Do you need an Architect?
Do you need an Architect?
We have helped many clients with the modernization of their Information Systems, which usually involves transformation projects and a clear business direction. It also requires a strong drive on the overall architecture. Without it, there is a high probability of ending up in the same situation within a few years: needing modernization.
1. What does an Architect do?
Information System Architecture
The term architecture in information technology refers to the high-level planning of all systems and data flows. It also includes the deployment strategy, choice of technology, DevOps, and all production processes.
The analogy between technology and construction is clear. The architecture is the master plan that ensures that the end product is:
- elegant / consistent,
- solid / resilient,
- comfortable for users,
In summary, architecture should future-proof every decision.
Should You Care if You are not in I.T.?
Living in our house, our apartment, or working in an office, we feel reassured that an architect designed the construction project. We can thank her for the comfort of a well-designed home.
The same is true for information systems. Business users in corporate don’t need to understand in detail what architects do, but they need the reassurance that somebody knows what they are doing. Then the business users can rely on this trust to invest in technology.
As demonstrated in a research paper from Universiteit Antwerpen Management School, Translating business goals into supporting I.T. goals in the financial sector , there is a direct relationship between achieving business goals and I.T. goals.
What do You Want to Avoid?
Software is more malleable than concrete. It can call for a fast deployment of new technologies without any architectural work. It boils down to a clear definition of the objective of a project . If business impact, objectives, and the long-term expected results are clear, the project must include an architecture component.
The issues of a project deployed without or outside architectural concerns will not appear immediately. The cracks in the walls of the information system will take time to materialize.
What about Cloud and SaaS Solutions?
SaaS solutions have become extremely popular, hitting the $100b annual spending in 2019 . One of the arguments favoring a SaaS solution is significantly reducing the implementation time.
But that does not eliminate the need for an architect:
- Corporates transitioning to SaaS and cloud solutions will run hybrid architecture for a long time. A hybrid design is more complex and requires more planning than a pure cloud design.
- Large SaaS solutions and cloud providers offer such an extensive range of services that it requires careful design to choose the correct implementation.
- Corporates with multi-cloud deployment must design carefully how the various clouds will interact.
2. Cost of Architecture
Cost or Investment?
Architecture has a cost. It requires talent, time, and resources. At this level of specialization, talents are rare. For companies who don’t have enough projects to justify a full-time architect, it is vital to find a skilled part-time resource or to include the architecture design as part of a project.
In home building, the cost of an architect is 5% to 20% of the construction project . It is understood that this work is necessary for a construction project. The same is true in a technology project. Not allocating any budget to laying out a clear architect in a significant I.T. project creates a high risk of having issues during the project.
The same is true for software architecture. Allocating 5% to 10% of a project to architecture is an investment and insurance to prevent future issues.
How to Finance this Investment?
As with any investment, it is financed by its returns. There are several components to consider in its return on investment:
- Remove I.T. waste: this is an easy win for SaaS waste , the inventory phase of your project will detect that.
- Eliminate redundancy: these are used systems providing overlapping or identical functions. Removing one has instant and long-term savings.
- Increase data flow efficiency and speed: these will improve business performance and unlock new business opportunities in the best cases.
- Reduce maintenance cost: a well-designed architecture can evolve quickly at a lower incremental budget.
3. Step by Step Approach
What if you never had an architecture to build your information system?
The first step is a complete inventory of solutions, processes, and data. It may seem trivial, but each of these inventory projects reveals surprises. An information system that has grown organically does not have the clean structure of one designed purposefully.
It takes careful and exhaustive inventory work to map out what is happening.
B. Pain & Issues
The technical inventory is only relevant once correlated with business users’ experience, concentrating on their pains and issues. These are symptoms of the underlying design issues.
The analysis phase is there to articulate:
- The reasons for the current situation: software selection process, integration design, project management.
- The connection between the business users’ pains & issues and the current state of the technical architecture.
- Potential remedies for the current situation.
- An evaluation of the business benefits of clean and well-though-out architectures.
D. Action Plan
Once the business benefits are validated and the target is defined, an action plan is required to move gradually towards the target. That includes:
- clear guidelines for future projects,
- short-term elimination of waste,
- upgrade / migration / decommission plans for existing system,
4. Do You Need an Architect?
Signs that You Don’t Need an Architect
You don’t need to worry now about architecture if:
- Your company uses a single integrated system or a single integrated cloud offering.
- Your I.T. systems are connected in real-time with standard integration packages (not custom developments).
- You can upgrade your systems easily, at a speed consistent with your business needs.
Signs that You Need an Architect
If your information system has grown without an architect, your probably:
- Have several solutions, working independently, each with its roadmap.
- It is difficult to connect these solutions and have efficient data flow, leading to inconsistency in data.
- There are redundancies between your I.T. solutions, which could lead to process inconsistencies.
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We are Here to Help
At System in Motion, we are committed to building long-term solutions and solid foundations for your Information System. We can help you optimize your Information System, generating value for your business. Contact us for any inquiry.