Archive for category Enterprise Architecture

Architects Don’t Know What They’re Doing!

This is the second in a series of articles that decomposes some of the latest research into architecture in useful bite size pieces.

It’s official, Architects are trained all wrong and that goes a long way to explaining why so many programmes end up in trouble. Whether you take Zachman’s 1987 paper as the start of the architectural time-line or not, doesn’t really matter. The point stands that architecture, as in the planning of IT systems, has now been around for thirty years. So why do we still struggle with it? Why is it that only 5% of organizations are able to effectively leverage architecture?

It has long been recognized that architecture lacks basic research. ‘Although a wide range of topics is covered, the discipline is lacking basic research.’ (Langenberg & Wegmann 2004) ‘enterprise architecture is a new discipline and it will not mature unless substantial basic research will be made’.(Noran 2003).

Well it seems that some of that ‘basic research’ has finally been done (Hope 2015 ) and some of the results are a bit disturbing. Like the fact that Architects basically aren’t prepared for their role. Then it’s hardly surprising that they don’t know what they are doing (See 30 years and we don’t know what we are doing).

Furthermore, the architects’ beliefs just don’t tally with the academic research.The analysis shows that the only factors significantly correlated with the success of an architecture programme are Monitoring and Compliance, Commitment to the Use of Architecture, Consultation and Communication. The widely held views that methodologies, strategy and tools were the keys to success simply isn’t true.

Hundreds of Architects were surveyed about their training and asked to classify its effectiveness based on the skills required to cover off a number of potential critical success factors identified by the research.. They were also asked about their formal education. And here’s what they said:

Qualifications
Highest Qualification %
High School     5%
Bachelor’s Degree   35%
Master’s Degree   40%
Doctorate     7%

As a group Architects are reasonably well educated, should have a degree and probably should be looking at a masters even if it is just to be keeping up. But the really interesting information is about the vocational training.

Skills and Training
Skill None None/Poor Poor/Adhoc Competent Better
Project Management   30%      
SDLC     26%    
Testing     54%    
Requirements Gathering 32%     49%  
Data Analysis 39%   19%    
Architecture Methodology   37%     45%
Problem Solving 34%   12%    
Business Theory 33%   17%    
Technical Writing 39%   17%    
Interpersonal Communication         75%

Overall the architects’ background did not seem to influence the training they received. And they were least likely to claim Excellent training in Testing, Data Analysis and Technical Writing.

So, what does this all mean? Basically vocational education seems largely absent. And when it does occur it recognizes two things methodology and the importance of communication. The problem with the emphasis on methodological training is that the research shows that the actual method used is a lot less important than the practice used to implement it. (Hope, Chew & Sharma 2017 The Failure of Success Factors)

As for the concentration communication training, it looks a lot like the desperate last resort of organizations, that don’t invest in their Architects; a vain attempt to fix the glaringly obvious. However, it’s clearly not working!

We’re talking about a failed methodological paradigm! What’s needed is an alternative that gets to grips with the real issues. Purpose Driven Architecture Practice (PDAP) offers such a new paradigm. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s not surprising the research was only published in late 2015. PDAP takes an empirically substantiate approach to architecture practice to develop a socio-centric approach. Suggesting that architecture consists of three Architectonic Activities, whether you like it or not these activities are going on all the time and they determine the fate of the architecture programme.

If you’d like to know more about PDAP then email PraXtice@TrueTechnologyPartners.com.au True Technology Partners are the only organization in Australia qualified in PDAP.

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Thirty Years and We Still Do NOT Know What We are Doing!

This is the first in a series of articles that will bring the latest research into architecture to you in useful bit size pieces.

