Agile Architecture

A few weeks ago I had a nice chat with a senior manager in a large IT organization. This company is transforming to agile methods, first in R&D and now in IT. He is part of the enterprise architecture and IT governments group. His fear is that with more and more agile teams, the group wont have an influence on the project’s architecture decisions.

One can argue that in the pure agile world, the architecture does no come from architects. It will be done during the project from the team. Okay. What level of architecture are we talking about? System architecture or enterprise architecture? These are different levels of planning. One build houses and the others plan the city.

But what is the goal of enterprise architecture? Is it that just the projects have to follow a plan? No. The goal is that the architecture supports the projects, that future projects have less costs assigned. In agile words: the enterprise architecture must improve the velocity of a team. Hence enterprise architects are stakeholders. They must work with the product owner to on long term goals.

I honestly think that the enterprise architecture must get its input from the business strategy. If you have a business strategy that is somehow a longterm goal of the business, you can align the architecture to it. But which company has a well defined strategy? Sometimes the business does not have a strategy. All they say is that IT must be flexible. What if in an agile company the enterprise architectures takes a main source of input from the projects. Enterprise architects work in the project with the team and the product owner to form its high level plans for the architecture. Yes – enterprise architects must get involved.