This week we are publishing feedback on our first workshop concerning system rationalisation and migration which seemed to centre around the ‘why’ or ‘how’ large organisations got into such a mess in the first place. We thank everyone who attended the workshop and hope they will encourage others, in both business and IT, to attend follow up workshops where we can address issues of how to move forward. Read on…
On the 16th May 2011 SystemicLogic held the first in a series of workshops aimed at exploring the challenges of systems rationalisation and legacy migration. The workshop also served to introduce several architectural tools and analytical techniques supporting large businesses in charting a path out of their present complexity. Watch this space for more information and updates on upcoming workshops.
Some of the thoughts raised in that workshop included:
Imagine the birth of a city. In the beginning the networks are simple – the roads all have logical connections, leading from house to house, district to district. Likewise for utilities; water, electricity and other essential services. However, as the city grows it attracts more people. Industries develop and requirements increase. Soon, and with a lack of design, new houses start to pop up on the fringe.
Makeshift connections are made, aligning the old with the new. New supply chains are created, often overlapping. Eventually, these connections are made permanent – themselves becoming part of the established order. Over decades, or even centuries, this hodgepodge of hubs, nodes and flows becomes so congested that urban life is brought to a virtual standstill.
In some cases the convolution becomes so great that, rather than trying to reengineer the old, officials choose to build brand new cities. This was one of the primary reasons why Brasilia came to replace Rio de Janeiro as the current capital of Brazil.
Likewise, the complexity of legacy systems has led some commentators to speculate that it would be easier to start a new company from scratch than it would be to optimise the mammoth IT platforms that have been developed by most large businesses.
From this perspective one can see the truth behind the old adage that in order to understand where we are going, we first have to understand where we have come from.
Just as the urban planner needs to understand the layout and history of the city in order to develop it further – for example understanding where utilities connect or where sinkholes and instabilities might exist – a company needs to possess an accurate architecture of its business and the systems it seeks to develop. Company-wide communication is key to this process. Imagine if the Public Works office won’t return the planners phone calls, or the geologists wouldn’t provide their reports – without a system-wide blueprint and communication between existing stakeholders, we could risk saturating one area with services while completely estranging another. The complexity and cost of any project would be increased several-fold.
In business this problem has only been compounded as the drive to increase immediate competitiveness has impeded long-term sustainability. Standards and effective governance are often left by the wayside as business units desperately scramble to find the ‘silver bullet’, ‘the quick fix’ or be part of ‘the next big thing’. Such positioning has led to the haphazard evolution of business systems without an overarching view of how new adaptations fit into the company as a whole. The unavoidable result of this myosis has been to introduce excessively high levels of redundancy and duplication – to an increasingly unfeasible, and costly, degree. This is why ballooning IT support costs and inflexibility have been identified as a preeminent concern across the Financial Services sector. Without understanding the pathology of our previous behaviour; any solutions that are adopted promise to be temporary in their effect.
SystemicLogic offers a number of techniques and tools to support small and medium sized enterprises as well as corporates to represent their architectural complexity at any time before and during the migration. These architectural analytics are used for trade-off analysis and eventually provide a view on the ideal implementation path taking changing requirements into consideration.