>Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Application Development and Enterprise Architecture

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The Wall Street Journal, 24 September 2007 reports that “new [DIY] tools let businesspeople avoid the IT department and create their own computer applications…and no knowledge of computer code is required.

How does this benefit users?

  • “Users say they are saving time and money by creating their own applications”
  • They “are able to build exactly what they want, without having to explain what their looking for to someone else.”
  • “Others like being able to wite programs that would have been too minor or personalized to bother the IT department with.”
  • “Adjusting DIY programs…can also be simpler than asking the IT department for program tweaks or updates.”

What are the downsides?

  • “There is some risk in the lack of a track recod for such companies [offering these DIY services], and in the possibility that a provider will fail, leaving its customers without access to the applications they developed online.”
  • “Some businesspeople may underestimate the effort required to write their own programs.”

Strangely enough, the article leaves out some of the biggest gaps with DIY application development, such as:

  • Approval by the organization’s IT governance to ensure that the ‘right’ projects are authorized, prioritized, funded and monitored for cost, schedule, and performance.
  • Compliance with an organization’s enterprise architecture to ensure such things as: business alignment, application interoperability and non-redundancy, technology standardization, information sharing, and strategic alignment to the target architecture and transition plan.
  • Assuring IT security of applications systems, including confidentiality, integrity, availability, and privacy.
  • Following a defined, repeatable, and measurable structured systems development life cycle (SDLC) approach to application development.

The WSJ article actually compares DIY application development to when businesspeople learned to create their own PowerPoints presentation rather than having to run to the graphics departments to build these for them.

While there may be a place for DIY application development for small user apps (similar to creating their own databases and presentations), from a User-centric EA perspective, we must be careful not to hurt the enterprise, in our efforts to empower the end-users. A balanced and thoughful approach is called for to meet user requirements (cost effectively and quickly), but at the same time protect enterprise assets, meet strategic goals, and assure overall governance of IT investments.

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