Sunday, August 11, 2013

The 'Bottomless Pit' of Current State Analysis in Enterprise Architecture!

So, how many times have we heard this, or had the urge to do this - "Lets document every process, every integration, every data element, every server, every patch, every everything - so we have a clear view of the current state. After all, don't we need to have a comprehensive understanding of current state before proceeding to the future state?"

"NO!", I humbly submit to you. There are many reasons for this, lets survey them:

[-] Losing sight of the future state - Digging into too much detail on current state sidetracks the team from the most important goal, the future state! It might output a detailed inventory of everything that we have today, which begs the question - "How important is it to define my future state?"

[-] Spending precious time and then scrambling -  I have seen it eat up much of the precious planning time while the team is left with little time to do actual future state definition and transition planning.

[-] Fatigue and loss of momentum - With old patterns, problems and sometimes excruciating pain to dig current state data, "transformation fatigue" starts to set in the team and stakeholders. The most enthusiastic time in an initiative is the beginning few weeks, it should be quickly tapped to defining a future state and transition plan from the current state. If only a high level understanding of current state is available, it is sufficient.

In summary, "just enough" analysis of current state is sufficient as you focus your team's energy in defining future state architecture and a transition plan to get there.


  1. although I agree in principle with your thought process however in my humble opinion you are trying to create link between completely different aspects of software engineering. EA design and operational implementation are to different faces of the same coin. One can't justify and override the need for other. Although future state is important for pragmatic implementation of any EA, its important to have a detailed documentation of the existing architecture to keep it operational.

  2. Hi Uttam, so nice to hear from you - after a loooong time! :-)

    Your point is well taken, current state is in no way trivial or unimportant for operational purposes.

    However, when embarking on transformational initiatives or planning for future state archtiecture, too much focus on collecting current state data might lead to issues mentioned in the post - losing sight of the future state, fatigue etc.

    I think the maturity of organizations also has a role to play in this. Some organizations are operationally mature and might not have to spend unhealthy amount of time detailing the current state. For others, we should exercise caution.

    Thanks for your comment, and super to hear from you after a long time!



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