Here is the problem with EA – it is never complete at the point instant when a project asks some question of it. I think that is true no matter how many architects you have or how good they are.
This is the third time I’ve been responsible for “Architecture”, and – no disrespect intended to architects, who aren’t the problem – it never seems to be in complete enough a state that it can answer the specific question a project needs answering at a specific time.
In an organisation that respects its architects – and I think that DWP is one – that means the projects ring up the architects to get advice. Which is all very well, of course, but since the architects are spending all their time trying to build their architecture out to the point where projects need it to be going, they don’t have time to write all their advice down and add it to the architecture.
Of course, you could have an architecture team that builds things at such a high level that you get completeness simply because you’ve abstracted away all the detail altogether.
But I think that kind of defeats the purpose of having decent architects. You’re then into the realms of strategy, and lets face it, architects are supposed to be working out how to get to the endpoint that the strategy defines, not defining the end point itself.
Now I know that this set of statements will be like waving a red flag at a bull for some people. I don’t mean to cause offence, really I don’t.
But I have come to the conclusion that demand for architecture – at whatever level of detail – will always outstrip the supply of architects available. No matter how much money you spend.
Now, this presents a quandary, I think. On the one hand, if projects can’t get what they need from the architecture, I wonder what the point of having an architecture is at all. But on the other hand, the chaos that results from not having one at all seems pretty likely to have awful repercussions. I’m not certain anyone wants to go back to the days where people did exactly what they pleased, and dang the consequences.
Anyway, it would be impossible now that we have to do “service orientation” and “reuse” and “integration”.
But I can’t help but wonder if the real answer is to decentralise architecture in some way – make it a more collaborative and participatory activity, one in which projects do a degree of self serving. Where, maybe, the architects are curators of the content, rather than the creators themselves.
I’m going to be talking to my teams about an interesting experiment I have in my mind along these lines over the next week or so. If we go ahead and try something new, I’ll write about it here.
In the meantime, does anyone else have experiences that are relevant? How did you get your architecture ahead of project’s demands for it?