The Value of Architecture II

“Why is my IT and software engineering so slow? Why does every new development take so much time?

They are barely delivering new features that we so desperately need. Deadlines are simply not being met. With every new release, there are new problems again. Everything gets delayed and the customers don’t have what they want in the end.

And finally, my software engineering asks for more time and resources to fix the old problems, technical debt, bugs. It seems like a bottomless pit.”

What is the root cause of that? What is the significance of your IT and software engineering? Is it just a cost center delivering features? Or is it a center piece shaping the digitized future?

There is an old article from Philippe Kruchten ( talking about 4 types of work. I adapted his image to emphasize the visibility and the effort more. Those types are:

  • The green stuff: All the features which bring direct value to the customers. That’s what is on the product owner’s roadmap. Obviously visible and something which show progress and improvement.
  • The red stuff: is also very visible but in the negative sense. That’s all the bugs and defects you know you have to fix.
  • The yellow stuff: is the structural part, the architectural runway you need to create to be able to build features on top in the future. Very hard to calculate or to break down. This is the groundwork, the basement of a skyscraper. You build it and you barely see progress because it’s the invisible part.
  • The black stuff: is the nasty invisible part. The things of the groundwork you by purpose postponed to do it later because of a strong timeline or even worse the nasty workarounds not carefully thought through. On the other hand, changing requirements, technical innovation and a lot of external and internal factors can lead to the fact that solutions need to be changed. This is called technical debt because it is a “debt” you need to pay for to change it.

The invisible part is often undervalued. Whatever you call it, its fundamental and structural. It is the architectural runway and technical debt (which is kind of a “defect of the architectural runway”) which deserves attention and focus.

When you want to build a luxury resort on a remote side you need to build and fix the infrastructure first not just rely on the access road which existed and served quite well up to now.

How can I help you on that journey?