Our client, an internationl financial services provider, had initiated a transition towards an agile organization (Scaled Agile). In the course, this had raised the question of how fundamental architecture decisions should be dealt with in the future. On the one hand, there were concerns that larger degrees of team autonomy and self-organization might increase an already sizeable growth of technical debt. On the other hand, an upcoming large-scale transformation required a stable decision framework and clear directions.
Our assignment was to develop a governance framework for architectural decision making complementing the targeted agile organization model. The framework was to support agile operations and working in autonomous teams while, at the same time, to ensure that no important decisions were taken to the disadvantage of the overall enterprise and technical debt was managed appropriately.
Starting from the planned target organization model and using different agile frameworks like SAFe®, O-AA® and the Spotify model as an input, a tailored governance model was developed for the client. The key principle of the concept was to maintain a high level of congruence between the future team structure on the one hand and the main building blocks of the long-term target architecture on the other (thereby adressing Conway's Law). The authority for domain-specific decisions was delegated to the team-level, accordingly. Cross-domain decisions and the corresponding communication processes were instead assigned to an overarching Community of Practice (CoP) for architects. The framework was by intention documented in a lighweight fashion only and comprised fundamental principles, role descriptions as well as simple interaction diagrams for typical decision situations.
The result of our engagement was an easy-to-understand governance framework for architecture decisions supporting the attained agile way of working while at the same time making clear provisions for sustainable architecture decisions aligned with corporate strategy and objectives. The framework is currently validated within a pilot and shall be implemented hereafter.
Agile Architecture Governance Model
Management Consultant EA
Dr. Christian Schmidt
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