We used to say that the company is the people. Today though, the company is rather the technology and people, because without technology no company would be able to function or compete. To survive today, any enterprise must adapt increasingly faster to the technology and market changes. The digital transformation everybody talks about requires now a technological revolution in the enterprise because the enterprise technology needs a steep updating to the latest standards. The enterprise has to automate, implement visualization of computing, employ IOT & edge computing and intelligent technologies like AI, 3D printing and ultimately outsource all IT to the Cloud. But, the technologies must be integrated, harmonized and tailored to fulfill your specific strategic goals.
To succeed, you first have to understand what you have. Begin by documenting the enterprise. To do that, you need that rare Enterprise Architect to be able to discover, model and document the current and future states of the enterprise. This will minimize the risks posed by major changes to the complex organically grown enterprise. In the transformation process, it will save your enterprise a lot of pain, costs, delays and job losses. Unfortunately, Enterprise Architects (EAs) are too often delivering today to their own EA definitions, utilizing frameworks that deliver anything but the plain simple EA blueprint the enterprise transformation needs. Beware, most EA efforts today will bury you in documentation, explanations chat and talks. You need quality rather than quantity, that is, you need an integrated enterprise blueprint rather than a list of hundreds of capabilities and information items thrown at you.
But how does this Enterprise Architect that is able to model your Enterprise look like?
To clarify, the key job of the Enterprise Architect is to deliver the enterprise model, the blueprint. Because today, each Enterprise Architect comes with its own definition and preferred framework, to avoid conflicting EA developments and directions, the enterprise should employ only one Lead Enterprise Architect. The Enterprise Architect has to establish the EA framework, principles, methods and tools, coordinates the team, and plans the work. The role ultimately has to harmonize and coordinate the development of all business units architectures to make sure they fit coherently in the whole. If the enterprise is large enough though, for each business unit there should be an EA architect who reports, in architectural matters, to the Chief EA so that all outcomes are compatible.
The Solution Architects may or may not report to the Chief Architect depending on the IT organization. Likewise, the Information Architects and Process Analysts may not report to the EA Architect. But, they all have to comply to the EA framework, method, notations, principles and use the same set of tools. Because both Solution, Information Architects and Process Analysts have business and program priorities outside the scope of EA, they may be reporting directly into the various business units.
What should a recruiter or employer be looking at when recruiting for an Enterprise Architect role?
Before recruiting an Enterprise Architect you should be clear that the role you want to employ is that of an Enterprise Architect. Because you may find out that you need an IT all-rounder instead. Mind you, the Enterprise Architect has to cover Business, Organization and other Technologies, which is more than an IT architect. Hence, you should clarify the nature of the issues the role has to solve. If the problem requires too deep an expertise in a field, you are obviously after a specialist in that field. If the problem demands knowledge in more fields, you should be looking for a generalist, usually a more mature person with experience in a few business and technology roles.
In any case, Business Architects alone cannot lead your effort because, for one, they cover only the business logic of an enterprise leaving out the technology that implements it. And anyway, the fine business logic of the enterprise is dictated today by the advanced, eventually outsourced, applications the enterprise employs. Besides, the Business Architecture methods today ignore the architecture term in the definition. That is, they propose no diagrams, no meta-models, but process descriptions and huge lists of capabilities and information items.
General business know how, while necessary, is not sufficient for the Enterprise Architect role. The EA role is for a generalist who is able to model and architect the enterprise as well. And Indeed, an EA architect should master the EA domain since EA, as any discipline, is an occupation with a body of knowledge which consists of the EA methods, frameworks, processes, tools etc.. Hence, the EA role should have a good general knowledge of business, the latest technologies and enterprise organization domains, in addition to the Enterprise Architecture body of knowledge.
Most importantly, you don’t want your EA to use any of the touted, but infertile, EA/BA frameworks today because they deliver mostly to their own specifications, rather than the EA the enterprise expects. The EA should have their own Enterprise Architecture method compiled from all relevant bodies of knowledge. Just a few architects are able to create their own framework capable to model the overall enterprise and link the various domain blueprints in the big enterprise picture.
In addition to the “must know”, the architect “must be” able to see both the whole (the forest) and the parts (the trees). (S)he shall be talented at both analysis and synthesis. Yet, not everybody enjoys or can do this, that is, not everybody can deal in abstraction, patterns , structuring and design.
Given the role of EA in the change and transformation, an EA architect has to be also skilled in strategy, road-mapping, governance and communication. Since EA is for many reasons hard to sell today, the EA architect should have communications and, in general, soft skills of the “turn the other cheek” kind.
In short, the EA architect should be an enterprise generalist with architecture and strategy knowledge, their own EA method, soft skills and a thick skin ready to accept the low pay at the many demands imposed as we can often see in the jobs advertised today.
A candidate’s publications, blogs… clear the way for an interview since you can evaluate beforehand the opinions held and the communication skills of the candidate. Write your role description taking into account the above.