Functionalisation, aka “Factories”

Martin Walker

One man draws out the wire; another straights it; a third cuts it; a fourth points it; a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business; to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them.

– Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

The idea of taking a disparate set of activities and systems and re-organising them as “functionally aligned” factories has been a very powerful idea in capital markets IT, one that has waxed and waned since the 1990s. The idea of functional alignment means that all the systems doing the same activity should be combined into a single system, a “factory” as some people call it.

This chapter will explain how this idea has been implemented, its potential benefits and why it has seldom worked as well as the architects, and in many cases the senior management in support

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