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VA Enterprise Architecture

Product Line Architecture (PLA)

Introduction:

Architecture and Engineering Service (AES) supports the Agile Center of Excellence (ACOE) Product Line Management (PLM) efforts by developing Product Line Architecture (PLA), which includes planning, research, artifact development, and analysis to define the current state and recommend specific improvements to be achieved in the target state. PLA delivers significant value to VA and our nation’s Veterans through current and target state architectures and transition plans. In order to develop these, VA uses an analysis approach that recommends business, security, technology, and/or data improvements.

PLAs define the roadmap for a core mission area, business service, or enterprise service. They are driven by business needs and deliver products that improve the delivery of services to VA staff and customers. From an investment perspective, PLAs drive decisions for a business case or group of business cases supporting a core mission area or a common or shared service.

PLA Purpose

The purpose of the PLA is to:

  • Ensure a business need or performance gap is considered in the enterprise context and is factually based on analysis
  • Facilitate deliberate planning, prioritization, and investment decision-making
  • Establish/confirm alignment with VA and information technology (IT) strategic goals, performance goals and priorities, and strategies
  • Recommend the Portfolio or Product Line (PL) target state with epics that achieve that target state
  • Enable prioritization of architectural backlog for input into the IT capital planning and budgeting, alternatives analysis, and acquisition processes

PLAs define the roadmap for a core mission area, business service, or enterprise service. They are driven by business needs and deliver products that improve the delivery of services to VA staff and customers. From an investment perspective, PLAs drive decisions for a business case or group of business cases supporting a core mission area or a common or shared service. The primary stakeholders for PLAs are executives, senior leaders, and their staff who run VA business operations.

The PLA is related to Enterprise Architecture (EA) through three principles: structure, reuse, and alignment. First, the PLA inherits the framework that EA uses, although it may be extended and specialized to meet the specific needs of a core mission area or common or shared service. Second, the PLA methodology reuses important assets defined at the enterprise level including data, common business processes and investments, and applications and technologies. Third, the PLA methodology aligns with elements defined at the enterprise level, such as business strategies, mandates, standards, and performance goals. These principles are essential elements in ensuring PLA value.

PLA Artifacts

To successfully support PLM, AES creates architecture views that present complex information clearly and coherently. One of the principal objectives is to present this information in a way that is understandable to the many stakeholder communities involved in developing, delivering, and sustaining capabilities in support of the stakeholder’s mission. These architecture views divide the problem space into manageable pieces, according to the stakeholder’s viewpoint.

There are five core architecture views identified for each Product Line:

  • OV-1: The High-Level Operational Concept Graphic describes the interactions between the subject architecture and its environment, as well as between the architecture and external systems within the Product Line.
  • OV-5A: The Operational Activity Hierarchy is a high-level view of the hierarchy of the operational activities within the Product Line. This is effectively the VA EA Business Reference Model (BRM) organized in a hierarchal structure limited to business function.
  • SV-1: The System Context Description displays Product Line system relationships to systems within and outside of the Product Line, as well as the interfaces between them. The SV-1 is a bridge between the architecture’s Operational View (OV) and Systems View (SV).
  • SV-3: The System-System Matrix provides a tabular summary of the system interactions specified in the SV-1 Systems Interface Description model for the Architectural Description. The matrix format supports a rapid assessment of potential commonalities and redundancies.
  • SV-5B: Operational Activity to Systems traceability addresses the linkage between SV-1 and operational activities specified in OV-5A Operational Activity Decomposition Tree. The SV-5B depicts the systems mapped to business functions.
  • SV-8: System Evolution depicts the evolution of each system in the Product Line over a six-year period.
  • Line-of-Sight: This view displays the relationships between the different architectural layers (Strategy, Business, Data, System, Technology, Hosting) within VA for each system in the Product Line.

The purpose of these views is to enable business owners, Portfolio Managers, and Product Line Managers to plan and execute product enhancements for their systems.

Summary

In summary, AES Product Line Architects develop Enterprise Architecture artifacts to support PLM efforts. As a result, OIT is better able to oversee IT Systems and Products grouped around the VA functions and capabilities they enable. This new operating construct aligns all the required IT technologies, processes and resources necessary to deliver specific business outcomes—not by how they are produced, but by how they are consumed. PLM promises enhanced accountability, visibility and efficiencies across the IT environment that will enable a better focus on outcomes for the Veterans we serve.

Compliance & Standards