The Dutch National Architecture Forum (NAF) has a tradition of handing out annual awards. The 2011 project award was won by mijnpensioenoverzicht.nl, a site that gives a combined insight into all your pension information.
Being one of the architects this award directly confronted me with the issue of how the jury would select the winning architecture from all the contestants. Or in other words how can you compare architectures?
The jury took a clever approach and did not value the architecture in isolation. Instead they assessed the effects of the architecture. In particular the following aspects were taken into account.
■ Was the project successful?
■ Was the project realized as specified in the architecture?
■ Was the architecture used in the communication to management?
When the end result is right, the underlying architecture should be right, right?
This indirect approach is defendable, but wouldn’t it be possible to find characteristics of the architecture itself; characteristics that express the inherent quality of the enterprise architecture. This could be aspects like the degree to which the architecture addresses the business requirements. But also quality metrics on the data and the application architecture could be useful. In this area we might be able to reuse metrics from the research on software quality.
Things like size, complexity, dependency structures and repetition are metrics that could be useable to express the quality of architectures. It would be used in the context of formally defined viewpoints, mostly diagrams. Eventually they will become standard functionality of architecture design tools, defined for Archimate and part of the architecture deliverables.
So far for the future thoughts, back to reality
The architecture of mijnpensioenoverzicht.nl is award winning because it turned out to be simple, concise and based on principles that worked well for all involved parties. Enterprise architecture at its best!