Current State EA: Focus on the Integration!!!
By Eric A. Stephens on Sep 10, 2012
A recent project has me at the front end of a large implementation effort covering multiple software components. In addition to the challenges of integrating 15-20 separate and new software components there is the challenge of integrating the portfolio into an existing environment. Like other clients I've worked with and other environments I've worked in for many years, this is typical. The applications are undocumented and under patched leading to a mystery for any architect leading change.
We can boil down most architecture development methodologies (ADM) into first understanding the current/baseline state and then envisioning one or more future states. Many pundits emphasize the need to focus on the future/target states. I agree since enterprise architecture (EA) is about where you are going and not so much where you have been.
But to be effective in the future, I contend some focused time needs to be spent on the current state. And specifically on the integration. Integration is always the difficult part of a project (I might put it more coarsely at a cocktail party). While I don't have a case study, my anecdotal experience suggests poorly integrated application portfolios tend to cost more to operate and create entropy when trying to respond to new changes and opportunities.
In the aforementioned project, I was able to get one of our EAs assigned to focus on just integration almost immediately. While we're still early in the process, this EA is uncovering all sorts of information that will greatly assist our future state planning for this solution. This information is driving early decision making that we anticipate will accelerate our efforts moving forward.