Matti Kinnunen
Aug 23, 2010
Posted in category: 2010 Member Articles

How good is your architecture?

The importance of enterprise architecture is well recognized by ICT professionals. According to the ICT Standard for Management enterprise architecture consist of four areas: business, information, systems and technology architecture. Business architecture consist of business processes; information architecture deals with e.g. master data management; systems architecture consists of various applications and their interconnections; finally technology architecture deals with the physical systems and technology selection guidelines.

Given that enterprise architecture is such a large and varied area, are there any easy methods or measurements for estimating the quality of a given architecture? Or in other words: can we measure the complexity of the architecture and its parts? Can we find out the areas, in which small development investment would process high values?

The answer turns out to be yes. There are simple and easy to use measurements. And here is how to use them.

First, list all applications using e.g. Excel or some other spreadsheet applications. For each application, record which business units/areas use it. Record also which business process are using the applications. Record also which master data each application is either creating or modifying.

Second, list all interfaces among the applications. Record at least which application is sending which master data to which applications.

Third, using these two lists, calculate the following values:
Number of applications per business process.
Number of applications which are used only one or only few (<3) business units.
Number of interfaces per application.
Number of applications creating/modifying each master data element.

Fourth, interpret the values in the following manner:
Any business process with more than 5 applications is too complex. The quality of business architecture is low.
If most applications are used by only one business unit, level of re-use is low and maintenance load is high. Also, project time-to-market will be longer than necessary. The quality of business and systems architectures is low.
If number of interfaces per application is uniform (low variation), the architecture is ad-hoc, with no good design principles. Most likely there will be information security problems. Overall quality of architecture is low.
If number of applications creating/modifying is higher than one for many master data element, information architecture is of low quality. There will be reporting problems.

The ICT Standard for Forum will later on have tools for these measurements.

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