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Architecture Review Boards – how is yours working? July 8, 2008

Posted by Chris Eaton in EA, IT Architecture, methodology, methods.
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im just wrapping up in meeting which prompted me to write about the new Architecture Review Board which IBM has deployed to review internal IBM projects, I am a member of this team specifically looking at application and integration architecture and associated tasks and plans. This recent change expands the review to take a full project review rather than specifically focusing on just the IT Architecture.

The term Architecture Review Board continues to imply an IT oriented review of an IT solution so the name has been change to  ‘Design Assurance’. The new approach takes a full project view looking at organisation change, application architecture, data architecture, infrastructure architecture, full lifecycle project management and tasks, business process and value. In fact any query is legitimate. Personally i think this is approach is much better than just a technology review. If the technology works thats great but it does not necessarily mean that a transformation programme will meet its objectives and it is this totality that the DA review is meant to assess.

Within this review there is a delicate balancing act since asking lots of questions drives an extra overhead on the project under review and also an findings such as actions for remediation often come across as critiscm of the project when there are already actions in place to fix the issue or there is good history for why a particular decision was made which you personally or as a team may disagree with.

The Design Assurance review is trying to be very careful with positioning its findings, instead of delivering a list of things which need addressing and walking away, an owner on the DA team itself is appointed to own the resolution of each finding. So be careful what you raise! this does a good job of moderating the findings and is intended to help the project by bringing ‘free’ resources to help address any problems rather than dumping all the work on the project itself.

Whilst I am on the ARB now I have been subject to these reviews as a chief/lead architect on some of the biggest IBM internal projects myself last year,  I vastly prefer this more proactive approach – what other models are  companies using?

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Comments»

1. prabasiva - July 11, 2008

If ARB’s goal is to provide an objective feedback to application team on their application architecture, then it has a real value since it gives an opportunity to pro actively identifies problems and resolve it before it occurs. On other hand, I have had experience working with ARB in the enterprise level (should we consider Linux as our desktop operating system, are we ready to move to next version of SAP, etc). It was waste of company’s money. They created a very complicated processes, approval, board membership, votes and whole bunch of useless stuff. It had no value and caused lots of confusion with in the organization. It was more political than objective assessment. ARB in the enterprise level is useless and in the application level has a great value. – My experience

2. chriseaton - July 11, 2008

yes, it is a difficult balance for an ARB between adding value, and stroking egos, i have definitly experienced this too and is exactly why the DA Review i have written about is supposed to be more helpful than hindering…


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