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FUDGE: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt about Governance in the Enterprise

Is it better to apply carrots or sticks to get people to move to SOA methodologies?
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Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

Should project teams be rewarded for using shared SOA-compliant services? Or is it more effective to punish those who don't?

I had the opportunity to sit in on InfoWorld's SOA Executive Forum, taking place in New York this week. An interesting thread of discussion coming from the conference was concern around what I will call the FUDGE factor -- Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt around Governance in the Enterprise.

I'm not talking about classic FUD, or the messages vendors throw out to keep customers in line.  Rather, FUDGE is all about the messages that enterprises or SOA leaders throw out to get the rest of their organization to stick to the SOA plan.

There was a revealing moment at a Tuesday session on SOA governance led by MomentumSI's Jeff Schneider. In a room of more than 100 people, MomentumSI's Ed Vazquez asked for a show of hands of who applies incentives within their enterprise to support SOA. One hand went up. He then asked who is within an organization that applies a disincentive for those not building to SOA specs. One more hand went up.

The fact that only two out of 100-plus companies in a group (that can be presumed to be farther along than average in SOA) have even a rudimentary, incentive or disincentive-driven governance system in place is telling. But it's an issue that all SOA-bound organizations will soon have to address: Is it better to apply carrots or sticks to get people to move to SOA methodologies? 

Here's a good example of how more stick and less carrot would work: At a keynote session at InfoWorld, AT&T's Rich Erickson recounted how his group encountered varying levels of resistance to attempts to standardize on reusable interfaces a couple of years back. The resistance seemed to melt away, however, when a senior VP of systems engineering issued a memo. Erickson paraphrased the content of the memo thusly: "Thou shalt use Web services," and "If you don't use Web services, you'll get fired." 

"There's no substitute for strong executive support, Erickson said. "There was quite a sea change after that memo." 

In the interest of developing a positive workplace, maybe its better to incent -- not threaten -- developers, designers, and analysts to stick to the SOA plan. Better and more streamlined development, greater flexibility, more rewarding interaction with user groups, and business growth (which often translates into increases in salaries and bonuses) are very positive rewards.

Pfizer's Jeff Carlson -- who joined Schneider's panel -- pointed out that shared services will ultimately require chargeback systems which offer "a way to charge people who do not use the service." Schneider added, however, that the thought of having to go back and do rework on a component may be punishment enough for not adhering to SOA. 

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