Whether you take Zachman’s 1987 paper as the start of the architectural time-line or not doesn’t really matter. The point stands that architecture, as in the planning of IT systems, has now been around for thirty years. And so why do people still refer to it as emergent? It’s because although we may know what a good architecture programme looks like we still struggle to know how to achieve it. How is it that after all this time there’s still a different definition of architecture for every book written on it; well almost! I guess it comes down to knowing what architecture is. If we knew that we could sort out its epistemology. We might actually have a chance of deciding what matters and what doesn’t. In short we could identify its Critical Success Factors (CSF). It has long been recognized that architecture lacks this kind of basic research. ‘Although a wide range of topics is covered, the discipline is lacking basic research.’ (Langenberg and Wegmann 2004 Enterprise Architecture: What Aspects is Current Research Targeting?) ‘enterprise architecture is a new discipline and it will not mature unless substantial basic research will be made’.(Noran 2003).

Well some of that ‘basic research’ has finally been done (Hope 2015 The Critical Success Factors of Enterprise Architecture). And some of the results are to say the least a bit disturbing. Like the fact that given a choice of CSFs drawn from the literature a college of over 200 Architects basically can’t tell you what the CSFs are. In fact, they can barely differentiate the critical from the merely important. Even then they are a lot further from consensus than you’d expect or like.

Architects were asked to rate the importance CSFs on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being Not Important and 5 Critically Important. Most CSFs were rated 3 or higher by 85% of the respondents. This situation is exasperated when it is revealed that ‘bogus’ CSFs rated as highly as the genuine ones. When filtered for ‘critical’ only you finally get some insight. Just for the record they were: Alignment with Business 68%, Coordination with Developers 37%,Purpose of Architecture 47%, Commitment to the Use of Architecture 51% and Consultation and Communication 74%

But the results are particularly comforting when you realize that out of 25 CSFs only five were picked by more than a third of Architects and only two by seriously more than half the respondents. The research also notes a disturbing tendency for anything that ‘sounds’ rigorous or objectively assessable to be marked down. ‘Formal methodologies, tools, quality control, maintenance and budgeting are all objectively assessable tasks. Curiously, for a discipline concerned with detail it seems that rigor is unwelcome’ (Hope 2015).

Furthermore, the architects’ choices don’t tally with the academic research.

Academic CSFs
Critical Success Factor Critical %
Use of Formal Methodology    63
Use of Tools    25
Strategy for the Development of Architecture    33
Monitoring & Compliance    30
Commitment to the Use of Architecture    42
Consultation and Communication    51

Arguably this data is just as indecisive as the survey data and is possibly biased by the methodological bent of the literature. Could it be that we can’t get consensus because we’re not asking the right questions? It seems that the classical empirical approach to this problem has failed. That failure is underlined, perhaps ironically, by the survey responses to questions about how well the architects thought they executed against the CSFs. ‘Only two CSFs were considered to have been excellently executed and only by around 10% of respondents. These are Alignment with the Business at 11%, considered critical by 68% and Understanding the AS-IS State with 10%, considered critical by 33% of respondents. Consultation and Communication, considered critical by 74% of respondents, scores only 8%.’

So, what does this all mean? Basically neither the academics nor the practitioners know what matters and it seems that perhaps many things may be important in different ways. That there is no ‘golden’ to-do list, no TOGAF like body of knowledge is going to save us. We’re talking about the need for an alternative paradigm, something that Architects unfortunately aren’t typically familiar with. Purpose Driven Architecture Practice (PDAP) offers such a new paradigm. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s not surprising the research was only published in late 2015. PDAP takes an empirically substantiate approach to architecture practice to develop a socio-centric approach. Suggesting that architecture consists of three Architectonic Activities, whether you like it or not these activities are going on all the time and they determine the fate of the programme.

For more information about PDAP or PraXtice email PraXtice@Truetechnologypartners.com.au

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Everybody Needs PraXtice

This year marks thirty years since the publishing of Zachman’s seminal paper. And since then there’s been a torrent of publications on architecture. What’s always puzzled me was that despite all that brain power and all that paper, and believe me I’ve got bookcases and filing cabinets full of it, I’ve never come across  a lightweight fit for purpose architecture methodology. Well that was until now! PraXtice from True Technology Partners is exactly what Architects have been hanging out for. It’s been a log time coming!

