local standards, and so on).
This is unfortunate, as it invites conflict, makes its hard to understand the whole, makes compliance with the methodology much harder to justify, all but ensures that major errors and omissions will exist, and so on. It also makes it hard to identify who to go to when the methodology does not actually answer a question. Of course, defining all this will demand a vast amount of information that is typically either widely scattered, hard to find or simply missing. But at the very least, for each box you will need to know:
- Overview of purpose in the organisation as a whole
- Role in delivery (eg, direction, prioritisation, project governance, and so on)
- Specific dependencies
- Management cycles
I’d be interested in comments, and eventually plan to create a fully-fledged presentation explaining each item in the model in detail.