Keywords: Application Portfolio Management (APM), Application Governance, Project Portfolio Management (PPM)

Description: A portfolio investment decision making tool used with stakeholders with regard to a constantly changing time dimension.  Used to create alignment of IT investments with institutional strategy.  Provides transparency into the decision making process.

The core TIME diagram shows three dimensions:

  • Business value: ranking items by based on their increasing/decreasing business value over time

  • Technical quality/condition: ranking items based on the increasing technical cost or risk of maintaining them over time

  • Time: looking into the future, where items will move between quadrants over time

At each point in time, the core diagram divides items into four quadrants for different kinds of action:

  • Tolerate -

    • higher bar for enhancements

    • Monitor for increased risk

    • Consider providing some functionality elsewhere

    • Re-evaluate for elimination

  • Invest

    • Respond quickly to enhancements

    • Maintain focus on the best solution

    • Maximize usage

  • Migrate

    • Minimize enhancements

    • Mitigate risks

    • Sponsor a replacement or alternative

    • Prepare users for migration

  • Eliminate

    • No enhancements

    • Mitigate risks

    • Get buy-in for shutdown

    • Work through dependencies


  • Help a group of stakeholders get a shared understanding of business value and technical relevance as criteria

  • Help a group of stakeholders get a shared understanding of how applications or services change in value over time, and should therefore be managed differently over time

  • Prioritize applications or services for different kinds of action, such as investment, migration, or elimination

Context: A TIME model is well suited for:

  • Application or solution portfolio management; prioritizing investment in applications or solutions
  • Project portfolio management; prioritizing projects that will expand, migrate, eliminate, or mitigate risk around applications or solutions
  • Service portfolio management; prioritizing services in terms of business and architectural value

Source: Gartner provides materials on this method, such as the article cited on this slide.


TIME is a key method used in Application Portfolio Management (APM). It can help IT have difficult conversations about where investments should be made and where they should not be made.

  • Audience: IT directors, application owners, business stakeholders

  • Scope: An application portfolio (institution-wide, or more narrow)

  • Goals and outcomes: Agree on priorities that will drive next steps (such as investment, elimination, or mitigation)

TIME can also inform the Project Governance process by aligning proposed projects with the direction set by the business and reflected in the completed TIME model (applications mapped to TIME). TIME can be used to help prioritize projects that are needed to invest in (expand or improve), migrate away from, successfully eliminate, or mitigate risk around applications or solutions

  • Audience: IT directors, project sponsors, business stakeholders

  • Scope: A project portfolio (typically IT or IT-related projects, institution-wide, or more narrow)

  • Goals and outcomes: Prioritize projects based on how they co



  • Enterprise Architect, Business Architect-Understand and visualize the current state of application and service to communicate to stakeholders

  • Enterprise Architect, Project Manager-Facilitate TIME Models creation with Stakeholders in relation to institution strategy

  • Project Manager-Implement investment identified projects

  • Portfolio Manager -

Steps: For reference we include the diagram:

  1. Meet with business stakeholders and describe methodology, its purpose and value

  2. Assign a T-I-M-E to each investment. If possible use a structured method to do this that will drive consistent results across domains.

    1. To “plot” each portfolio item, you need an X coordinate (business value) and a Y coordinate (technical quality).  You need a methodology for determining each.  Some tools that might be used are:

      • Brick diagrams: While the objects of TIME and brick analysis are portfolio items, the brick model it focused more on quality than business value.  TIME, on the other hand, plots both quality and business value

      • Investment (FKA engagement) Value Diagrams:  Investment Value plots architecture against business value instead of Quality against business value.  These two may not complement well.

See the Gartner articles about applying the method in detail.


  • Business Value: The participants in the method will need some shared, neutral understanding of business value. In part this needs to be arrived at through discussion.

  • Technical Quality/Condition: The participants in the method will need some shared, neutral understanding of technical quality. Specific examples will be helpful here for non-technical participants.

Artifacts: Here is the core TIME diagram:

Sources: Val Sribar, Gartner Keynote: Navigating the Nexus of Change with Pace Layers (2012); Jim Duggan, Application Portfolio Triage: TIME for APM (2010).


  • Why are we as an organization using TIME for portfolio management?

  • Show the process of how the decision was made?

    • Identify the inventory of applications / services

    • Categorize these services into the quadrant based on their business and architectural value

  • Display the progress of diagram over the time (z-axis)

  • Allow people to voice their opinions / concerns

  • Help people separate themselves / personal-value from the services they created / invented / manage

  • Tie the outcomes of the TIME diagram over time with the organization’s strategic goals


(to be completed)

Related Methods

TIME could be used to align investments to capability maps to show where investments will be made for each business capability.

One might use Brick Diagrams to ASSESS technical quality and condition, and use this assessment as the input to determining the x coordinate for the mapping exercise.

Architecture Methods > TIME Models


Want to help with this page? Please see the Method Contributor Guide.

Stewards for this page:

  • J.J. Du Chateau, University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • Jason Myers, University of Washington

Revisit team:

  • Jose Cedeno, Oregon State University

  • Piet Niederhausen, University of Washington

  • David Roberts, University of Michigan Medical School

  • Dana Miller, University of Texas at Arlington

  • Jenni Laughlin, Univ of Washington

  • Scott Fullerton, Univ of Wisconsin - Madison

  • J.J. Du Chateau, Univ of Wisconsin - Madison

  • Rick Tuthill, Univ of Massachusetts - Amherst