Adding confidence and transparency through a Design Authority

As we’ve discussed in the past blog posts, large scale programs can be overwhelming Key stages in the project portfolio delivery performance improvement journey Multiple teams and progressive technology can create a frustrating environment and lead to implementation fatigue.  Finding balance between agility v. standardization or functionality v. usability can create conflicts among stakeholders.  Decision making can stall when visibility and transparency are limited.  Creating a design authority can help you avoid these problems and maximize opportunities.  So, what is a design authority?  Simply put, a design authority is the group or person responsible for ensuring a solution meets goals, needs and specifications. A design authority defines and employs technical strategies, architecture standards and design methodologies.  The objectives of design authority are:

  • To achieve project quality objectives, improve delivery efficiency and optimize total cost of ownership to the enterprise
  • Approve designs and select standards.
  • Control the high-level design concept and keep it focused on meeting business needs
  • Define and communicate a standard design process to ensure interoperability, quality control, and integration of vendor components and designs
  • Effectively assure the technical aspects of delivery
  • Consider opportunities throughout the above steps, providing timely and useful information during the design process

A discrete Design Authority function, working in conjunction with project teams, is a well-proven way to be confident that you will get what you set out to achieve.  The Design Authority function takes an end-to-end view of the design and, using a business focused perspective, ensures that the program will deliver business value.  The image below illustrates how tracing each level of the solution to the original vision validates that what is being built will provide what is required.  While this approach exists in all Design Authority functions, it may take different forms depending on the program.   In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss and examine the components of this approach in more detail.

Joel Cervelloni & Andre Michel Vargas

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