In its simple direct style “PraXtice is a research based methodology designed for Architects by Architects. The goal is a methodology that shows you HOW, not simply tells you WHAT to do.” It does what it says with no apologies,   its intent is clear and concise. “Our objective with PraXtice is to provide a practical methodology that you can start using today and to get you going as quickly as possible.” And it does that in about 16 pages!

Before we all get carried away PraXtice makes it clear in its unequivocal style, in what may be the best paragraph ever written about architecture, that there is more to architecture than the mere application of methodology or the completion of a template.  The Crystal Clear Statement, the second paragraph of the documents says it all:

“Let us make one thing CRYSTAL CLEAR right from the outset. PraXtice is a tool for Architects. Applying PraXtice might improve your architecture practice, but it will NOT make you an Architect. There is more to architecture than any methodology can provide. The folks at True Technology Partners know that it takes a long time, patience and a lot of effort to become an Architect. The PraXtice methodologies assume that you have served your apprenticeship and that you have the prerequisite knowledge and experience and access to the necessary resources and artefacts. If you think you can Google your way through this one; you are very much mistaken!”

You just have to love the clarity! PraXtice comes in four versions Free, Professional, Complete and Advanced. And get this Free is exactly that, you can download it or copy it and give it to your friends or not. As the TTP folks say where’s the risk? What’s more, in this over hyped commercialized world, you’d never guess that you can’t just get the cheque book out and buy Advanced edition, your organization has to qualify for it! How’s that?

The production values on PraXtice may be a bit on the light side, but it’s the content that counts. And as they say never judge a book by its cover.

Access to PraXtice is a little limited at the moment, but if you email PraXtice@truetechnologypartners.com.au the folks there are really helpful. Give it a go, it’s probably better than what you’re doing now. And what have you got to lose?

 

The Archi Tool  http://www.archimatetool.com/download

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ArchOps

I keep being told how Digital Innovation and DevOps are going to save the world. Unfortunately for the salesmen I’ve been around long enough to have seen a magazine full of silver bullets, think Distributed Computing, PCs, Information Centers, Fourth Generation Languages, End User Computing, Object Orientation, ESBs, SOA, BPM and even Java to name a few. These were all going to solve all my problems. Mostly these ideas just moved things around a bit. Mostly money, it seems, from one bunch of share holders to another, and that while the names changed the problems basically didn’t.

Another observation I’ll  make is, that when the latest wave of newbie techies get control of your IT agenda the the result is always the same. Business thinks my God these people are clever! Why can’t our IT guys be like them! Then there’s an initial excitement and burst of enthusiasm from the naive evangelists that belittles all that went before and stupefyingly simplifies anything they don’t understand. Which actually turns out to be rather a lot. Then after the frantic and often mindless pursuit of the latest shinny thing fails. Typically on same stupefyingly simple obstacle as the previous technology, the new technology with all its technical debt (remember that term?) is assimilated in to the legacy. The uber intelligent evangelists are off on the next cloud (no pun intended) and the executives responsible for moving all that money around sheepishly retreat into the woodwork leaving the clean up to the IT guys.

To speak plainly Enterprise Architecture has a poor reputation in many organizations and rightly so. One of the problems is that many EA programmes are stuck doing what I call EA2000; using ideas and concepts that were common about 2000. Indeed, many programmes are worse, practicing a degenerate form of EA2000 (Template2000) in which filling out documentation templates has been substituted for actually doing architecture.

So, rather than having to deal with EA programmes that simply aren’t fit for purpose and perhaps having learned from the past. But, more likely as an expediency to reduce over-site and allow the rivers of money to flow (usually out of the organization). We see the idea of  two speed IT or Bimodal architecture rear there heads.  The problem with these approaches is that they undermine the legitimacy of the EA programme. We’ve seen this before. The hose pipe cannot be serviced so some “guidelines” are put in place typically they say something like, projects under $100K don’t need architecture approval. Next thing you know every project is $99K! And the disasters flow unabated.

