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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

Is complexity a problem for the enterprise?

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Richard Veryard states that "Complexity is not a problem". Let me see.

Complexity is growing rapidly today. And that is as it should be.

Should we not control complexity, the management of our systems and enterprises, of their issues and their aligned evolution, would require greater and greater efforts and costs.

Architecture helps us manage complexity though since it documents, breaks, groups and encapsulates it in blocks which can be independently managed like computer chips.
This is what the architect typically does and architecture comes with. 

Besides how could one be able to convincingly say what an enterprise looks like without an architectural description? How would one be able to isolate a defect in time? How would one make the strategy happen without gross gaps? 

The EA architect documents the complex enterprise (otherwise described by many pictures in many drawers), establishes principles and guidelines of evolution and creates the target architecture so that complexity would grow in a controlled manner rather than feeding on itself to result in even more complexity in more diversity. 
The architect also standardizes to reduce complexity.

Complexity creates for the human enterprise a problem that grows. Unmanaged, it alters the capability of the enterprise to deliver and respond to market change. The knowledge in various domains is increasing too quickly. How do we cope with this? People specialise. But in the process, they lose the big picture, the overall architecture.
Hence, somebody in the enterprise has to hold this synoptic picture. This is the EA architect.

The amount of information is growing. The Information architects then come to create and manage the information and its map, as part of an enterprise architecture.
Architects document enterprises, guide their service based modular transformation. In general, they are the keepers of the big picture.

Unmanaged complexity amplifies problems and slows down opportunity realisation. 
Managing complexity diminishes problems and and their solving cost and amplifies opportunities.

Complexity becomes one of the biggest problems of an enterprise when not properly managed. 

Stil, the architect stalls not the growth in complexity since this is inevitable.

Firms can add new systems which, as a rule, add complexity. They ought to manage this new functionality, since otherwise it may turn against them in terms of operation stability, reliability, integration, response time, cost etc.
At similar complexity, competing firms are differentiated, by their capabilities to manage complexity. 

That's how Enterprise Architecture becomes a competitive advantage with the EA architects having to guide the enterprise evolution to manage its complexity.
To do that, EAs employ the EA blueprint, principles, service orientation, roadmaps etc.

If the business suggests a new application, of which the enterprise already has a few of the kind, the architect has to analyse it in the EA context and, if the proposal does introduce duplication, then suggest a solution for re-use or adopt a trade off position. In fact, the architect has to automate that decision for others to do, by creating EA principles, standards... that are agreed by and enforced by all business stakeholders upfront.

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Adrian Grigoriu blogs about everything relating to enterprise and business architecture, SOA, frameworks, design, planning, execution, organization and related issues.

Adrian Grigoriu

Adrian is an executive consultant in enterprise architecture, former head of enterprise architecture at Ofcom, the spectrum and broadcasting U.K. regulatory agency and chief architect at TM Forum, an organization providing a reference integrated business architecture framework, best practices and standards for the telecommunications and digital media industries. He also was a high technology, enterprise architecture and strategy senior manager at Accenture and Vodafone, and a principal consultant and lead architect at Qantas, Logica, Lucent Bell Labs and Nokia. He is the author of two books on enterprise architecture development available on Kindle and published articles with BPTrends, the Microsoft Architecture Journal and the EI magazine. Shortlisted by Computer Weekly for the IT Industry blogger of the year 2011.

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