Albert Einstein is sometimes attributed to having said that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” As a counterpoint and with some deference to Occam’s razor ‘Nothing should more complex than is necessary.’
Enterprise Architecture is a balancing act between reducing a business to its simplest form yet retaining sufficient complexity to be manageable.
Adhering ‘religiously’ to guiding principles can result in scenarios where the cost of doing so is unacceptable.
- Having a ‘Reuse’ principle, with no exceptions allowed, may reduce the number of processes and systems a business may have but potentially increase the complexity and hence cost of their on-going operation.
- Constraining a business to a very narrow technology set can preclude it from adopting application solutions that would have been otherwise ideally placed to deliver required business functionality.
- A strict ‘Buy before Build’ policy, without rules defining under what circumstances building is permitted can, if coupled with technology constraints, result in no purchase options being possible with a consequential gap in business capability.
A business that adopts an Enterprise Architecture must do with the realisation that compromise will need to occur. Pragmatism will dictate that for the business to remain viable and to prosper, the Enterprise Architecture must accommodate sufficient complexity so that change is accommodated and provides for a positive beneficial outcome.
The inability to support compromise ensures that the Enterprise Architecture is perceived as a liability rather than an asset.
Architectural purity and simplicity may seem like ‘Nirvana’ but is neither practical nor achievable.