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10 Signs of Bad IT Architecture to Avoid
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10 Signs of Bad IT Architecture to Avoid

How well do you know your IT Architecture - Let me put it in a different way. How confident are you that your IT Architecture is helping you to stay competitive, streamline operations, and improve bottom line?

While it may seem like a trivial issue initially, the fact is, there are many architectural challenges that can cause serious problems if they aren't constantly monitored. Many organizations make the mistake of letting their IT Infrastructure function without any oversight, which leads to inefficient processes, inaccurate data, and many other complications.

Your IT Architecture defines the business operations of your company, including the systems, technologies, applications and databases used. When you choose to disregard the faults in your architecture, you lose valuable time and money. By managing and strengthening your IT architecture, you can shift your attention from immediate concerns to the bigger picture, building a solid foundation upon which a safe and reliable infrastructure is stood up that supports your business model. But how can you tell if your company has taken a wrong turn? Here are Ten red flags that indicate poor IT architecture has taken root in your company.

  1. Manual Re-keying

    Manual re-keying may not be the most expensive consequence of bad architecture, but it is certainly the most evident. Manual re-keying is the process of manually entering data into different systems due to lack of integration, which can lead to costly errors and inefficiencies. It often happens when organizations don’t have an automated process for transferring data from one system to another. This manual process can be very time consuming, leading to decreased productivity and increased costs.

    Manual re-keying is especially problematic when dealing with sensitive customer or financial data. In addition to taking up valuable employee time, manual re-keying can also lead to data silos, data loss and security risks.

    How to dodge it?

    To avoid manual re-keying, organizations should strive for a single source of truth in their IT architecture. Data modelling through automation is key to reducing manual processes and ensuring accuracy. Automation can take many forms, such as APIs, webhooks, and messaging systems.

  2. Dependency on Point Solutions

    One of the most common signs of bad IT architecture is a collection of point solutions. Point solutions are individual applications or services that solve specific problems and do not integrate with each other. This leads to an inefficient system that has no uniform data model and is difficult to maintain or modify. The reliance on point solutions also prevents scalability as these solutions are not designed for scalability.

    In addition, point solutions can lead to a highly fragmented environment where it is difficult to track changes, create updates, and control access. It is also difficult to troubleshoot and identify the root cause of any problem. The lack of standardization also increases operational costs due to the need for multiple customizations and duplicated efforts.

    Finally, the dependency on point solutions makes it difficult to create new products and services. It can take months or even years to integrate a new product or service into the existing infrastructure.

    How to dodge it?

    Businesses should conduct comprehensive assessments to identify integration capabilities of point solutions and eventually standardize the data and processes. We should ultimately aim for a platform approach to consolidate point solutions into a single integrated platform.

  3. Redundant Applications

    The proliferation of redundant applications is another issue plaguing the tech sector. When setting up a system, businesses often include backup parts just in case something goes wrong. Many applications, however, do not necessitate this redundancy, and having an excessive number of applications to manage raises costs, complicates operations, and depletes IT resources.

    It is also possible for applications to become redundant due to poor communication channels, a lack of centralization, or a reluctance to merge existing systems. This state of infrastructure can make it difficult to identify the source of an issue which often delays in addressing problems and impact the efficiency of business operations.

    How to dodge it?

    Create an inventory of your software and uninstall anything you don’t need. Avoid developing redundant software by documenting all existing solutions. Standardizing your IT Architecture framework will help you minimize potential threats. By consolidating your resources in one place, you can get rid of unused assets like hardware, software, and processes.

  4. Data Redundancy

    Data redundancy is the practice of storing the same data in multiple locations, typically to ensure its backup and recovery. Just like in applications, redundancies in data can cause increased long-term costs, decreased performance, and compromised security when it is moved from one place to the other (e.g., physical centers to the cloud) without first checking for them.

    To protect your data in the case of a system failure, backup is an excellent method because in this process, we create a copy of the data for disaster recovery process. On the other hand, issues with data redundancy happens when applications use different data sources or when the data is copied in multiple locations across various systems. It not only leads to data inconsistency but also causes increased data storage costs.

    How to dodge it?

    Check for duplicate or unused information on a frequent basis and discard it. To further facilitate data sharing and acquire a holistic overview of data, it is also advised to adopt Master Data Management (MDM) that brings in various best practices such as data standardization, data normalization, and data deduplication, to ensure consistency.

  5. Too Many Interfaces

    One of the most common pitfalls of bad IT architecture is having too many interfaces. Having multiple points of integration, data transformation, and business process automation can lead to chaos and confusion. Not only does this make it difficult to maintain your architecture, but it also adds complexity and reduces the speed of your organization’s operations.

