Make it your rule, not a conjecture.
Every IT system solution should have a clear focus on 3 key attributes of quality. 3QF: The 3 key factors of quality delivery. Elevated to prominence , in your organization, as much as possible.
The 3 quality factors are
The order is not significant. After project context and scope are understood, good IT Architect should always ask these questions:
Is the Solution:
- Scalable enough?
- Resilient enough?
- Compliant enough?
These 3 key questions should be asked regardless of the level of the project. From micro to macro solutions. From applications all the way up to the enterprise architecture.
3 key quality factors (3QF) should be pervasive on every IT Architecture level. Why?
3QF focus increases ROI
Business Management will use its right to be diligent, and will surely ask: is the insistence on these 3 attributes feasible? Is this not increasing “Time to Market” and thus decreasing the ROI?
My answer: It will in the short run, but not in the long run. Look into the whole picture. Consider the solution timeline in the widest possible sense.
And this is directly related to the projected longevity of the IT system, the dark force leading to the pain many enterprises are experiencing today with legacy systems.
Projected longevity is directly related to the observed system position on the organisation’s IT landscape. Confusing? Here is the mandatory diagram, from your good architect:
Y-axis is simply the level of 3QF focus while planning and the amount of effort when applying the 3QF, at the very beginning.
The message is clear: he who pays attention to 3 Key Q Factors (3QF) will benefit in the medium and long run. And he who does not, he will have a quick and inferior solution, delivering some small benefit in the short run but will experience diminishing ROI in the long run. Forever nearing the painful zero. How is that working?
Please consider the use case hidden in the above deceptively simple diagram.
Imagine Sys “X” and Sys “Z” are two competing solutions of the same requirements. Made by two competitors started building at the same time this (for example ) new kind of platform, based on some new but proven concept; a lot of users will need to solve a real problem. (hint: Cloud Computing) There was obvious money to be made, market to be conquered and investors to be pleased.
Sys “X” management has decided they will not listen fully to the resident Architect and will not focus (at all) on this “3QF thing”. Thus, Syst “X” was built rather quickly by neglecting the 3QF. And then released quickly to the cheer and joy of the Sys “X” company.
Sys “Y” started in approx. the same time. But not before the full 3QF picture was understood and projected risks mitigated. The immediate outcome was a more expensive solution with measures in place not obviously logical to everyone involved. The immediate consequence was that the ROI curve has started to slide downwards at the very beginning.
What happened next?
Time has passed, the number of users has grown for both platforms. But the Sys “X” is very expensive (and hard) to scale up, because it was not architected to be scale-able. And one of the F’s in 3QF is scalability. Sys X vendor (as an immediate consequence of not planning for resilience, yet another F of the 3QF’s ) by now experiences very high costs of maintaining the promised level of service this system provides. This is because they (by now) have to increase the necessary infrastructure size, to meet the user’s peaks in demand, for there is no other way. And that is one very short-lived stop-gap measure. At that stage, the Sys X vendor realizes, it can not keep up with the demand.
Simply system was not Architected to not-expand and users are fast to expand in numbers. Very soon, Sys X performance drops seriously and users are angry, and users are leaving. Paying visitors will always leave the party first. ROI inevitably suffers. That is the bottom ROI curve on the diagram. And it is by now very difficult to keep Sys “X” in the business.
While, in parallel, the other Sys “Z” was pricier to start with. Architects insisted on 3QF focus, from day 0. But in this case, they were listened to. Inevitably System “Z” was not that quick to the market as the competitor’s Sys “X”.
Focus on 3QF and inevitable testing focus were the imperatives. System “Z” was released a bit later and it was also more expensive than “X”. ROI immediately dipped in the short run. But then people started talking about good experiences, as this System was obviously very fast and resilient, on its own but also when compared to competing Sys X.
The number of Sys Z, paying users has rapidly grown. Resilience and scalability were architected, designed, and implemented from the beginning. Increasing the capacity of system “Z”, was easy and painless and cheap and easy to administer and monitor. Users were happy and even more of them came, especially disappointed users flocking over from Sys “X”.
And all of a sudden Sys “Z” owners have arrived at the point where ROI curve started heading forever upwards. Since then System “Z” has grown even more and is still in the business, and still returning handsomely what was invested in it.
So, whatever is being planned, you better listen to your good IT Architects if they advise (in the planning stage) seemingly expensive measures to (sometimes radically) elevate the 3 Q factors, aka 3QF.
That will lead to concepts and solutions built on the foundations of the sound principles. And that will certainly increase the initial cost of the delivery. But always remember this story.
Those 3 factors, properly introduced, will definitely decrease the inevitable IT crisis “down the line” that many are experiencing today with legacy systems that are either not scalable, or robust enough, or simply not compliant. This is sometimes called “technical debt”. (For a real-life example look no further than Windows OS. )
Enterprise and 3QF
Enterprises are a good example of the problems amassed through time just because some “mission-critical”, System X was hastily delivered in the past, without 3QF principles applied.
Do keep in mind we are talking about legacy IT systems here. Not implementation details. Do not view them in isolation on the whole IT landscape of one enterprise.
Compared to legacy big-iron hardware, legacy software is small and extremely dynamic. The software can and will increase its 3QF over time. But, not so the “big iron”. The underlying legacy IT infrastructure. Often hastily piled up. while happily ignoring the 3QF. And the sooner the BIG mistake is recognized the better. As very few veteran CTO’s have survived to tell. Get rid of legacy hardware ASAP. Rise the 3QF awareness.
Wait there is more!
We have not mentioned Compliance. One-third of the 3QF. Is there anything more important than Compliance in an Enterprize, you might ask? Well … let’s not go there, right now.
We are where we are, it is 2021Q1 and Compliance turns out to be problem number one. “Numero uno”. The big hidden dark matter cloud of the Technical Debt in each Enterprise.
Funny thing is, The Cloud migration is the golden opportunity to solve it once and for all. Migrate the legacy data in a compliant manner, and it’s compliance levels will dramatically increase. Then we can tackle the GDPR next.