Assessing and mapping AS-IS: one unsustainable practice
Assessing and mapping the current status of an organization, usually called AS-IS, is the starting point of most architecture projects. However, this practice has been proved to be unsustainable.
To justify this approach, people usually use arguments such as: “To evolve it is essential to know where we stand”. Although wise, this argument is no longer suitable in the current fast pacing and constantly-changing world.
Organizational change is increasingly faster and transformation cycles are becoming shorter. However, the perception that this fact enables a more pragmatic and simple approach to the problem of Enterprise Architecture, is commonly ignored.
The previously mentioned assessment phase, and loading the organization current status into a repository or knowledge base, is probably one of the most critical steps in an Enterprise Architecture initiative. This is true, because there is a strong probability that the information collected after finishing the assessment, is already outdated against the reality in the organization. Since this AS-IS assessment is always rather complex and demanding in terms of effort, the thought – or in many cases the certainty – it will soon become obsolete, is a strong argument against an initiative for an Enterprise Architecture project. This is perhaps the main argument of the unbelievers on the benefits of Enterprise Architecture.
Before entering the globalized age we experience today, the flow of information, as well as the pace of organizational change was slow. Transformation cycles last for 5 to 7 years, which enabled an AS-IS assessment useful and valid for at least 2 to 3 years. With the transformation cycles rapidly being reduced, the AS-IS assessment validity is being reduced at the same rate.
We live in an age where what is new now may become obsolete tomorrow. And the same applies to information used for decision making in organizations. The increasing speed of transformation cycles, make AS-IS detail increasingly more irrelevant, so there is less and less need to conduct a detailed assessment of information that reflect the current reality of the organization.
As an example, let’s consider na organization that is planning starting transformation projects within 6 months, and that until then must complete the ongoing projects. In this case, what is the relevance of AS-IS for planning initiatives that will start within 6 months? In fact, the greater the change resulting from the ongoing projects, the lower the accuracy of information currently collected. After 6 months, the AS-IS initially mapped, will no longer mirror the reality of the organization and will not be liable for decision making.
As an extreme, let’s imagine that the ongoing projects would change the entire organization. In this scenario, planning actions to start within 6 months would not require today’s AS-IS, but the TO-BE resulting from the ongoing projects. Better saying, they would need the integration of these two visions, and that is the challenge for Enterprise Architecture in the changing organizations.
Taking last article’s topic, the ability to automatically generate representations/models of the organization is na essential tool for mitigating this problem. We can then extract the information from TO-BE models manually produced by the teams of different projects, and automatically generate an integrated model representing the future reality of the organization according to the completion of ongoing projects.
Comparing to physics, the higher the speed of a body is, less relevant is its position at a given time. In Enterprise Architecture, the higher the speed of transformation of the organization, less relevant is its AS-IS.
Fortunately, assessing what projects are currently implementing (and that will be the immediate TO-BE ) is substantially simpler than to assess what was done in the past, and for what no one really cares. But this will be the subject of the next article
Article published in portal Profissionais de TI