Software systems are getting ever bigger and complicated while their Time to Market (TTM) is shrinking ever shorter. At the same time the cost of failure for the software implementations is getting higher. From the technology standpoint residential architects in Palm Springs is the blueprint for the system. Criticality of the architecture piece in the success of any IT system necessitates taking all the precautions getting it done right the first time. IT has established itself as a business enabler and serves as one of the prime drivers for the business growth. This changed business landscape, with its high dependency on IT, demands looking at the architecture development process from a fresh perspective. In this article we will discuss seven of the crucial practices that are important for developing architectures that survive and succeed.
THINKING THE BUSINESS, IMPLEMENTING THE TECHNOLOGY (1)
Independent research groups have identified lack of proper communication between the various stakeholders as one of the biggest failure factors for an IT project. The data shows that more than 50% of the projects that failed could have been saved if the folks in the team had taken keen interest in understanding each other. Why there is a lack of effective communication across the team, even when there is a lot of communication going on?
Communication is a vehicle to transfer our thinking among ourselves. We package our thoughts in the vocabulary and language we understand, often ignoring the fact that the receiver might be having her own set of vocabulary and language. The meaning of what has been communicated could change drastically after the receiver converts and translates it into her own terms. IT projects are team driven and creating a common vocabulary could be a daunting task. Given the heterogeneous nature of the IT teams, it is no wonder that the effective communication is a challenge.
At a high level any IT project will involve people from the following groups:
- Business Managers: They have the vision of the future. They may have directional idea of what has to done but may not be exact about how IT can be an enabler for realizing that vision.
- Business Users: They know how the business operates and it intricacies, challenges, opportunities, existing environment etc. They will understand the management’s vision in business terms but not the technology that could make it happen.
- Project Managers: People who will be executing the project once approved and are more concerned about the resources, efforts and timelines. They could have idea of the vision of the Business Managers, but not much knowledge about the functional and technical aspects of the project.
- Technology People: People who understand the technology and the implementation. They will not have detailed knowledge of the business functions though.
The above descriptions have been framed to make the groups exclusive to highlight the challenges. In actual the team structures and the expertise of the members will vary case to case and may not be this exclusive. As we can observe, each of the groups hold knowledge of one of the critical pieces and lacks knowledge of the other important piece. All the groups must have a common understanding for a project to succeed and to have that they must speak a common language. This poses a big challenge as team members do have different backgrounds, they see the things differently and talk about them differently and have different focus areas. There are natural hurdles for them while communicating with each other. So it will need conscious effort on the parts of the business people to make the technology people understood what they do mean. This can happen only if the business is the language spoken and entire team understands it.
There is another very important aspect to it. Experts who are watching the trends and the tech gurus are settling their minds with the fact that the line between the business and IT is disappearing fast. IT is getting into the DNA of the business rather working in a silo. Business and IT are proliferating into each other’s domains so fast that in near future there will be no space that could be said exclusive to either of them. So that too will necessitate the team to think in the terms of the business.
Last but the most important point is that in the changing business models, IT Service providers are seen as business partners and not just vendors who provide services. Service providers do have stakes in the success or failures of a project beyond the project implementations. Technology solution providers will need to go beyond solving a business problem and actually see the opportunities of improvements proactively. This can happen only if they have a fair understanding of the business and they speak in the language that business people understand.