Baseline Architecture – Enough is Enough

Current state or Baseline Architecture are important just enough to understand gaps between current state and future state architecture. Once the future state is developed, architect may develop enough current state to provide context and gap analysis that is needed for execution and delivery. It is very easy to get deep into the baseline, it wastes a lot of resources and time to understand entire picture. Although EA is to understand big picture, but the picture has to be future state big picture, instead of current state. The exhaustive documentation of current state is also listed as pitfalls of Enterprise Architecture in many organizations 1. The current state documentation degrades quickly as it cursed by the inevitable change that is happening via organizational ecosystem.

Current state documentation is not all bad, just enough documentation for highlighting process drawbacks, complexities may serve beneficial if completed within correct context.

Iterative EA Current Future Gartner

Iterative Enterprise Architecture Development.
(Source : Gartner 2006)

There is always a balance in determining what is Enough, if you think the objective of creating current state is to identify the gaps, the current state must provide same level or documentation as future state does. Uneven levels of documentation may lead into Analysis-Paralysis for some organizations. EA is fundamentally a strategic approach, it may not make sense to document future state in too much of detail. Sometimes it makes sense develop future and current state details just enough to satisfy stakeholder needs via correctly chosen viewpoints 2, sometimes the relationships between baseline and future state are not as straightforward, but choosing what to document and level of detail needed can be viewed as more of science than art. If current state documentation cannot be compared with future state documentation, it is not worth documenting. If current state documentation does not have a clear use case, it is not required, never document anything without clearly defined use case for its consumption.

Choosing correct form of communication is also equally important, if the documentation provided does not provide enough and accurate details, the credibility of documentation will be undermined and ignored. Choose correct level of detail and make all attempt to complete that for current state documentation, small errors may cause loss of entire credibility for resources and time spent in developing it.

Developing current state can also be aided with correct use of viewpoints, and use of technology. The technology can automate some of the grunt/ground work before involving SME to clarify ambiguities. Automated data collection for current state saves resources and time.

References

  1. James G, 2009, Just Enough Current-State Architecture, Gartner G00140767, Gartner Inc.
  2. Archimate 2.1, The Open Group, available at http://pubs.opengroup.org/architecture/archimate2-doc/chap08.html#_Toc371945228

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