As chances are for new years to come with the legacies of past ones, that would be a good time to scrub the scraps.
Legacies as Forced Reuses
As far as enterprise architectures are concerned, sanguine resolutions or fanciful wishes notwithstanding, new years seldom open the door to brand new perspectives. More often than not, they bring new constraints and further curb the possible courses of action by forcing the reuse of existing assets and past solutions. That will call for a review and assessment of the irrelevancies or redundancies in processes and data structures lest they clog the organization and systems, raise entropy, and degrade governance capability.
Architectures as Chosen Reuses
Broadly defined, architectures combine assets (physical or otherwise) and mechanisms (including organizational ones) supporting activities which, by nature, must be adaptable to changing contexts and objectives. As such, the primary purpose of architectures is to provide some continuity to business processes, across locations and between business units on one hand, along time and business cycles on the other hand. And that is mainly to be achieved through reuse of assets and mechanisms.
Balancing Changes & Reuse
It may be argued that the main challenge of enterprise architects is to maintain the right balance between continuity and agility, the former to maintain corporate identity and operational effectiveness, the latter to exploit opportunities and keep an edge ahead of competitors. That may turn to be an oxymoron if architects continuously try to discard or change what was designed to be kept and reused. Yet that pitfall can be avoided if planting architectures and pruning offshoots are carried out independently.
Seasons to Plant & to Prune
Enterprises life can be set along three basic time-scales:
- Operational: for immediate assessment and decision-making based on full information.
- Tactical: for periodic assessment and decision-making based on partially reliable information. Periodicity is to be governed by production cycles.
- Strategic: for planned assessment and decision-making based on unknown or unavailable information. Time-frames are to be governed by business models and risks assessment.
Whereas architecture life-cycles are by nature strategic and meant to span an indefinite, but significant, number of production cycles, trimming redundancies can be carried on periodically providing it doesn’t impact processes execution. So why not doing the house cleaning with the beginning of new years.