Is an Enterprise Architect just a facilitator?

18 March 2009

A recent question asked whether an Enterprise Architect should just be a lone facilitator in an organisation.

All the organisations that I have supported have done enterprise architecture differently but in none of them is an Enterprise Architect just a facilitator. 

They need to gather and analyse knowledge about the organisation, communicate that knowledge, make key decsions about IT enabled business change and IT strategies, support the business strategy and it’s execution with a and business operating model, develop current state and future state EA models, develop a roadmap for the transition between them, deal with governance, compliance and design assurance for the programmes and projects that will be needed to execute the strategies and realise the future state etc. 

Broadly, I reckon 40% of the time is spent communicating about ROI and what the EA is and why it should be used. Another 30-40% of the time on the governance, compliance and design assurance activities, only leaving the remaining 20-30% for the strategy and future state enterprise architecture work.  To do all this an EA team is definitely needed. One person would just not provide sufficient bandwidth for all the work that needs to be done to be effective. 

I would say at minimum the EA team should have: 

  • one person to lead the EA team and to define the vision, EA framework, EA processes etc. 
  • one on IT strategy
  • one on Business architecture
  • one on Information/Data architecture (including data management stuff)
  • one (or more) on Application Architecture (with maybe some further specialists on Integration and security) 
  • one on the infrastructure architecture
  • one to do PMO activities and manage the EA tool and reporting needs

Clearly some people can perform multiple roles, so the minimum number of people can be slightly less than the number of roles but not much. EA teams that I have helped establish have often been around 10 – 12 people altogether. This is probably the most efficient size of a team to manage anyway. In addition to the EA team there will also be many other solution architects or segment architects that are assigned to the programmes and projects outside of the EA team, but which are usually regarded as part of a virtual EA team with a dotted line reporting on EA matters to the Chief Enterprise Architect.  

I believe that Enterprise Architects should very much get involved in supporting the C-level executives making strategic and policy decisions especially about strategic business change that are IT enabled. There are a number of EA teams that are now being called Strategy and Architecture teams, where the strategy is generally just the IT strategy. 

The EA team will work on a number of strategic Issues and hot topics especially where there is a huge change and cost impact. In some cases they will make recommendations about strategic decisions to an Architecture Review Board or equivalent who will approve them. After that the Enterprise Architect will ensure through governance, compliance and design assurnance processes that the strategy and architecture decisions are implemented in terms of strategic portfolio of changes (EA Roadmap), programme portfolios and project requirements. And so on… 

This is more than just facilitation.

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