Let it go… and let it break

I guess our business is much like any enterprise in the sense that the pressure to find that extra saving, that extra efficiency is always present. When combined with the increasing sophistication of end user computing (EUC) tools this can lead to challenges for architects. Screen scrapers, macros, those huge spreadsheets that only one person understands enough to maintain? Yeah, I guess these are facts of life for many organisations.

As the sophistication grows it’s tempting to try and bring some form of governance to bear. To try and turn the tactical into, if not strategic, then at least managed tactics. But be careful!

Any form of governance has an overhead associated with it; be that time, effort or, yes, bureaucracy. While this overhead is an investment when it comes to areas with high business value or importance it can be a killer for lower value or importance activities. Quite literally, instead of trying to improve business value you can end up stifling it.

Businesses deploy EUC tactically because they can. For a small investment they can get small incremental improvements; business efficiency is often about improving 100 things by 1% not one thing by 100%. As well as the risk of stifling these 1%s, what’s likely to happen is that another “business improvement” area will spring up elsewhere without your governance oversight. Why? Because they can and the need for those 1%s hasn’t gone away.

Sure, you need to set some ground rules to protect your core; things like running macros at off peak times or forcing a wait cycle after each transaction submission. But once you’ve protected your core let it go. Let the business get their 1%s. Let them be as creative as we know they can be!

But be clear with your management team. By letting it go, you are also saying “I will let it break. I do not give any commitment that future changes will take into account your EUC. If you choose to improve high value or importance business activities like this, then on your own head be it”.

Provided you are clear about this last piece then the business is free to chase those small efficiency improvements that they need, without risking the business and without consuming your time in the governance of low value activities.

Let it go… and let it break.

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About EBAnous

EBAnous works as a business architect for a FTSE-100 company in the south-east of the UK
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