The correct response is to increase the capacity of the EA programme. Typically, this is interpreted as get more EAs. Something that’s just not going to get up in a lot of organizations. The other option, that I don’t see very often, is to make the EA programme more efficient. What that means is that the programme has to move beyond EA2000 and develop a methodology that is actually appropriate to the organization. It’s time to blend architecture and operations, even Zachman has a Function Enterprise perspective, with operations. It’s time to adapt, to create ArchOps and stop all this nonsense about architecture being old and slow.

Now, that sounds simple, but for a discipline that has no universally accepted body of knowledge and even struggles with concepts like definition it is not easy. But that’s why we like doing architecture. What’s more EAs have the advantage, they understand patterns, they have seen it all before. They are are the smartest guys in the room.

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Mastering ArchiMate

Wierda

This is not your usual architecture book as its title suggests it is about modelling using the ArchiMate notation. The author doesn’t promote any particular tool and concentrates on the notation, which recently underwent a major revision.

Whether you are new to ArchiMate or have been using it for some time I think you’ll find this book useful. It starts with the foundational ideas of ArchiMate explaining the basic Elements and Relations: 3 x 3 x 3 rule. That’s the three rows of the meta-model, the Business and Information layer, the Application and Data and the Technology layers. These are subdivided into the Active Structure, the Behaviour and the Passive Structure. The trinity is completed by three types of relations Structural, Dynamic and “Other”. The discussion is accompanied by a multitude of concise examples and you could do a lot worse than drawing these examples up as you go along.

With the basics out of the way the text moves on to the more arcane elements like Interactions and Collaborations again providing lots of examples. With the core elements taken care of chapter three looks at Derived Relations and some pit falls for new players (Chapter 4).

Chapter six is all about style and patterns, the things that make the views easier to read. If you are new to modelling this is useful stuff, it’s the kinds of things that you’d rather not have to learn through your own mistakes. I’d suggest that you might even consider including some of the Anti-Patterns in your modelling standards.

The Advanced Subjects section is particularly interesting. Arguably, there is no right or wrong way of doing things, ArchiMate is a notation like English and there’s always someone who can write better than you. So, I’m interested in the ways that people choose to model particular scenarios and Wierda provides a couple of examples that I’ve never had to consider, data entry for example. But I must confess feeling a little let down by the section on ESBs. Given the prevalence of buses these days I think that his examples are frankly a bit laboured and perhaps a bit self indulgent. After all the purpose of modelling is to drive out ambiguity not obscure the issue in notation. I think this section is definitely a C –. I simply can’t believe that he couldn’t do better!

However, over all you have to give this work two thumbs up. If you’re modelling with ArchiMate get a copy. If you are not, get with the programme, buy a copy and start modelling.

Wierda, Gerben 2014, Mastering ArchiMate Edition II, P & A, The Netherlands
ISBN: 978-90-819840-4-1

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ArchiMate 2.1 Specifiction

 

TOGAF

 

I have to declare my position. It will probably come as no surprise to those who read this site that I’m not exactly a fan of  TOGAF. But, I have to say one of the best things they have ever done is support ArchiMate.  I am a big fan of ArchiMate and use and promote it virtually every working day.  So when I found out that a new version had been released I had to have it. So,  in a way this is as much a review of ArchiMate than of the book.

If you don’t use the ArchiMate notation you need to get with the programme,  anything else  is like drawing in mud with a stick, messy and imprecise. First, a bit of a warning,  there seems to have been a bit of a false start with version 2 of the specification and it seems that version 2 was short lived, perhaps only a few months. So, be warned there are still version 2.0 publications lurking around.

If you are familiar with ArchiMate I think you’ll be pleased with the new specification’s work on the language structure. Things have been clarified, aligned with the TOGAF crop circle and two new language extensions added, Implementation and Migration,  and Motivation.  Another, long overdue, and very useful addition  is figure 59 on page 102. The Classification of Enterprise Architecture Viewpoints is a clever hexagonal model that identifies the use and target audiences of each viewpoint. Personally, I think this model should have featured much earlier in the work, but no matter at least its there and I think that new users in particular will find it useful.

