Friday, November 18, 2011

Enterprise Architect : shifting from consulting to Full-time EA (and back)

For the past few years, I have been a consulting Enterprise Architect,  working with a wide cross-section of clients, industry verticals and technology domains. Some of my engagements have been short and specific to an EA domain. I have also had the opportunity of being embedded in client’s EA organizations for extended periods of time. Some of my offline with  client and consulting EA's sometimes shifts to career planning and management.  Many in full-time Enterprise Architect roles at large enterprises muse on moving to consulting; I have seen more than a few join my EA practice during recent times. Likewise, I have also seen fellow consultants take up full-time EA role at client enterprises.  

A few common themes for such shift include personal reasons constraints - need to cut back on travel consulting involves - or the urge to move on to other industry verticals which consulting gig’s can facilitate. And in many cases it also boils down to the bottomline ($$$).  Some random observations based on experiences of people I have seen switch roles
Full-Time Enterprise Architects
Enterprise Architect Consultants
The role of an Enterprise Architect is typically a mix of subject matter expert, internal consultant, mentor and coach.
Role of a consulting EA is that of a deep subject matter expert, focused on advising client’s decision making.
As key stakeholders bridging the business-IT divide, Enterprise Architects are vested in the success of strategic initiatives, held accountable for their decisions and advise given to business and IT.
Consulting architects are not expected to have a 'permanent' tenure with a client. While they may also be responsible to deliver in success of client’s initiatives, they are generally not held accountable
Vendor relationship and management skills are getting to be important, especially in large-scale sourcing contexts.
The focus is on client stakeholder management and ability to continually sell one’s individual and consulting firm’s services
As client’s technology teams get leaner with larger sourcing initiatives, Enterprise Architects are expected to add to project/ program governance and also governance around vendor management
EA consultants may sometimes get an opportunity to be a part of client's Architecture governance teams but the focus is primarily on solution delivery and reviews
An Enterprise Architect’s performance indicator, measure of success includes contributing to long-term growth and ensuring success of business’ initiatives
Consultant’s PI is more black-and-white and typically includes a mix of billable utilization, meeting sales targets, contributing to consulting firms’ downstream business
An EA can reach out to internal networks and resources not available to outsiders
The consulting EA may need to be facilitated on reaching out to internal - client - resources. however he will have access to his extended network from his firm
The above is by no means a comprehensive list though it may weigh in while one considers a switch from being a consulting EA to a full-time EA. Do ping with your inputs and I will add to it.

ps: Added note from a fellow EA (Kurt Barndt)  "I would add you serve who ever pays you.  If you work for a services organization sometimes you are put in the position to balance your company’s interests with that of your client(s).  Working in house has an easier alignment from a company perspective however organizational/peer alignments become more significant especially as there are less and less in-house employees in the ever growing services-based environment."

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