Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Musing on accidental Enterprise Architects and Enterprise Solutions Architect

Enterprise Architects (EA's) periodically like to muse on the evolution of their roles and how they need to be aligned more with the "Business." Some get on discussion forums to debate how they/their roles need to move up the value chain, which makes for an interesting blog post but practical challenges continue to keep many EA's grounded.

Last week I was visiting clients in Washington DC area and met with their EA's whose business card reads "Enterprise Solution Architect". It was in the context of their adoption of TOGAF and ideation on how they could leverage the toolkit and frameworks better. This was a group of technologists and business analysts who had grown into the EA roles in their organization, a mid-size enterprise.

During our discussion, some were voicing concerns on the strategic-vs-tactical challenge of their roles. I got a feeling that these were accidental Enterprise Architects. For some the goal was to be the Über techie, a.k.a lead technical architect, focus on technical problems with projects and programs than on other core EA challenges within the enterprise.

Of late, I see a lot more accidental EA’s wanting to move towards their Business or Solution Architect roots (circled in image above). And in many cases, organizations are also providing the nudge. Organizations that employ experienced technologists in "Enterprise Architect" roles want them to double up by wearing technical or business analyst hats in projects and programs. In TOGAF speak; the focus of Solution Architects is on B. C. and D. dimensions. (refer image).
I guess there is some rationale here: in a tough economy, employers and managers are looking for a better ROI on their employee’s skills. Remember, Enterprise Architects are highly paid "resources" and productivity of resources is a key performance indicator.

Maybe it is just me, but in an uncertain economic climate, I see a lot more Enterprise Architects hunkering down to leverage their core competencies – technical or business skills – than stepping up to prepare their firms for growth.


TOGAF: The Open Group Architecture Framework