Kochrezept Lean Architecture

Lean Architecture Cooking Recipe – Ingredients

Welcome to our series of articles “Recipe Lean Architecture”. This first part is about the ingredients for a tasty menu. Are you a managing director or IT manager in a medium-sized company? Then take a seat – shortly will be served!

First ingredient: A simple language

The most important ingredient for describing architectures in IT is a language that is understood by IT architects just as much as by employees from the business units. Pictures and icons are best here because they are easy to understand. The authors of ArchiMate thought so too.

ArchiMate covers these areas of IT architecture:

  • Business skills
  • Business processes
  • Applications
  • Technology

Within these levels there are defined “artifacts”, such as services or even components. In addition, ArchiMate defines the possible relationships between these elements.

Examples are

  • Application serves service
  • Technical component uses interface

At the same time, ArchiMate gives architects the greatest possible freedom in the use of the various elements. You can therefore model a business process in the same way as applications used and their interfaces.

ArchiMate can be used together with any process model. In our estimation, however, most architecture frameworks are far too complex for the midmarket.

Ingredient number two: A simple tool

Surely you know the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In this respect, a sheet of paper and a few colored pencils would be enough to set up Lean Architecture Management.

And in many cases, companies of all sizes do exactly that: Architectural information is often written down in text documents and pure images. Visio and PowerPoint are certainly the classics here … 🙂

The disadvantage of this is that the information is not completely machine-readable:

  • In a drawing, for example, an application is represented as a rectangle in a certain color.
  • For an application component, a rectangle in a different color is also selected and the two are connected by a stroke.
  • Neither the exact properties of the application nor the relationship is specified.

Thus, analyses of correlations are not readily possible. Especially not when we are talking about complex architectures that “don’t fit on a sheet of paper”.

A special tool for modeling architectures, on the other hand, has the architectural language “built in”. Drawings are also created here, but the individual elements and their relationships are stored in a database structure or object-oriented.

Thus, different views can be modeled and interrelationships can be analyzed. Examples:

  • In which business units is application “X” used?
  • Which applications are affected when server “Y” is to receive a version upgrade?

The market holds a variety of applications that enable modeling and analysis. In most cases, many more functions are available. Let’s take a look at that in the following.

Of learning curves, investments and development paths

If Lean Architecture is to be introduced or realigned in a company, we inevitably have to deal with how much effort it will take. In our experience, there are two main cost drivers:

  • Investments in necessary hardware, licenses or service fees
  • Costs for the training of employees

If we want to introduce Lean Architecture Management quickly, it is of course important to keep investments low and to choose tools that have a low barrier to entry.

Here our clear recommendation is to use ArchiMate and start with the free tool Archi.

Archi can be easily installed locally on a computer and brings a graphical overview of the ArchiMate standard. For an introduction to the topic, the Youtube playlist “Getting to know Archi” is quite suitable. To complete the picture, let us now also look at the limitations of this approach.

Archi is made for individual users

The concept of Archi requires a local installation, as well as the generated models are stored locally in an internal format. In this respect, the use of the tool and joint work on architectural models is not possible.

If Lean Architecture Management is to be expanded, a shared repository and multi-user operation is mandatory.

The big advantage of ArchiMate and Archi is that there is a standardized exchange format with “ArchiMate Open Exchange”. This means that a loss-free change to a “larger” mold is possible without any problems.

We have tested the export and import with the following tools:

Archi offers only a few analysis tools

A critical success factor for lean architecture management is that architecture information is always up-to-date and can be viewed by all employees.

Archi allows this in principle (see here), but the analysis is limited to the display of defined relationships. The weighting and evaluation of dependencies is not possible.

The creation of dashboards with key figures for different user groups is also reserved for the “larger” tools.

As a third ingredient we take ...

Our understanding of Lean Architecture Management is that we also involve the business units. Then – and only then – can architecture management bring benefits to the company. For example, we can answer the following questions:

  • Which business capabilities are supported by which applications?
  • Are multiple applications used for the same functionality?
  • In which areas can processes be optimized and, if necessary, costs saved?

So that you can get started quickly, we have “worked ahead” for you. The American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) offers a good working basis with the “Process Classification Framwork”.

From this we have made a model that you can open and further edit directly in ArchiTool. Here you can download the model:

For more details, see the other articles in this “Recipe” series.

Conclusion and outlook

With ArchiMate and Archi, a quick start into Lean Architecture Management is possible. However, we recommend to align and plan the introduction of architecture management with clearly defined goals.

In the next part of the “Recipe for Cooking” series, we’ll take a common look at the steps involved in developing a complete model.

How did you like this article? What information can be added? Write it in the comments!

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