Enterprise Architecture: Balancing simplicity with complexity

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

BLOG - Balancing Simplicity and ComplexityAlbert 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.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Enterprise Architecture: Balancing simplicity with complexity

  1. Peter T says:

    Hmm. To add to the quotes ​around simplicity “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Arthur Schopenhauer”

    1. Your IT centric examples are all to common, but in my experience:
    1.1 ‘Mandatory reuse’ reflects ignorance of business realities and business will bypass as required
    1.2 ‘narrow technology set’ that gets in the way of growth, sales or efficiencies causes aggravation
    1.3 ‘Buy before Build’ constraints that impact business capabilities in today’s agile world – even with clear guides – will not last much beyond a quarter or two

    2. Business Centric approach
    2.1 IT Enterprise Architecture will ALWAYS fail at leading the business. Points 1.1 to 3 will be unpopular / ineffective transition steps in an evolution only.
    2.2 Business needs to own and operate Business Architecture and those that do know that Customers, Sales, Human Resources etc are MUCH more important than the enabler that is IT.
    2.3 Companies that do also provide proper foundations for IT strategy setting that have IT costs under control and have clear plans in place to further rapid enabling IT solutions based on Business imperatives not IT ideals.

    more comments?

Comments are closed.