Friday, July 06, 2007


Why the notion of Business Architecture is doomed to fail...

James Tarbell, Brenda Michelson and others have talked about the need for business architecture. I figured I would share my own thoughts as to why business architecture isn't taking off...

First, lets start with acknowledging the fact that most leadersmanagers in large enterprises are lazy. It is easier to test someone's familiarity with a particular technology than it is to assess how much their business knowledge is worth. There are lots of ready-made tests out there for specific things (C++, Java, VB, Smalltalk, etc). By contrast, a superior set of abstractions arising from better business knowledge may end up finishing work far quicker, or changing the nature of the project altogether. But that's not something you can score out of 100 on a test.

In the context of hiring, domain knowledge is deemed to be an irrelevant factor, by virtue of the likelihood that no candidate will have the necessary domain knowledge on his first day on the job. Thus, other factors such as programming skill are considered instead. Of course, that doesn't necessarily explain why established employees with domain knowledge get downsized at the same rate as their peers (or more rapidly, if other factors - such as higher salaries or about to retire and cash out a large pension - make them more attractive targets for layoff).

I wonder which is costlier - teaching a domain expert the required tech skills, or teaching a techie the required domain skills? Before you answer, ask yourself about the cost vs. benefits of outsourcing to places such as India and why IT executives believe they will be successful...

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