Validating Enterprise Architectures

Enterprise system Fort Lauderdale architects are the corner stone of major IT investments and as such have a long term impact on a corporation’s bottom line. Acceptance of the enterprise system architectures by all stake holders is vital to the successful implementation of the architecture. Validation of system architectures with stakeholder expectations is a best practice often followed by good enterprise architects.

This white paper outlines the essential aspects of the validation process and provides a justification for why enterprise architects should form the habit of validating the architectures they build or define. This white paper also suggests some specific techniques for conducting validations of the essential aspects of enterprise system architectures.

A side objective of this white paper is to stimulate discussions and sharing of real world experiences of initiating, conducting, and the overall impact of presenting the validation results. Each of these major tasks of the validation process is an uphill battle requiring technical knowledge and depth, political awareness and people management skills.

As most practicing architects eventually realize, doing the right thing is never easy, and neither is this process of validating enterprise system architectures. Hopefully this white paper will trigger feedback that will help all enterprise architects deal with this issue and begin the process of validating (stake holder approval, acceptance, and adoption) enterprise system architectures.

The Need to Validate Enterprise System Architectures

This may sound very familiar to most enterprise architects but validating enterprise system architectures is not an activity found in most project plans. Yes, the validation process is not necessarily quick nor is it of short duration. However, it is of utmost importance that the foundation of enterprise systems, namely the system architecture upon which major investment of time, money, and resources is committed, is properly validated before it’s too late.

System architectures are artifacts shaped with all the personal biases of the enterprise architect responsible for developing the architecture. Past experiences, current knowledge, and a very personal understanding of the objectives of the enterprise system to be built play a big role in shaping the architects mind and hence the system architecture. Not validating system architectures would mean adopting the view point of the architect or the architecture team which put together the system architecture in question.

Validating system architectures is also hugely beneficial to the enterprise architect as it helps bring all stake holders and leaders together and facilitate a meeting of minds ensuring long term investment and support for the project. No project goes as planned and having this kind of all round support is critical to any enterprise project especially when things don’t go as planned.

An asset oriented view of systems and architectures

Enterprise architects, who view the systems they develop as software assets, tend to include validations into their plans. Assets are built with a long term vision in mind and are expected to have a long lifecycle. Hence it is natural for enterprise software asset architects to understand the importance of being assured that the long term direction set by the system architecture has backing from all stake holders, is affordable from the corporation’s perspective, and will actually deliver on everyone expectations.

It is not possible to define perfect system architecture as many of the parameters involved in forming that architecture will change over the lifecycle of the system. However validated system architectures have the capability to quickly make the necessary midstream adjustments without losing focus of the end goals.

Hence, enterprise architects should cultivate the habit of treating every system they architect as a long term software asset and take validation of their architectures seriously. The next few pages of this white paper discuss the process of validating enterprise system architects, and how to validate specific strategic aspects of the system architecture.

The Process of Validating Enterprise System Architectures

Defining the correct process for validating enterprise system architectures does not need a lot of advanced thinking or process engineering. The process is essentially simple, consisting of common sense tasks. However, planning and executing on these common sense tasks can be surprisingly challenging for an enterprise architect as it depends on the maturing of the corporation’s understanding of the role of enterprise system architectures.

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