NQ Logic

Technology | Strategy | Consulting

If It Ain't Broke, Fix It

There is no typo in the title.

I do understand that it’s a bit provocative but this idea came to me after looking at so many different architecture diagrams in the different lines of business I have been involved with.

No matter which industry, location, company size or age or IT budget, the common term to describe any company system architecture diagram is COMPLEX.

Example of an Enterprise Application Map

It is so complex that today large multinational companies have dedicated and full-time experts to maintain system architecture diagrams (with an S at the end). They are called Enterprise Architects. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against them, I was even one of them at one point in my professional career.
My point is that it doesn’t have to be complex, but it is unfortunately a direct consequence of how we run businesses. Rarely do you have a System Simplification line in the IT budget.

To adapt to this particular situation, IT people develop the now famous culture of patch : “Don’t touch it, it’s working now”. With hundreds of different protocols and languages, and very often millions of lines of code across six decades, the landscape is at least convoluted, if not downright scary, to maintain.

In society, the multiple generation family in the same house is good for transfer of traditional customs and social cohesion but, it is not suitable nowadays in the IT realm. The three technology generations living under the same roof (Mainframe, Client/Server, and now Web) is a difficult problem, untouched by most CxO’s and will become only more complex with the next generation (Virtualization phase).

Every opportunity to improve and optimize a system at every levels should be taken, but the risk is tremendous in the ever-changing technology world. And more often than not, executive initiative and support is lacking to do so (nobody ever gets fired by refusing to do a high-risk project).

The few business leaders who understand how to maneuver through this complexity are today the race’s front runners. If decisions are not made today to simplify systems tomorrow, time will impose an extremely costly decision on each and every business not involved in it today.

[Title is based from the Original Quote]

IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT - "Any attempt to improve on a system that already works is pointless and may even be detrimental. Government official Bert Lance (1931- ) was quoted in the May 1977 issue of 'Nation's Business' as saying, 'If it ain't broke don't fix it.'

From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" (1996) by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

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