Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Enterprise Architecture: Top Down or Bottom Up?

Architects at large tend to debate solutions from the perspective of whether they are top down or bottom up. From my seat, I tend to have preferences but otherwise choose which ever path is most expedient over the path which is more pristine...

Sometimes folks desire top down, not because they feel that the need for executive buy-in is the right thing but because they believe something will fail and they need cover. The ability to say that you had no say in the matter is a wonderful thing where as bottom-up forces accountability on folks lower in the food chain.

One of the more interesting things is that a person debating top-down vs bottoms-up needs to take into consideration is historically which one has had better results. Of course, top-down has the advantage that even mediocre delivery will be declared success while bottoms-up mediocrity will probably result in throwing daggers. If we ignore the whole perception is reality crowd for a moment and truly think about success, then I think our conclusions would be different.

Below are three atypical IT initiatives appropriately classified and I would like for folks to comment on which one they feel has been more successful.

Top Down
  • Outsourcing

  • Implementing CMMi and/or PMI

  • Identity Management within a SoX context

  • Bottom Up
  • SOA

  • Agile Methods

  • Open Source

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