Sunday, December 5, 2010

Crosstalk reviews architecture

"Crosstalk" has a new online website that presents the magazine in a truly online format. I personally like the "flip through the magazine" functionality....a really easy way to see the whole issue quickly.


This month's edition is dedicated to architecture, ordinarily the domain of system engineering, but a discipline I firmly believe PM's should embrace as necessary in every project.


Architecture is the arching narrative that pulls the whole WBS together. And since the WBS is the object of the schedule, architecture helps to integrate all the project pieces. Architecture is an abstraction of the WBS;  its that level of detail that's usually of interest and important to sponsors, stakeholders, and beneficiaries .... therefore, it's important to PMs. 

And, here's the clincher for me: architecture plays directly into risk management.  To see why, consider these properties of architecture:

Topology and protocols:
Architecture tells us the topology of the system, product, or process. Topology tells us about hierarchy, interconnectedness, and whether nodes are reached by point-to-point, hub-and-spoke, or some mesh circuitry.  In some cases, architecture gives the protocols, that is: the rules, by which elements of the system tie together.  Architecture gives form to requirements. 
Cohesion, coherence, and coupling:
Cohesion is a measure of "stickiness", the degree to which elements of the project outputs will hang together under stress, work together well in the environment, and not do chaotic or disparate things when stimulated differently.  Good cohesion is good and lowers risk.
Coherence is a measure of sympathetic reinforcement.  Coherence gives rise to the adage: "the sum is greater than the parts".  High coherence is generally good and lowers risk
Coupling is a measure of interference or dependency between units, subsystems, and modules.  In general good architecture respects natural boundaries; disrespect leads to strong coupling and propagation of errors, stress, and failures.  Loose coupling that traps effects before they propagate to other components is generally good, and lowers risk.

Summary: pay attention to architecture!

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