Guiding Principals and Objectives


The purpose of this document is to provide guidence in what to prioritize and why when making architectural decisions and/or planning development projects. When designing a new system architecture, developers should address (have a plan for) each of the points in the checklist below before development commences.

Overall Objectives - What Matters?

The overall goal in our development projects is to bring value to the organization, effectively and efficiently in the form of products that are usable, reliable, secure and sustainable.


By value, we mean functionality that actually helps the organization meet its objectives and actually gets used by users.
To determine if we actually are delivering value, we need to have a definition of the organizations objectives (within the scope of the project/product) and we need to be able to measure success/failure.


By effectively we mean building the right things. This is synonymous with successfully delivering value.

How effectively we deliver value can be determined by defining and measuring OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)


By efficiently we mean delivering quickly and cheaply - "most bang for your buck". Here it's important to consider the long term cost of maintenance, technical debt, security breaches etc. before going for a quick win.

In development, they DORA metricsopen in new window are a good way to measure efficiency. Good DevOps practicesopen in new window are what help improve these metrics.


By usable we mean that the user experience is intuitive and pleasant. This means that the target audience understand how to use the product with minimal support and enjoy using it. They are able to find the tools and information they need. Again, this can and should be measured.

Measuring usability can be done in the form of user surveys, monitoring system use (% of target audience that uses features), and monitoring support cases.


By reliable we mean that the system works as expected, all the time - even under high load.

Reliability can be measured using APM (Application Process Monitoring), logging and tracing tools such as Application Insights


By secure we mean that the integrity of both personal data and organizational assets is ensured. It also implies that data is stored in a legally compliant manner. Security involves not only protecting systems from attack, but also reducing the risk involved if (and when) an attack should occur. It also involves having control of who has access to what, also within the organization (i.e. governance).

Security is never absolute, but can be monitored using audit logs and improved by following best practices on development and governance.


By sustainable we mean ensuring that what we develop today, will continue to work reliably, securely and cost effectively in the future - without being dependent on a single person. In short, the solution needs to be maintainable and viable.



  • [ ] OKRs defined and measured
  • [ ] Prototyping before development


Ensuring a great user experience

  • [ ] Analytics configured (including identifying and monitoring key metrics)
  • [ ] Strategically aligned with other products in BCC ecosystem
  • [ ] Compliant with WCAG standards (front-end)
  • [ ] Follows BCC's Design System
  • [ ] Intuitive and/or inline-documented UI


long term, rather than quick wins

  • [ ] Automated build and deployment pipelines
  • [ ] Automated tests
  • [ ] Modular, loosely coupled architecture
  • [ ] Open API (including SDKs) for any service that other services may need to communicate with
  • [ ] Over-engineering avoided
  • [ ] Tracking DORA metrics


Reducing the bus factor

  • [ ] No use of personal accounts purchasing / running services
  • [ ] All service account passwords / tokens available to future developers (e.g LastPass)
  • [ ] Minimal & documented setup for local development
  • [ ] Well-known, well documented technologies used
  • [ ] Test and/or staging environment
  • [ ] System architecture documented (along the way)


Making sure it works

  • [ ] Scalable architecture
  • [ ] Realistic load tests
  • [ ] Mainstream services and components (commercial backing, large community, no beta)
  • [ ] APM monitoring
  • [ ] Alerting


Ensuring only those who should have access, have access

  • [ ] Tested backup in place
  • [ ] Governance of developer access - 2FA, centralized control (e.g. Azure AD)
  • [ ] Data encrypted at rest
  • [ ] Data encrypted in transit (TLS/SSL)
  • [ ] Best security practices for relevant frameworks / components consulted and implemented
  • [ ] Development doesn't require access to production data
  • [ ] Audit logging
  • [ ] Vulnerability testing

Common "Gotchas"

  1. Using personal accounts to set up services
  2. Implementing security and compliance as an afterthought
  3. Using cloud services from new providers, without considering long-term governance (how will onboarding/offboarding be managed?)
  4. Using new, unproven or propriatory technologies that aren't backed by a large organization (often lack support, community, security in the long run)
  5. Overengineering
  6. Overlooking automated testing and load testing
  7. Being dependent on online database for development
  8. Development environment undocumented and difficult to set up (creates dependence on individual developers)
  9. Lack of alignment with other projects