How many times have we heard management ask what value is there in all this architecture/blueprint stuff? What can you do for us in the next few months? We don’t have time for a two (2) year project? Are there any quick fixes or low hanging fruit that architecture can give me? Can you save me any money on this effort? Management perceives architecture in many different ways. In addition to the variety of perceptions, there is a lack of understanding where the value comes from when working with architectures.
A key value of architecture to business management is in support of business transformation. Let us be clear, we mean that business transformation as taking actions that organize people, process and technology to achieve significant change that aligns with the new or updated business strategies and goals (i.e., adopting a new business model). A practical example to show value is to select a typical management situation and demonstrate value to management not just describe what architecture is all about or just document the structure of the enterprise.
As a start, let’s choose the task of business transformation as a place to save money. Business transformation has some basic features that architecture can leverage. Transformation implies changing business models and mapping from the old versions of models and their relationship to new ones. This requires documenting and understanding your current business structure and possibly the environment around it.
Assessing the best way to achieve your new direction demands some analytics to more accurately identify the differences between the current (‘As – Is’) and future (‘To – Be’) states of the business. These architecture suites imply multiple structural perspectives. This makes architecture from being a passive tool to an “active” ingredient for managing change. While transformation is not a new idea, architecture makes the transformation effort more precise and predictable to achieve resulting in the desired business state and structure after transformation is complete. Further it acts as a single point of control for the transformation efforts by eliminating the need for countless ‘assessments’ before real work begins. This should result in some cost savings during transformation as well as identify some low hanging fruit to harvest.
Also, it is important to note that even if your organization “does not have an explicit architecture, it has an implicit one.” As such, it is useful to make it explicit and part of the ‘corporate knowledge’ of how the business works. If it is explicit, it can become an ‘active architecture’ that participates in the management and change of an enterprise.
Linking sets of architectures with an effective set of analytical techniques provide a quick way to respond to the rapid and constant changes in the business environment today. We call this approach the One Minute Architecture Solution since it can rapidly represent changes that enable successful business transformation This is both desirable and acceptable to management since it provides and confirms the variant (as opposed to stable and invariant) elements of the organization’s fundamental structure in a meaningful way.