What do I do for a living? Magic stuff…

People don’t understand me. Well, people at work don’t really understand what I do. Especially, project managers get frustrated when I (or my team) haven’t delivered some obscurely titled document. I broke their check list, and now they have to worry about the project running late.

The people who believe they pay for the new IT system get even more flustered when someone tries to make the delivery complex by talking about doing stuff beyond popping the installation CD into the server, hit install and choose a few configuration options. Especially when they have seen the new Cloud technology presentations – it is just a cloud; how hard can it be?

And why can’t I show them “my” architecture? Real architects can, but those real Architects don’t think of architects like me as architects. I guess, I’m not.

Last time I took my son with me to work during school holidays, he looked at me in amazement: “You get paid for using the computer to make drawings? Cool!”


Yes, it is a pretty amazing job….

Ghost structures


Geoff Manaugh’s blog post about “ghost streets” (Bldgblog) is fascinating. Cities around the world are filled with streets that are no longer streets. It isn’t too hard to spot the diagonal, no-longer-street “street” in the above photo because of its clear impact to the surrounding buildings.

It seems to me that this phenomenon doesn’t just apply to city streets. The simple act of integrating two (or more) things will inevitably intertwine subsequent design changes. City streets are a form of integration with the unique property of being visible from above. While maybe not as visible, these ghost structures also exist in software systems (and not to be confused with “architecture”).


Spot the Agile cowboys

We live in interesting times.

Microsoft is selling Linux-based software. Banks are adopting Agile.

I must admit that I’ve had a mixed relationship with Agile, but I was pleasantly surprised after attending Ilan’s Scrum training this week. I left with a sense of relief as common sense seems to prevail.

Agile isn’t about speed; it’s about delivering business value as soon as possible. It’s all about de-risking your project delivery. Who wouldn’t want that?

Agile doesn’t exclude planning; you still need a plan, but, importantly, you can choose when to detail the needed parts of the plan. Yes, architects have historically been known for trying to detail too much, too early, but that’s the anti-pattern of decision-making without proper understanding of context. Good plans stop you from hitting the wall; and a good architecture is part of a good plan.

Agile doesn’t exclude documentation. Agile is all about good team communication, but you cannot make everyone part of the team; time (before and after the project), location (different floors, buildings, cities, or countries) and organisation (external stakeholders e.g., regulator and customers, or just plain size) will always be challenging – have a back-up plan. Good documentation is still a good form of communication; and one of the reasons we prosper.

Spot the Agile cowboys next time you review the Definition of Done or attend a stand-up.