Conway’s Law

A primary benefit, as well as risk, in the development of enterprise software within the organization is the opportunity to empower and organize people, by providing an exceptionally powerful medium to digitize the culture and core value proposition of the business. Apparently this isn’t a new idea. Conway’s Law, published in 1968 by Melvin Conway, states:

Organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.

This is absolutely my experience. The organization shapes the software it produces. But the production of software will also shape the organization.

This is a powerful concept. A major opportunity in EIS is not the production of software in itself, but the opportunity to question fundamentals and make collective decisions about stakeholders and the way they relate, both internal and external to the organization.

The production of enterprise systems is not only a technical challenge, it is a sociotechnical challenge. Like most powerful things, this leads companies to very highly positive or highly negative outcomes, depending on the quality of the process.

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