Who is your Chief Simplification Officer?
One of THE biggest challenges in companies today is complexity. To be more specific, unnecessary complexity resulting from silo behaviors and piece-meal point solutions. Businesses today are already extremely complex with the challenges of multiple products, multiple channels, global scale, higher customer expectations, and rapid and constant change, so we certainly don’t want to make the IT solutions more complex than they need to be. That said, I’m on the side of NO we don’t need a CSO as this blog recently surveyed its readers. We just need a business architecture practice that does what it’s supposed to.
Notice that I said business architecture rather than enterprise architecture. You certainly need an enterprise perspective in order to not re-invent solutions that already exist in one part of the company and to think about the broad-based implications of every change. But the reality is that the complexity of IT systems mirror the complexity of business operations. If business units operate independently and make decisions in silos, then the resultant IT systems will reflect the same level of fragmentation. So rather than establishing another C-level role in an organization, I suggest implementing a business architecture practice.
A good place to start is to establish a couple of key architectural principles such as:
- All change initiatives must improve the customer or end-user experience. Simplicity starts by understanding business operations and how changes impact internal or external users.
- Every project to build a new system must include the funding to retire a legacy system. If the legacy infrastructure is particularly complex, the policy should be to retire two legacy systems for each new one for a period of time.
- Part of the definition of a new system, database or report, must also specify at what point it will no longer be required and include a framework for how to turn it off.
Finally, to quote Albert Einstein, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” In other words, we need to keep in mind that business today is very complex so attention to details in the planning stage are essential.