Lost In Translation: A handbook for information systems in the 21st century
Nigel Green, Carl Bate
Evolved Technologist Press; First edition 2008
172 pages paperback
Normally, I do not write reviews for bad books. In this particular case, I will because for some strange reason even after 5 years in the wild it still has only five-star reviews on Amazon.co.uk.
This book aims to present a simple and concise method of bridging the gap between the world of business requirements, ‘the what’, and the world of technology supporting the business, ‘the how’. In nutshell, this goal is achieved by proposing a set of viewpoints (namely, Values, Policies, Events, Content — VPEC), from which a business domain could be looked at, so the tangled mess of the real world practices of any business could be unpicked and productively discussed. Suffix ‘T’ is about Trust, that would come once you find a common language that technology practitioners and the business people both understand. So far, so good. The idea of using viewpoints to describe multifaceted reality is tried and tested by now, being quite successful in application to both business and systems architecture, and it does look, on the onset, that it might give an insight on techniques used by accomplished practitioners in Capgemini, global consultancy both authors work for.
Unfortunately, the book fails to deliver on promise. Firstly, it’s quite thin and sketchy and does not give a lot of detail on the method itself. Somewhat surprisingly, there are plenty of words about the benefits of a particular perspective, but only a page or two of actual method guide. Absence of any practical examples aside from a number of extended quotes is not helping either. That aside, there is not much science sitting behind the proposed model. Yes, as a technologist, you need to go and talk to people ‘in the business’, and, yes, you need to go beyond the words they say and see what they really want, for this is rarely the same thing. However, there is little insight on what is the nature of such a discrepancy, or why discussing, say, Policies or Events is somehow going to make it an easier job. It also worth mentioning that very little is said on how one goes about structuring the ongoing communication, i.e. what kind of people need to be engaged, what work products are created, and which part of the organisation owns them going forward — all the interesting bits.
All in all, read this book and you might get an idea on what methods Capgemini consultants use, but beyond that the usefulness, to my mind, is questionable.