Avoid The 5 Deadly Sins Of Pega Architecture

Avoid The 5 Deadly Sins Of Pega Architecture

Micah Krebs

Designing and building a new Pega solution involves numerous critical decision points. The quality of these decisions directly affects whether the solution successfully delivers the expected business value. Often, Pega solutions fail because organizations do not document a set of architectural guidelines and decisions to stay on the path to success.

Just like the "Seven Deadly Sins", first compiled by Pope Gregory I, provide a set of guidelines for pitfalls to avoid in life, there are several “deadly "sins" of Pega architecture that you will need to avoid. Falling victim to any of these can spell disaster for your Pega implementation and undermine achieving the business value expected from your company’s investment:

  1. Greed. Digital replication is the sin of architects looking at digital transformation as nothing more than a platform shift. Very rarely will moving from one technology to another result in a more valuable business process. Instead, the value comes from the net new business value generated minus the cost of implementing a new platform. Many clients fall into the trap of  replacing legacy systems without a solid business value driver to focus on. While adopting new "bells and whistles" through a new platform can provide some minor value boosts, those boosts pale in comparison to fully utilizing a new platform as an opportunity to re-imagine the process. You may gain a library of new capabilities through this type of replication, but the cost will be felt by your end users. 

  1. Envy. One temptation that comes most naturally to architects is to take an “engineering-first” approach to designing new solutions. Many solutions are loaded with features and capabilities simply because they exist elsewhere or are being used in another solution. Such designs prioritize technical prowess and complexity over addressing the core drivers of business value. This leads to implementations that fall short of or entirely miss the original objective. It is critical to align on a collective result that is focused on business value. This alignment will help the entire team to maximize value delivery efficiency.

  2. Gluttony. When architecting Pega architecture, there is a flexible gray area between too much and too little layering. When architects don't fully understand Pega's layering capabilities, they often make mistakes. They might place components meant for the entire enterprise directly within a specific use case, or they might add unnecessary or redundant layers. These errors can complicate implementation and maintenance. As a result, many clients have experienced unexpected cost increases in subsequent projects. They might assume a capability is reusable in a new use case when it isn’t, or they might request a minor change that seems simple to them but has a high implementation cost because it is too closely tied to other functionality.

  3. Sloth. Data architecture often takes a back seat during the early stages of architecting Pega solutions. Architects often focus on fitting new capabilities and features that can be gained with the Pega platform and neglect to put work into the foundation that will determine their effectiveness. I have seen the result of this decision time and time again with clients. Their applications are not equipped to handle large volumes of requests or expanded use cases. These applications often lead to expensive recovery or refactor projects and eat into business value. Taking the time to design a strong foundation will ensure you are prepared to weather these storms and secure business value for your stakeholders.

  1. Pride. Many Pega implementations don’t consider the user experience during the solution design phase. This is how teams create applications that the business can "live with". While these applications can be a source of pride in terms of technical skill or achievement, they often share the same pain points as legacy applications, have poor user experiences, and ultimately fail to deliver on key business value drivers.

Throughout my experience with Pega, I’ve seen firsthand how many of these “sins” have derailed large transformation projects and resulted in extended periods of "hell" through refactoring, unmet business objectives, and career-limiting experiences. Take time to compare your current Pega architecture against this short list of common pitfalls. Avoiding them will give your team the best chance to successfully deliver business value to your stakeholders and customers.  

External Links

  1. In AD 590 Pope Gregory I presents the commonly referred to “7 Deadly Sins”
  2. Pega’s extensive documentation on technical architecture design
  3. Pega’s insights on situational layer cake
  4. Why you Pega Transformation Projects Keep Failing and What to Do About It
  5. Build Your AI Empire On Firm Data Architecture Footing
  6. 5 Ways to Avoid Feature Bloats
  7. Steve Jobs’ powerful thoughts about driving value by starting with the user experience
Micah Krebs