Five Principles for the Incremental SOA Analysis

After last week’s posting, I thought I should say more about incremental SOA analysis. The following is from Chapter 10 in Web Services, Service-Oriented Architectures, and Cloud Computing.

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) projects are no different from other IT projects in that larger projects tend to fail and issues regarding change can scuttle projects. This chapter introduces incremental SOA analysis. It aims to improve the project selection process in a way that also improves the chance of success for the selected project. This analysis takes into account both project size and the human change issues discussed in the previous two chapters.

The incremental SOA analysis uses three tools that address change issues. Two of the tools were discussed in earlier chapters: force field analysis and the resistance issues and suggestions worksheets. This chapter introduces a third tool: the decomposition matrix. The tools are intended to engage people in such a way that they can come to their own resolution on what might be causing human change issues.

Tools
People are much more likely to deal better with change issues if they are engaged in the change process. Chapter 8 suggested possible ways to address change issues. Of those suggestions, the three tools used in this chapter allow you to:

  • Use a second set of eyes
  • Really listen
  • Communicate at many levels
  • Seek appropriate avenues to involve people
  • Get resistance out in the open
  • Ask for participation and form partnerships

It is important to try using all three tools in a group setting—with the appropriate participants, of course. The tools are intended to get people talking and, hopefully, thinking differently about their design work.

Force Field Analysis
Chapters 5–7 discussed force field analysis. It engages people in the process of identifying change issues. Force field analysis can be used in a group setting if you use something like a whiteboard or flip chart.

Worksheet for Resistance Issues and Suggestions
The worksheet for resistance issues and suggestions introduced in Chapter 8 also allows a group to problem solve. As with force field analysis, the worksheets can be used with whiteboards or flip charts. The worksheets start with the resistance issues identified in the force field analysis.

Decomposition Matrix
The decomposition matrix tool generates either business process or data flow diagrams. It does this using an algebra for design decomposition.

A feature of the decomposition matrix is that it does not look at all like a business process or data flow diagram. Business process diagrams, for example, are a great way to design a workflow. The problem for most of us, however, is that if we are familiar with a given workflow, it is often difficult to see how it could be significantly different. We all tend to repeat or recreate what we know. The decomposition matrix, however, requires us to only think about inputs, outputs, and how they relate to each other. The diagrams are generated for you based on the matrix of inputs, outputs, and relationships. I have the decomposition matrix tool implemented on this website.

Five Principles for the Incremental SOA Analysis

The incremental SOA analysis uses these three tools in a way that improves the chances of success for a project. There are five principles that provide the basis for the incremental SOA analysis:

  1. Make projects as small as possible. This has already been discussed in the previous chapter, but in this technique “small” has a specific meaning. Projects involve only a single atomic task in the business process diagram generated from the business process analysis. For example, each of the tasks in Figure 10.2 would be a separate project.
  2. Involve stakeholders appropriately and as much as possible. Engaging the appropriate people was discussed in Chapter 8. The incremental SOA analysis is designed for this type of engagement.
  3. Make decisions as late as possible. The later you can make a decision, the more likely you will have accurate or more complete information on which to make your decision.
  4. Weaken the restraining forces within the project as much as possible. Chapter 5 introduced force field  analysis and described why weakening restraining forces is often better than strengthening driving forces. By weakening restraining forces, you are increasing your chances of success.
  5. Realize that your SOA will never be done. For most organizations, an SOA will be ever changing because it will need to respond to the changing nature of business and technology. The primary goal of this incremental SOA analysis is to eventually position your organization so that it can respond quickly to those changes. It will provide you with a loosely coupled (see page 31) architecture that should improve your organization’s ability to change. A secondary goal is to leave you with functioning architecture whenever you stop. Budgets and other demands often derail the best-laid development plans. With this type of analysis, you should be able to restart your SOA development at some later time if work is suspended for some reason.

Figure 10.5 shows the process for incremental SOA analysis. The workflow shown in Figure 10.5 is my suggestion for how to implement the five principles for the
incremental SOA analysis.

Figure 10.5 Incremental SOA analysis.

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Published:May 29, 2013

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