TIL: 20th July 2023 — scaling architecture conversationally

scaling architecture conversationally§

Software architecture isn't a monologue as Andrew Harmel-Law of Thoughtworks argues in his article.

Scaling architecture conversationally refers to the approach of having architecture discussions and decisions in a collaborative and ongoing manner, involving multiple stakeholders across the organisation. This promotes a decentralised approach to architecture where different teams and individuals can contribute their expertise and perspectives to collectively arrive at the best architectural decisions.

There are four pillars:

  1. Architecture decision records (ADRs) of specified format to capture and track the architectural changes as well as helping the teams learn to make them.
  2. The architecture advisory forum (AAF) that includes the relevant stakeholders and representatives across the organisation, meets very regularly (e.g. weekly) to discuss new proposed decisions and revisit the old ones.
  3. Team-sourced architectural principles to guide and evaluate the decisions (e.g. using the S.M.A.R.T. framework) supporting the business goals.
  4. The technology radar to keep an eye on the trends in tech in a crowd-sourced manner and use them in the ADRs.

There's a follow-up case study from Xapo Bank on how this (among other things) helped decentralise their architecture practice within their switch to the cross-functional Stream Aligned teams.