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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Communicating Architecture Decisions in Financial Terms

During yesterday's AgileAustin Architect SIG, we had a lively discussion about communicating architecture across various parts of the organization, which was particularly relevant to me as we're now communicating our decisions to a group of about 4,500 where the number was previously less than 40! Good times.

Now that I'm frontal cortex-deep into _The Principals of Product Development Flow_, I stated thinking about communicating architectural decisions in light of economic factors, expanding the communication chain out to the corporate finance types, etc. During this discussion, I remembered a book that I read a while back that presented a series of financial models for software development projects--especially agile software development projects that may be able to fund themselves by releasing the most valuable features early. This one is interesting as it finally gets to that holy grail of terms to couch various technical decisions--total lifetime profit.
The book that I was discussing was _Software By Numbers, Low-Risk, High-Return Development_ by Mark Denne and Jane Cleland-Huang. It was written in 2004 and is still very relevant. While I find that the concepts can be applied in the large, they're also very appropriate to be applied in the context of day-to-day decision making and can be used effectively for arguments for technical debt reduction, doing things "the right way" and so on. The important thing is to frame technical decisions as business decisions, especially when non-technical folks have the final say.

By the way, if anyone wants to borrow this book, just let me know--I'd be happy to bring it to
the next meeting or would just mail it to you.

Thanks again Lee and David for leading this awesome group!

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