Architecture Scope


They say, "Work expands to fill the time available to do it". Similarly, architecture updates expand to scratch all that is available for change. It needs to be restricted. The Architecture Scoping process defines these restrictions.

In real life, there are some practical reasons why the scope gets restricted. The organizational authority of the architecture team is limited. They cannot just go on modifying the entire enterprise - even if they feel necessary. One must not forget that the process is to fulfill the stakeholder, their objectives and concerns. A change that is not directly related to it, should not be in scope. And the most important, budget and resources are always scarce. Anything we do is restricted by these. So is any architecture initiative.

Another major technical concern is that we have multiple concurrent activities in progress. Each architect should be limited to his "architecture partition", so that we can be sure that there is no duplication or conflict among the individual efforts.

When we restrict the scope of an architecture, we need to cater to restricting the four dimensions

Breadth


This defines the extent of the enterprise and the limited portion of the enterprise that would be affected by this architectural effort. Wider the scope, more its ripples and effects across the enterprise. In such a case, an effective solution could be to split the mega enterprise into smaller manageable enterprises with defined interfaces. These interfaces could be managed among the enterprises by assigning ownership of each interface - where other groups 'subscribe' to changes in the interface.

With the growth of interconnectivity and distribution of the enterprise itself, these borders get more and more hazy. Hence it is very important to effectively restraint and control the breadth of the architectural scope.

Depth


The depth defines the level of extent to which the architecture should be defined. What is the line of demarcation between the architecture and the following activities like system design, engineering and implementation.

More the depth of the architecture, more rigid it gets, leaving little scope for change in the lower implementation. On the other hand, a shallow architecture does not serve any real purpose. Hence it is important to define the required depth of the architecture.

Time Period


Any architecture attempt requires time to implement. What is the time available, and what is the time this architecture would require. This has to be evaluated and restricted. If the required time is too high, it is more likely to fall off the track. In such a case, one could consider splitting it up into intermediate transient architectures.

Such aspects need to be identified. To do this, we need to restrict the time period of an architecture effort.

Domain


An enterprise architecture should contain all four domains - business, data, application and technology. That is fine in theory. But in real life, an architecture effort that impacts all four would be too huge to be meaningful. Hence, it should be restricted in terms of the domains it should touch.

It is true that the resources and budgets may restrict the scope in domain. But one must understand the risks involved in doing this. It may generate inconsistency and sometimes lead to a technical debt if we force it too much.

Typically, the scope of an architecture is first expressed in terms of breadth, depth, and time. Once these dimensions are understood, a suitable combination of architecture domains can be selected that are appropriate to the problem being addressed.