Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Enterprise Architecture: So, exactly what is a best practice?
There’s nothing funnier than someone who has been practicing a particular technology for six months spouting off about them. Well actually there is, and that’s the vendor spouting off about them, especially when the so called best practice is supporting their latest attempt to cover up a weakness in the product. Ever notice which bloggers always talk about best practices? I wonder what they are attempting to hide?
Let's agree that best practices are only best practices when you understand the context in which they are created and are not meant to be religion. Below are a few considerations when noodling them:
- Usually does not account for industry verticals or company culture: Gartner boilerplate templates that are stamped out in an arbitrary fashion need to be customized within a vertical context in order to be truly useful. Organizations are unique in that each has its own characteristics of what works and what doesn't. Presupposed analyst genralizations are a trap.
- Most don't account for the underlying process: Best practices normally demonstrate a procedure that results in a more efficient approach to get the best results. As a result there is often very little attention that is paid to the underlying considerations that are below the surface. This results in a considerable maintenance obstacle since an organization might not then have the expertise to measure and interpret variability. This is probably one of the biggest reasons why India outsourcing sucks.
- Flexibility is paramount: However some when delivered come off so rigid that it is the exact opposite, people try to tailor business to platform, not platform to business. The round peg / square hole metaphor is alive in most shops that observe best practices.
- Best practices typically lack objective measure: One mans best practice, is another mans worst design! When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. This reminds me of PMI indoctrination and CMMi process-orientation.
- There are no easy answers to difficult questions: Has anyone ever asked a question that sounds like: I am attempting to customize the portal navigation to include external resources and security is getting in the way?what might seem a simple thing is nothing of the sort and simply cannot be answered without in depth analysis, and besides there is no best practice here. There are no easy answers to difficult questions, unless you count the default answer of a security "consultant”, which is of course, “no”.
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