February 17, 2016 Leave a comment
There is a lot of “Architecture” out there in the enterprise world? It seems that the title ARCHITECT once held a lot of cachet. You’d find someone titled or a book titled with the term architect in it almost everywhere. However, during my most recent deep dive into the term applied almost all –IMHO– were not architects but designers and in many cases project managers. I reached this conclusion based upon the definition I used to define architecture. That definition has as it foundation the understanding of the components, interactions and uses of such used to create a desired entity. That entity can be as concrete as a house or as abstract as an enterprise. Which has led me to an interesting linguistic puzzle: In many organizations and associations there has been a stated difference between an Enterprise and a Business architect. Yet isn’t the definition of enterprise a business? So rightly so shouldn’t an enterprise architect be a business architect?
With that puzzle aside, I again started to ponder my activities around Portfolio Management. Much of what I’ve seen and experienced in large corporations in regard to Portfolio Management has been around economic prioritization. That is “We has a fixed budget, how can we spend it all to receive the greatest return on each individual investment?” This inevitably results in a effort to stack rank projects by simple ROI or in the case of IT projects KLO (keep the lights on).
Most recently I watched several organization build up a portfolios (aka backlogs) of projects to be prioritized and executed. Many of these projects were classified as either KLO or Innovation projects which were given the highest priorities depending upon who in executive leadership was overseeing. However, deeper investigation revealed that these where neither, but rather what I would call optimization projects (see portfolio management project portfolios). While not a bad thing doing such gamesmanship results the enterprise as a whole not achieving the optimum return on investment strategy. That is to say senior leadership has developed a strategy and middle to lower management, though well meaning, compromises achievement of such through their efforts of local optimization.
The way out of such conundrums is not having senior leadership make every investment decision down to the smallest detail though. My belief is the best way to ensure investment optimization for the enterprise is to make the business architecture explicit and develop a consistent means to determine alignment, interdependency, and priority of current and future desired states. Though looking at the existing enterprise’s state as a whole — what needs to say the same, what needs to change and when– an optimum path to an uncertain future can be charted.
The problem with such an approach is that it is often looked upon as complicated, thus is rejected out of had as lately the management trend is make things simple. Which is rather ironic given we are in an time of multiple priorities and the second generation of the information age. Such thinking is both comical and disturbing, given that many high tech companies are pushing products for Business Intelligence and Analytics to gain actionable insights yet they are still managing their own investments with nothing more than glorified spreadsheets. Maybe I should not be so critical of the state of industry, given how long it has taken other engineering and design disciplines to mature into well understood principles to be applied.
In either event I’m now about an eight (real swag) through defining a comprehensive enterprise design methodology and associated curriculum for the book. In architect-speak, I’ve laid out the rough framework and have started construction/acquisition of components for the methodology. Two moths in, I may have to push back my anticipated book completion date. One the positive side my employers will gain the benefit of this research and hopefully be able to apply it to their advantage.