Monday, March 10, 2008

Death to Complex Enterprise Architecture

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
~ Leonardo da Vinci (Italian painter, sculptor, architect and engineer. 1452-1519)

For some reason we have allowed ourselves to become enamored of these incredibly complex business methodologies. We fool ourselves into believing that everything needs to be complicated because we live in a complicated world, or because our business is complicated. It's all nonsense.

The ideal enterprise architecture is based on simple models. To reduce errors we don't need Green Belts, we need to simplify the process. To improve efficiency, we don't need decentralization, we need to identify and remove bottlenecks. You don't need a migration plan that takes three years (don't laugh, I've seen them); you need to take logical, smart steps to improving your business every day. You need to develop simple feedback mechanisms that tell you if your changes are successful. And you need to do it all within a reasonable time and budget.

Complexity seems to be the trademark of all the current fads in business optimization. It doesn't matter which system or model you study, they love to complicate what are relatively straightforward business processes. There are only so many ways you can enter an order, or build a widget, or ship a widget. Obviously, the way that gets the job done fastest, with minimal errors is the best way to get the job done. Yet, we are in an era where more and more businesses are seeing declining bottom lines, increased employee turn-over, reduced margins and higher rates of error. I have walked into companies that are so tangled in complex webs of processes and work flows that it is a miracle anything gets done. Complexity is not the answer.

Simplify! Reduce and eliminate all unnecessary steps. Smash through bottlenecks in the flow of work and information. Implement metrics to validate your changes. Be bold and don't fall prey to "We've always done it this way" thinking. Work with your employees and ask them to recommend improvements to the flow.

I believe we will soon see an end to all these silly EA models that preach complexity. Businesses need solid, reliable solutions to improve profitability, efficiency and error reduction. Hiding behind jargon and fads will not make things better; in fact, we are seeing how they are making things worse. Albert Einstein said it best "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." We have tried all the complex fads and have been visited with nothing but failure.

It is time to get back to basics.

R-Squared Computing - Business Technology Experts