Many organizations strive to reduce the complexity of their IS architecture. One frequently used intervention is to minimize IS complexity by applying modularization. With modularization, systems are decomposed into modules to maximize IT flexibility. However, very few organizations achieve the anticipated benefits when introducing modularization. Therefore, our aim in this paper is to increase our understanding of the effects of modularization on IS complexity. Through a case study, we explore the relation between modularization and IS complexity. The results show three design choices through which modularization affects IS complexity: (1) the degree of granularity, (2) unification of terminology, and (3) the centralization of connections. The results also show that IS complexity is often shifted instead of reduced. Complexity seems to shift as a ‘waterbed effect’ across the IS architecture and across the different conceptualizations of complexity. With that understanding, IS complexity can be moved to a location in an organization better suited to deal with it.
Jochemsen, Erik; van den Hooff, Bart; Plomp, Marijn; Rezazade Mehrizi, Mohammad; and Mol, Koen, "Shifting Complexity: The Impact of Modularization on IS Complexity" (2022). ECIS 2022 Research Papers. 52.
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