One kind of growth is pure number. We’ve all seen cases such as a sales team of 10 that worked well, but when it grew to 18 it was not working well. “By the time an organization doubles in size it needs to reorganize,” or so my management at a fast-growing company once told me.
Another kind of growth is functional or missional. If an organization sees opportunity to sell to a given vertical in a geographic region, it may create a tiger team to seize the opportunity. Once the company gets market momentum and knows how to replicate the sales success, it may begin to move the team members into other sales teams and eventually disband the team. Opportunity and success (or recognition of failure) can cause reorganization.
A small organization, such as a hospital, might purchase supplies from a limited number of suppliers and work with a limited number of doctors. A picture of such a hospital’s data integrations (and its org chart) would look very different than the diagram of a major hospital chain’s data integration architecture. The way a small organization might connect the dots between suppliers, doctors, internal applications, etc. simply would not scale and meet the needs of a major hospital chain. A small organization’s integration architecture probably grows through a sequence of projects. A large organization’s data integrations have probably been fundamentally reorganized more than once, and have probably been through more than one distinct architectural stage.
As with organization charts, integration architectures may change as organizational focus changes. One Silicon Valley company is at the moment shifting business models from shipping product to download-only. For their web store approach to succeed, the company is having to revamp its integration architecture to SOA (Service Oriented Architecture). Some of these kinds of integration reorganizations can be described as reorganizations; some feel more like convulsions. The more everything changes — metaphorically, the more that staff functions like HR and Accounting have to be reorganized so that the lines of business can be reorganized — and the shorter the timeframe, the more convulsive the reorganization.
In integration architecture, some metaphorical equivalents of HR or Accounting are the data transport, data transformation, master data management, and other enabling technologies and services in the architecture. The more you use flexible integration architecture “staff functions,” the more you can reorganize instead of convulse.
Liaison Technologies does not operate dating sites. We think all the time about how to provide more flexible integration architecture components and services.
Bad integration architecture is like having an accounting organization that regularly loses invoices, or like having cranky help desk staff. As an organization changes over time, what was good integration architecture (in that it met the needs of the organization) becomes bad. The architecture needs to co-evolve with the organization to keep up with the changing needs of the organization. While maintaining the org chart might be a HR function and maintaining the information architecture might be an IT function, in reality HR and IT reflect decisions made elsewhere. Integration architecture, like an org chart, is an enterprise-wide snapshot of the goals, strengths, opportunities and personality of a business. Some companies often rethink their IT lifeblood because they are succeeding. The fascinating problems in business and technology so often span disciplines and organizations.