Monday, 22 August 2011

What Happpened to the Designers ?

A couple of years ago a lot of job names in The Netherlands changed. One day it seems, it was no longer acceptable to call the lady who cleans your house 'cleaner' but 'interior caretaker'. A farmhand became an 'agrarian assistant'. I really don't know why. At the time it looked like it was aimed to change the perception of less-liked jobs. Maybe to increase interest?

These days, everybody is an architect. Process Architect, Software Architect, Information Architect, Infrastructure Architect .....

I experience a devaluation here. I see lots of 'architects' designing applications (making process models, logical data models and use case models, etc), abusing the PSA (for those without IT background: Project Start Architecture) for the job. Even worse: a lot of people and organizations think that's what architecture is all about.

Depending of the level of architecture, an architect should set out the framework, the guidelines for the solution, not the lowest details of the solution itself. He (She included) should focus on the consistency of the total solution for the enterprise, making sure that no effort goes to waste, but delivers to the long term goals of the organisation.

That also means you don't need a whole army of architects. Just a few (depending on the size of your organisation), assisted by a minor army of designers, would do the job!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

What or Who's Driving Architecture ?

All too often I'm hired by the IT Department. First thing I usually have to do then is argue my way into the 'business side' of the company that hired me. After all, Architecture should be a business issue, not to condone IT strategy. Usually IT management grudgingly agrees.

But, when architecture is initiated by IT management, your work is a lot harder. I find it is really one of the hardest part in doing architecture: business often doesn't really care, and IT cannot sell the idea of architecture. You will have to overcome the suspicion of the business. That will take some doing, as nobody is really waiting for you. Make sure you're not on a mission to sell the IT strategy to a business that is a) not interested and b) doing a whole lot of other - more interesting - stuff.

So you really need to make clear to the business that what you're trying to achieve is aimed at achieving (long term) business goals. At the same time you need to stay on good terms with IT management, as they're picking up the bill for your hours. Another kind of trade-off than we're usually used to. The hard - but fun - part lies then in finding the balance between business and IT goals.

Sometimes you're in luck. Business is so pressured into change that it will welcome anyone who can assist them in realizing that change. But don't get used to it....