As for the book, it’s soft back and I don’t think that’s a good idea for a working document.  Mine is already showing the early signs of disintegration, despite considerable care being taken. Generally speaking the layout is clean and utilitarian and at less that 200 pages a pretty fair achievement. There are appropriately brief explanations of theoretically related topics like frameworks, which are useful for the novice in particular. But, I have to say that the book would look better if the text were aligned on both margins and I have come across the occasional odd sounding sentence. But, these are small asides.

If you are considering buying this book, and I really think all architects should, you’ll be interested to know that there is also a really useful Pocket Guide to ArchiMate, that I suspect may turn out to be more survivable, that you can get delivered to your door for about $25.

Highly recommended.

The Open Group,  ArchiMate 2.1 Specification, The Open Group Series, Van Haren Publishing, Zaltbommel

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A Down to Earth Guide to SDLC Project Management

DowntoEarth

While this book is not an architecture book, I’ve always maintained that architects need to be across the entire project delivery life cycle. So I think it’s relevant.

I’ll start with the book’s shortcomings,  but don’t let them put you off, as it does have something to offer. To be frank,  the style is a little rough, perhaps naive would be a better word, but there’s nothing here that a good copy editor couldn’t sort out.  Personally, I’m not a fan of the “Dummies Guide” style of cartoons that the author uses, but they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s perhaps particularly true when the writing’s not that good. Well, that’s enough bagging, and to miss-use another well worn saying, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Or good ideas by their presentation.

This book is the very thoughtful work of, a clearly very bright person, who was thrown in the deep end. Placed in that unenviable position rather than just panicking, he embarked on a a crash course education in project management and the result is this book.

It’s clearly  intended for people in similar circumstances and, when you accept that that is the origin of its shortcomings, it works very well. The author trots through the usual stuff, with an often surprising and refreshing combination of naivete and intelligent insight, and that’s what saves the book. It keeps throwing up little variations on the usual.

The author fearlessly tackles the tricky questions. Take for example, a question that stumps many experienced project managers. How do you reconcile the inclination to a waterfall view of the world, that project managers have, with an agile software development methodologies? While the book’ s views are sometimes a little unorthodox, they are typically thought through and well argued.

This is an ideal book for PMs just starting out and as a refresher for experienced PMs and Architects.

The book will undoubtedly, irritate some people, they shouldn’t buy it. But, I have to say that I bought and I think its worth its space on the book shelf. It’s a little, irreverent and a little disruptive, to the usual project management discourse and I like that.

Boyde, Joshua 2013, A Down to Earth Guide to SDLC Project Management

 

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$harp Practice

I’ve commented on the questionable ethics of some consultants previously, but something I witnessed recently prompts me to revisit the issue.

In the last three or so years in particular I suspect that I’ve witnessed, initially unnoticed, a growing tendency for consultancies to see clients’ projects increasingly in terms of cash flow and less as problems that need solutions. It seems that they care little about the outcome and obscure progress, or more often lack of it, with activity. They keep projects going even when they know they should red flag them just to keep the cash rolling in.

But recently, I’ve noticed a new twist to this game that impacts architects directly. One of the all time favorite architectural principles is “buy before you build”. It’s very simple reduce your risk and speed your delivery by buying COTS components where it makes sense. And making sense is a pretty simple arithmetic exercise. If you can buy it for the same or less than your build estimate then all things being equal you’re probably better off buying it.

Well, in one recent incident I’m aware of the architecture has been rejected because it wasn’t based on open source and so free software. This sudden conversion to open source turned out on examination, there was basically no open source equivalent, to be a curious choice.

After much wriggling and a number of long awkward silences the truth, as always, emerged. The consultants had factored the client’s entire budget in as services, which would naturally be carried out by them. And so when the architecture called for the purchase of some software they didn’t like that because the numbers were already in the forecast!

