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What Is the Solution Envisioning Process?

Solution Envisioning is a problem-discovery, situation-assessment, and solution-planning process. It was designed to improve the chances of solution success by addressing the risks and challenges present in the early stages of the implementation process. Solution Envisioning embraces a business-centric approach to designing and realizing technology-enabled business capabilities. It bridges the gap between Business and IT through the integration of concepts and techniques from both best-of-breed business strategy methods and software development methods.

Solution Envisioning with Capability Cases is designed for use at the front-end of the software development lifecycle.1 The process has three phases, with the use of Capability Cases occurring throughout. Figure I.1 illustrates the iterative nature and flow of the Solution Envisioning process. The main deliverable of each phase is shown as the output needed for the subsequent phase. The three phases of Solution Envisioning are

  1. Business Capability Exploration—Creating the Solution Vision and an initial Business Case

  2. Solution Capability Envisioning—Creating the Solution Concept

  3. Software Capability Design—Elaborating and confirming the Business Case and delivering the Solution Implementation Roadmap.

Figure 1.1

Figure I.1. Solution Envisioning process: main phases and outcomes.

The process supports a consistent, repeatable, and rapid way of progressing from a business-problem understanding to a solution concept. What is often regarded as a mysterious process composed of hit-or-miss activities is transformed into a reliable practice.

Solution Envisioning with Capability Cases has been applied in a number of projects. For example:

  • Planning a system to manage engineering designs

  • Determining requirements and the technology adoption process for long-term digital archives

  • Implementing expertise location and intelligent search for a large services company

  • Architecting a wealth management system

  • Designing a help desk for a major electronics manufacturer

  • Providing citizens with improved access to local and state services

Examples of using Solution Envisioning and Capability Cases in different situations are featured throughout this book. What Solution Envisioning delivers is an agreed solution concept and realization roadmap. These serve as a starting point for building a system using one or more of the well-established software development practices.

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