AT#1: Regain Control – make Business People accountable for Architecture

AT#1: Regain Control – make Business People accountable for Architecture

AT#1: Regain Control – make Business People accountable for Architecture

Most IT landscapes of larger companies consist of hundreds of applications that are interconnected via poorly designed interfaces. In most companies, these IT landscapes already have an enormous technical debt (see Bob Martin’s Blog), i.e., an ‘unnecessary complexity’. In my experience, a company typically runs between 80% and 90% more IT applications (and therefore also servers, databases, networks, costs) compared to what would be needed if it had implemented the ideal architecture. A tremendous waste of money and resources, and the reason why IT is perceived as tardy and as a cost factor and not as an enabler.

The following figure shows schematically what typical application landscapes of medium to large companies today look like:


And there is one main reason for this disastrous situation:

Business units are not aware of its responsibility for their applications and do not think architecturally.

There is a tendency to blame the IT department for this situation, but that’s not true. It’s a business problem. Requirements are typically not consolidated well across departments. IT has always just been the contractor who had to implement those punctual requirements under time pressure.

Problems like

  • Overlapping responsibilities between departments
  • Unclear data- and process ownership
  • Acting in departmental silos
  • Weak links between processes that should be connected (like strategy, product management, process management, enterprise architecture)
  • Thinking in the short term has priority over long-term sustainability goals

are the main reasons for the decaying application landscapes and are common to all organizations I know.

What you should do

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Alessandro Merlotti Posted on 12:38 am - Sep 9, 2018

I strongly agree; there’s such a huge duplication in terms of processes, applications, thousands of out of standard (also often not mapped) interfaces, data and related infrastructures.
Cross functional platforms would be a way to avoid silos.
Other than this, there’s the cost model issue:
a line of Business, for its applications, in many cases, pays for setup; for the ongoing they pay only for a little time frame, then the ongoing are charged on ICT department.
With cross functional platforms, there would be savings due to economy of scale and another approach regarding the Total Cost Ownership: you get what you pay for, a sort of Cloud approach.

Sri Jagadish Baddukonda Posted on 4:00 am - Sep 26, 2018

Very well written. More than the number , getting the right processes implemented is important. And it makes sense for the business to understand the Conceptual Architecture and the e2e processes and provide their sign off on these.

Lingaraj Mishra Posted on 2:02 pm - Oct 10, 2018

Very practical contents.
The links of business architecture and simple architecture maps are broken. Not sure if still the contents are work in progress.

Michael Poulin Posted on 9:05 pm - Jun 19, 2019

Dear Wolfgang, I am happy that we both think in the same direction. Actually, I have got this point and evolved it in the book “Architects Know What Managers Don’t” (Amazon, 2013) and in the series of articles on
Nevertheless, I a bit disagree with “… there is one main reason for this disastrous situation: Business units are not aware of its responsibility for their applications and do not think architecturally”. Here are a few of my comments on this:
1) they are not aware because of two reasons: a) the BU dealing with Apps and systems are usually low-level operational teams that implement processes and use automated (hopefully, architected) technology means; b) they do not care about any architecture becuase it is not their business – they have been created for operation execution
2) the model where the BU are not only responsible but tied/merged with technology and work under architectural solutions is a future, which can be realised only top-down, i.e. when the business management of the organisations understand that their organisations have Architecture of Business system regardless managers’/owners’ opinion about this. See the Concept of AoB in the referred materials. This concept has been developed by a joint efforts of Business (CEO-level) and Technology (EA-level) specialists.
I am happy to discuss this topic in details or run a presentation for ATA (after you represent it in more details to me).

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Please spread the Ideas of Architectural Thinking!