    Ideally, you should strive for a single point of integration across all applications, systems, and processes. This will help you streamline your data flows and ensure that any changes or updates to your architecture are tracked and documented. It will also help ensure that all of your data is up-to-date, secure, and readily available when needed.

    How to dodge it?

    If you are dealing with multiple interfaces that are affecting the efficiency of your IT infrastructure, start with an audit to evaluate the impact of existing interfaces on the overall architecture. Then implement standard-based interfaces (e.g., RESTful APIs) to simplify the integration. Going forward, adopt a modular approach to reduce the complexity of the systems.

  6. Faux-Elegant Integration

    Elegance over practicality is never a smart move. Faux-elegant architectures are designed to look sophisticated but does not really solve the problem. Instead of using true architectural principles, developers are encouraged to use quick fixes or “hacks” that can only provide a temporary solution. These hacks are often complex, difficult to maintain, and have to be replaced more often than a more permanent solution would have. The result is an increase in time and resources spent trying to keep the system up and running, and often an expensive mess.

    How to dodge it?

    Adopt design thinking following to principles of scalability, flexibility, and maintainability. Make sure that your system has room to grow over time, and always focus on the big picture when making decisions. In the long run, taking the time to create a well thought out architecture will save you money and time.

  7. Kludges or Workarounds

    Workarounds are common but often overlooked signs of bad IT architecture. They are temporary solutions to problems that arise due to limitations in the existing architecture. Kludges involve using inefficient methods to get a job done, while workarounds involve finding ways around existing system limitations. Both types of solutions are costly, requiring more effort and resources than would be required if the architecture was properly designed. Kludges and workarounds can lead to increased maintenance costs and can prevent organizations from scaling or taking advantage of new technologies.

    How to dodge it?

    Sometimes, a non-conventional, frugal innovation saves the day but, when possible, these should be avoided by designing a well-thought-out IT architecture that is adaptable, flexible, and able to accommodate future changes.

  8. Technological Obsolescence

    Even though technological trends come and go, many companies continue to use the same old software and hardware. These businesses are reluctant to invest in new technology due to many reasons, such as the high price of upgrading and the potential consequences of disruption. ‘If something isn't damaged, then there's no need to fix it’, is the philosophy of many C-suite executives. This organizational setup fosters inefficiency and hampers development.

    As time passes, technology becomes more cumbersome and costly to upkeep. It calls for the installation of unnecessary interfaces between existing infrastructure and new devices. Too many system interfaces slow down business processes as processing times increase. Outdated technology also increases security risks.

    How to dodge it?

    Updating and upgrading systems are critical to avoid technological obsolescence. Keep up with industry trends and new developments to keep ahead. Working with experienced IT companies can help you create a solid strategy and secure your systems.

  9. Lack of Documentation

    One of the most common bad IT practices is ignoring the need of proper documentation. A common objection you might hear is “We are agile” – One of the Agile principles is “Working software over comprehensive documentation”. That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left.

    Without clear and comprehensive documentation, IT teams are left without a clear roadmap of what has been done and what needs to be done to maintain the system or address any issues that may arise. It is very difficult for any team to troubleshoot problems, understand existing systems, or onboard new teams. This can lead to needless confusion and frustration, as well as squandered time and resources.

    How to dodge it?

    A robust documentation plan is essential for any IT team to avoid this type of issue. Documentation should be detailed, up-to-date, and simply accessible. Any team member should be able to comprehend it. Having this level of detail will help to maintain your IT infrastructure and resolve issues quickly. Ideally, aim for Change Management.

  10. A Lack of Sustainable, Scalable Security Architecture

    Enterprises can now improve their software application development efficiency, productivity, and innovation by leveraging automation, cloud-based systems, internet-enabled devices, and API-centric environments. However, they have opened up new ways for hackers to compromise the systems that handle confidential information. The issue is that most businesses do not have an overarching architectural framework for handling all aspects of IT security in a uniform and systematic way, which leads to fines and breaches or expensive workarounds, refactoring, and migrations.

    How to dodge it?

    Businesses should establish a set of reliable, standardized procedures that can be easily reported and implemented. Ensure each design is compliant with the company's security and technology standards. The structure built should be malleable enough to accommodate changes. Always keep your sights set on expanding your capabilities, rather than worrying about adapting your tools to meet updated security requirements.

The importance of well-designed systems and application architecture is rising, and the competitive market is driving up development and investment costs for new systems and security. Companies that view technology investments as one-time expenses either ignore the red flags or fail to make necessary improvements. The result is an IT architecture sorely lacking in quality that it threatens the very survival of the business.

Establishing a reliable IT infrastructure should equip you not only to deal with issues as they arise today, but also to face challenges in the future. So, if you're familiar with the architectural issues I've listed, or is there something else that is slowing down your development teams? Don't be afraid to ask for help; simply drop us a note at [email protected]