Architecture in turbulent times – part 1

Given the current economic climate it seemed timely to give some thought to the role of the architect during this period of uncertainty.  The role of the architect is traditionally a relatively strategic one.  While we all get into the nitty gritty of technical detail on a fairly regular basis (how often is likely dependant on where your role fits in the spectrum from technical type role to enterprise type roles), one of the primary focuses is usually to strategically align IT with the course of the business, to ensure interoperability across IT projects and solutions, and to define and lead delivery against technology roadmaps.

This all works very well in a relatively stable environment where the business is growing and the economy is understood.  In the current economy many businesses do not have longer term plans / roadmaps as the environment has been so unstable and changing at such a fast rate.

So in this environment how is the architect to add value?

I believe rather than this being a negative time for architects it actually offers a huge opportunity for innovation, adding value and growing the reputation of yourself and your role within the organisation!

Move away from looking at long term strategic goals (where possible of course keep these in mind), and instead focus on using sound architectural practices (e.g. patterns) and ways to improve efficiency and drive near term revenue.

Think in terms of creating new efficiencies via areas such as;

–          Improving business process flows

–          Ensuring solutions are as flexible as possible to meet the changing business needs

–          Ensuring the architecture is flexible and will scale both up and down (e.g. using Service Orientated Architecture principles)

–          Optimise your infrastructure – e.g. by virtualising servers and desktops where possible, thin provisioning storage.

–          Deliver user focused solutions – work with the business to understand how they work and ensure delivered applications allow them to work as efficiently as possible

–          Enable / facilitate collaborative working

–          Work with the business and your BI (Business Intelligence) team to maximise the value derived from the datawarehouse and associated reporting architecture.

In short if you focus on driving efficiencies and cost effective new capabilities as an architect these can be very rewarding and interesting times.  Part 2 to follow.

K