- Adaptive Enterprise
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Standards management plays an important role in many aspects of organizations. It is frequently seen as a way to improve costing structures, governance, IT-efficiency et cetera. Setting up a good standards practice is by no means simple and straight forward, though.
This is the first in a series of postings on Architecture standards. The series consist of seven postings each covering a different aspect of the subject. In this first posting we will explore why an organization would care about architecture standards in the first place, and also what value a good architecture standards practice can bring to the table. For the content of this series we base ourselves partly on theory from architecture frameworks such as TOGAF, documented best practices, and our own practical experience and lessons drawn from several engagements with client organizations in which we helped building an effective architecture standards practice.
We are convinced that a well defined set of architecture standards as well as an effective standards management practice is a key asset for most organizations. Standards allow enterprise architects to become more effective by aligning with goals such reusability of components (IT related, but also business related, e.g. a business process or capability) and interoperability between systems. Having said this, we have to raise a first red flag here already: setting architecture standards should never be a goal in itself! Putting a standard in place should always have a clear and explicit rationale which, in turn, should be linked to one or more business drivers, such as lowering maintenance costs or faster development of new functionality.
As mentioned in the previous section, each architecture standard should be aligned with one or more business drivers. These drivers are in their turn derived from the overall strategy as declared by the executive board of the enterprise. If an architecture standard falls short of such a relationship, it is a waste of effort to have and maintain it. In posting 4 of this series we will elaborate on the embedding of architecture standards with similar concepts in other places in the organization (policies, technical specifications, etc.). Below we list some benefits of a good architecture practice that directly translate into business value. These examples are drawn from what we have seen in practice, the list is definitely not meant to be complete.
Architecture standards do not exist in solitude in the organization. Beside the actual content of the architecture standards themselves, the “standards practice” comes among other things with processes for governance and maintenance, roles and responsibilities, and a common vocabulary. The success of the standards practices depends on how well all this is tied into other processes and frameworks in the organization. This will be a central theme in the subsequent postings in this series. We end this first posting with an overview of the topics of the next postings.
The figure below visualizes the overview of this blog series. We will briefly explain what will be covered in each of the topics mentioned.
If you’d like to know more, please leave a comment. The next post in this series covers the introduction of a common terminology to use within a standards practice, and will also include suggestions and examples. It is scheduled to be posted on the 9th of January.