Simply put, its not the simple architecture movement. It’s the living architectural documents movement! (that are simple documents)…

Great email from a long time reader. “The complexity of some of your simplicity posts has increased considerably.” It made me laugh. I know as a former line consultant it can be hard to consider brevity when someone is paying you for what you know.

But brevity in the end is a huge part of how simple works. It isn’t about doing the least you can do. Its about documenting things in a way that they can be reused. Its also about building solutions that fit nicely into the overall goals of the organization today and tomorrow.

I pulled together all the blogs I’ve done recently in what I am calling the Simple Architecture Movement. You can find that compilation blog here. The goal is create a world of living architectures that are current and relevant. To remove the set of binders that many companies have built over the years and replace that with an interactive architecture.

Personally I think the explosion of VR will help in the future of Enterprise Architecture. You can effectively see the entire enterprise from your desk. The architecture become a VR session. Imagine being able to view the actually deployed solution in a VR model. Overlaying the design with the implementation so that the architect can see where in fact there are variances. Then a root cause analysis allows the architect to determine, was the variance required or simply expedient.

As a consultant I would engage early in the project. I would work with stakeholders and gather requirements. Sometimes we got invited back two or three years later for upgrades. If we did a great job the first time (and where I was that in the end was the goal of the organization although you would never know that in talking to people) we never got invited back. But there were times I got to see the simple solution later. I can honestly say that what was documented and what was deployed in the end were seldom even similar.

Consulting is about providing expertise. It’s a great model. Companies or agencies use consultancies as Utility experts. An expert with specific skills then shared over ten agencies is much more effective than each agency or company having their own expertise in house. It is the why of consulting companies in the end.

That why however sometimes creates the problem that exists today. The creation of Thud Factor architectures. Architectures that are documenting everything without ever being touched again. They sadly sit alone in a dark office and no one ever uses them. I believe architectures are documents that should be consumed, read and kept living. Perhaps this isn’t the simple architecture movement. Perhaps instead this is the living architecture movement.

Of course it isn’t fair to blame consulting companies for this and frankly I am not blaming them. They, consulting companies, are solving a problem “I need experts” that is critical to the success of IT well, everywhere.

The value of consulting is not the document produced. The largest document isn’t the best solution to the problem. How do we move everyone to the right a little so that people start to realize the value in your architecture is the ability to read it and to change it so that when the next expert comes along you don’t have to hand them 300 pages.

It would reduce the cost of developing new solutions just by reducing the amount of data you have to consume to actually start designing the new solution. I still think a VR solution that allows you to have someone actually see in all 3D the enterprise solutions as deployed would move projects along quickly. 

I suspect in the end I need to simplify my simplification posts.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.