By Barbara Hill
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
Self-help gurus have been asserting this for years—and it is no less true for software development.
In software development, we try to not repeat the pattern of projects costing too much, taking too long, and not delivering what customers really need or want. This is no doubt why we’ve seen so much advice offered on how to do things differently.
As an Enterprise Architect, I take a holistic view of an enterprise by focusing on collaboration, facilitation, coordination, and integration.
Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of different approaches to software development.
…Early on, there were claims that formal project management methods would solve this problem by reining in costs through managing schedules and ensuring requirements were clearly stated and met.
…We’ve seen the Agile Manifesto, which, among other values, emphasizes individuals and interactions over processes and tools, as well as responding to change over following a plan.
…Then came the DevOps movement, which noted that simply focusing on software development and “throwing work over the wall” to operations was part of the problem. Instead, developers and operations staff should work together to produce better results.
…From there we’ve experienced DevSecOps, which involves security from the outset.
…And then there’s BizDevOps, in which business teams actively engage with the development and operations teams to build new products and services.
No matter which approach you use, in order to deliver a quality product or project, you need to understand the why, the how, the who, the when, the where, and the what of how your business fits and works together.
Of these six questions, the essential one is “Why?” and yet it is often the one left unanswered.
The next time you start a technology project like rebuilding or modernizing a legacy system, or creating a new one, start, as Simon Sinek says, by asking “why?”.
Why does your business or government entity exist? What is the essential value offering you make to your customers or constituents?
Asking “why” determines one of the key components of business architecture—the value stream—and it is also key to Agile and DevOps approaches that emphasize user involvement in determining what is built and how it is tested.
Once you know your value offerings and have some ideas on strategies to deliver your products and services, you can explore what capabilities you need. An analysis and assessment of your business capabilities will help highlight early on where your strengths and weaknesses are and will help you prioritize where to spend your time and resources to achieve the greatest benefits.
By architecting your business, you can think about the information architecture necessary to support the data vital to your success.
Enterprise Architecture work can be done in parallel with your DevOps teams to help ensure that all parts of your enterprise (business, information, technology, applications, security) work together, as noted Enterprise Architect Tom Graves says, “with clarity, with elegance, on purpose.”
About the Author: Barbara Hill is a Senior Enterprise Architect with KAI Partners. With over 20 years of experience working with both California state government and private sector companies, she has been instrumental in helping clients address the complexity and volatility of change, while ensuring alignment between strategic goals and operational realities. Barbara has held Enterprise Architecture certifications from Zachman International and Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture (PEAF and POET) and is currently working on certification from the Business Architecture Guild. Her Enterprise Architecture practitioner’s bag includes considerable knowledge and experience with organizational change management, quality improvement practices (such as LEAN and Six Sigma), knowledge management, data management, and data governance. Barbara’s wide-ranging work interests reflect her nomadic early days, having resided in a number of different U.S. locations, as well as Mangla, West Pakistan and London, England.