The lesson is clear. Set your principles and insist that your consultants explain if they deviate from them.

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The Wrong Answer

I am frequently appalled by the lack of rigor in this craft and this has been recently highlighted to me by a linguistic habit that I suspect comes from a younger generation. ( Sorry guys feel free to have a hack at the old bastard!)

That is the use of the answer Yes/No to a question.  As I pointed out to one of our juniors Yes and No are binary. If architecture is about driving out ambiguity then this kind of answer is unacceptable.  I suspect that this structure is the consequence of not wanting to convey information that might be construed as  “bad news” to ones superiors or clients . If this is the case then the organization needs to take as serious look at the behavior of its leaders because they are responsible for this. They are suppressing information for their own comfort that ultimately the organization will pay for.

Answers, particularly architectural answers,  are not about making the boss feel good. They are about logically and concisely passing on information.  As the mediation gurus say it is neither good nor bad it just is. If you can’t handle that then you’re not leadership material and I suggest you get out of the way because things are hard enough without the irrational bullshit.

For those of you with an academic inclination I suggest looking up Jerry Luftman’s work. His work on alignments suggests a set of maturities that an organization must develop and guess what’s  top of  his list … communication!

Anyway, I’m going to finish off with a list of similar useless communicative structures and what they really signify. I wonder how many you’ve encountered this week? If you’ve got any favorites I’d like to hear them.

  • Just …. As in just do this or that … I haven’t thought it through.
  • All …. As in all you need to do is …. I haven’t thought it through.
  • I think …. As in a response to how does this work? … I don’t know.
  • Well basically … I don’t have a clue
  • I’d like … I ‘m not sure what, but something like … I don’t have a clue
  • I want … I want this or that … I don’t know what I need
  • Oh! it works like that! …. I was bluffing before I don’t really know anything about it
  • The specification could be interpreted in different ways … its not a specification or I haven’t actually read it and I was bluffing before.
  • It’s in the design … As in how does this work? … Don’t ask me I was hoping someone else would figure it out!

 

 

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A Reference Architecture for Enterprise Architecture

.

First I have to declare that while I’ve never worked with Phil I have worked in the same organization and I do know him. So with any conflict of interest covered off we can now get down to business.

There are lots of books that will offer either directly or discursively a reference architecture. But typically these focus either a particular technology or problem domain. This book is different its focus is EA as it says in the early pages it is an aid to learning how to do EA.

Despite what the Open Group would have you believe there are many architectural methodologies around and in my humble opinion one of the best is Scott Bernard’s EA3 Framework. (Reviewed on this site).

One of the problems that confronts,  particularly inexperienced architects, is tackling the chosen framework. What techniques need to be applied? Where should the effort be concentrated? And often, after not very long, why are we doing this bit? It’s about this time that having lost their way that projects typically reach crisis point.

What this book does is give you nine succinct sections, one for each layer of the model. Each section is an about twenty pages of good hard executable advice. Many of the questions could be and have been argued ad nauseam  leading projects into the analysis paralysis that is the fate of so many projects. For example “Don’t labour on the shared enterprise and business services”, in two paragraphs the book  puts the issue to bed and that’s typical of its no nonsense approach. One feature I like is that the Conclusion and Summary chapter is only one page.

Following the nine sections are a series of appendices that include an audit model, lists of questions and examples and some suggested reading. Unlike many appendix which are kind of the author’s bottom desk draw there is some real gold in these particularly for the new architect.

While this book is written with a particular methodology in mind and that in itself limits its applicability that should not be used as an excuse for ignoring it. This is a book for Enterprise Architects with a lot of hard won wisdom in it that will earn its place on your bookshelf. Highly recommended, for all sorts of reasons.

Woodworth, P.A. 2013, A Reference Architecture for Enterprise Architecture, Phil Woodworth, Sydney

ISBN: 9780646595276

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