Enterprise Architecture is a discipline that helps collect and analyze information about an organization and enables intelligent decision-making.
Besides the objective mentioned above, Enterprise Architecture is also a career path that many professionals consider. Hence, we thought it would be helpful to describe what it entails to be an Enterprise Architect in today's world.
Describing the role of EA is a tricky task. If you look at job postings mentioning this title, you will find several variations of the EA role's purpose. The truth is, there is no single, strict definition, and we don't want to pretend that there is, either.
A better way to describe the Enterprise Architect is by recalling what the EA discipline is in the first place. Indeed, it is accurate to say that the EA practitioner is responsible for executing Enterprise Architecture within an organization. This statement brings us to the expectations from an EA - knowing what the corresponding area of work is and its purpose. Since the Enterprise Architecture governs multiple aspects that describe the organization, it is logically expected that the specialist of EA will have some knowledge of the business, data, application, and technology aspects. However, it is not possible to be the master of all things, and thus, a more critical ability is to see these domains on a high level and connect them for composing the holistic picture.
For example, while the Enterprise Architect may not be an expert in a company's business operations, this individual should still steer the communication and partnership between business and technology SMEs. After all, Enterprise Architecture initiatives cannot succeed if either one of the two areas doesn't contribute to the outcomes.
A practical way to become proficient in the skills that an Enterprise Architect needs to possess is to learn fundamental aspects about the discipline and specific EA frameworks. We want to add a word of caution against interpreting any framework as a discipline itself since no single framework would work as a "one size fits all." Typically, frameworks are a choice of a taste and work style, and perhaps over time, you will pick one that stands close to your way of thinking. Before then, try to learn Enterprise Architecture as an abstract concept and look at frameworks as opinionated instructions for implementing the discipline.
While we have seen individuals trying to learn specifics about Enterprise Architecture, we have also met people who sit on the other pole of the matter. Specifically, some specialists become so fixated on specific frameworks or standards that they forget the true purpose behind EA.
Enterprise Architecture is a bridge between business strategy and technology deliverables, and working towards this simple principle will define a successful EA. In simple words, architecture is an implementation or enabler of business strategy.
For example, suppose a company has decided to digitize its business (which is very common in the era of increased mobile and internet consumption). In that case, Enterprise Architecture comes in handy by understanding where the business is headed and creating a plan to deliver technology solutions that support the change.
Earlier, we mentioned the importance of partnership with business SMEs for being successful as an Enterprise Architect. That cooperation is necessary to maintain the link between the business and technology deliverables. However, where the Enterprise Architecture frequently fails is losing the correlation between the high-level technology decisions and actual execution of the implementation. We need a special kind of partnership that is sometimes implicit and often missing - between an Enterprise Architect and Solution or Application Architects. Such an approach is necessary to avoid horizontal silos that are so prevalent with Enterprise Architecture. Some call this phenomenon an "Ivory Tower," while others perceive it as an "Astronaut" architect. Either way, the alignment is missing between the Enterprise and Solution Architects, and this shortage requires attention.
Therefore, we recommend looking into the partnership with Solution and Application Architects to succeed with Enterprise Architecture.
We are building Archipeg - cloud-based EA SaaS that we hope will streamline and enhance the Enterprise Architecture discipline. With our product, we hope to support the improved business partnership and directly impact execution and implementation by positively influencing Solution Architecture.