The necessity of modularity in all business operations: whether technical or non-technical
Modularity can enhance operational efficiency within a business. The benefits of modularity are not limited to the domain of software design alone, but it tremendously enhances performance of non-engineering operations when effectively used.
Generally speaking, modularity is the degree to which a system’s components may be separated and recombined. In software design, the use of modularity is ineluctable owing to the complexity of software design projects. Modularity in software design has many distinct benefits. To list out a few, modularity results in:
- Elimination of code cross-dependencies across different parts of a system
- Ease of use and readability creating further reusability
- Cleaner code with self contained classes preventing system degeneration
- Testability, scalability, modification and maintenance advantage
Modularity in software programming is a topic that requires a dedicated paper for discussion. This paper does not deal with the subject of modularity specifically in software design but the objective of this paper is to try to broadly highlight the importance of modularity in all technical as well as non-technical operations within a business. That is, how non-technical stakeholders can improve operational efficiency through effective use of modularity in the same way as software programmers can.
An operation is generally carried out on the basis of an instruction or a set of instructions to accomplish a task. Upon the execution of the assigned instruction(s), the task gets completed. The challenge is that the dynamics of complex tasks and operations require a great degree of planning and execution. However, in non-technical contexts, operations are largely performed in an unstructured way, potentially resulting in untraceable delays, losses and failures.
These untraceable delays, losses and failures occur largely due to the fact that instructions are vague and desynchronized. Without clarity of instructions, tasks cannot be performed in a predefined, proven and prescribed manner. This means that each time an operation is performed – despite the fact that the very same operation may have been carried out a hundred times before by the same people – it would still not get completed substantially quickly or more accurately.
Modularity can be studied in various contexts, e.g., software design, biology, cognitive science, ecology, industrial design, robotics and many other sciences. However, since software programming is a highly constructive way to illustrate the benefits of modularity, and it is a domain where we have successfully exploited it, we will refer to it to illustrate how modularity — just like it does in software design — can optimize operational performance in non-technical contexts when effectively implemented.
Modularity in software programming enables the fragmentation of complex problems by breaking them down into smaller, manageable, traceable and achievable tasks. These tasks can then further be broken down into subtasks which can be accomplished in parallel, thus shortening the development lifecycle. Such distributed development makes complex and otherwise unachievable tasks feasible.
Now let us view things from a non-technical perspective. If non-technical operations are modularized whereby large, ambiguous instructions get disintegrated to form precisely defined tasks then the items and subitems forming part of the larger overall operation become measurable and actionable.
If each instruction is broken down – stripping the entire operation into small bits – acting upon these new items and subitems becomes simpler, scope for task allocation is created, and reusability, measurability and validation becomes possible.
Through modularity, as systems or operations are decomposed to create a number of components, it allows for new combinations to form a variety of configurations. In a non-technical context, modularity can replace unambiguous and loosely coupled instructions with more distinctly defined hierarchical structures. This can improve operational efficiency and enhance reusability.
Software should be designed in such a way that they enable modularization of anything that follows the basic principles of tasks and operations – whether it’s a technical or a non-technical process. If this is achieved, redundancy will make way for new innovation.