An answer to slum control

Vilas posted a response to some of the postings (here and here) I made regarding the relationship of city planning to EA/SOA. He provides an example of a business sponsor that promotes a program that can add million dollars to the bottom line, but has an extremely short timeline, one that requires the existing architectural guidelines, principles, and processes to be short-circuited, or more likely, completely ignored. He compares this effort to a slum getting developed in a nice city.

I’m not going to argue that this situation doesn’t happen. It does. What I will argue, however, is that the fact that it allowed to be built can be a case of ineffective governance. The governance policies and processes have to be about encouraging the desired behavior. If the policies and processes aren’t consistent with the desired behavior, it’s a case of bad governance. In this example, this is likely a rapid growth opportunity. If the enterprise as a whole is in a cost cutting mode, I have a hard time believing that this rapid growth scenario would pass the governance checks and be viewed as a “solid business case.” If the corporate leaders have decided that the best direction for the company is to cut costs, odds are that a project such as this will never make it out of the governance process to begin with. If the company is focused on increasing revenue and growth, odds are it has taken more of a federated governance model, and allows individual business units to make decisions that are in their own best interest, sometime introducing redundant technology in order to meet the schedule demands of the growth cycles. If the enterprise architects in this model are instituting technical governance that constrains that growth, again, they’re acting in a way that is inconsistent with the goals of the organization, a case of bad governance. In either case, that mismatch will eventually cause problems for the organization. In the case of city, it may bring in crime, lower property values, and cause prosperous businesses and their revenues to move elsewhere. In the business world, it could cause a lack of focus on core capabilities, cost overruns, and fragmentation within. None of these risks were probably included in the business plan.

This is the dilemma of the enterprise architect or really anyone with some authority in the governance process. Growth is usually something that is important and achievable in the short term, but difficult to sustain in the long term. Growth has to occur in other areas, while cost cutting measures must be introduced in the former areas. Cost cutting leading to the elimination of redundancy, and if the technology wasn’t planned for that eventual occurrence from the beginning, the effort to reduce costs may eat away any potential savings. This is where the service abstraction is extremely important. Correctly placed services can position a company to consolidate where appropriate down the road. It will pay benefits when a merger and acquisition must occur by providing an analysis point (the service portfolio) from both a business and technology perspective to better estimate the cost of the integration activities.

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