Standards management plays an important role in many aspects of organizations. It is frequently seen as a way to improve costing structures, governance, IT-efficiency et cetera. Setting up a good standards practice is by no means simple and straight forward, though.
Why architecture standards?
How do architecture standards realize business value?
Architecture standards have an impact on key design choices for new functionality. The earlier in the development process these choices are made, the better. This point is illustrated by the simplified graph, depicting how the cost of change curve for the life cycle of an IT project looks like: the later in the life cycle, the higher (more than linear!) the cost of change.
Think of electricity plugs for your electronic equipment. If you do a lot of travelling, you know that you need a whole bunch of converter plugs to be able to plug in your laptop in all parts of the world. The same holds for interfaces between IT systems. The more standardized these interfaces are, the less “converter plugs” (i.e. band-aid solutions) are needed, the less costs for maintenance, etc.
In the next posting (terminology) we will define a standard as some “thing “ or best practice that has proven successful in the past. This past success and experience with the standard mean that reusing it in a new project improves the predictability of the result. This greatly reduces project risk of all sorts. Take for example a standard IT component that handles authorization for access to an application. It was proven in the past that this standard complies with corporate policies on identity and access management. Reusing the component in the development of a new application assures us that the new application also complies with the corporate policy. Hence the risk of a security breach is reduced.
Standardization can result in the reduction of the number of assets in the enterprise landscape. This means a reduction of the total cost of ownership.
How to use standards
Overview blog series
As in every management discipline, communication is a key success factor. There is a need for a common vocabulary. What exactly is a standard? What are types of standards? In this posting we will introduce a framework for architecture standards management, and explain the words that define this framework.
This posting describes an effective approach for the documentation of architecture standards. We will also touch up on how to store the content, and how to maintain this body of architecture standards.
As already brought to bear in this posting, architecture standards do not live in solitude, but should be connected to corporate strategy. In this posting we will elaborate on practical ways to achieve the right level of embedding.
Change is a constant factor for every organization, and architecture standards need to adapt to changes. That means that the architecture standards have an expiration date on them, and that they should be reviewed on a regular basis. The right processes must be in place to manage the life cycle of architecture standards. In this posting we will describe a practical approach.
An architecture standard is worth close to nothing if they are not used in change initiatives such as IT projects. A solid governance process alone is not enough, every effort should be taken to socialize and familiarize end users with the architecture standards available and applicable to them. This will be the last topic of the series, before we issue a final episode in which we wrap-up and summarize.