Wednesday, March 17, 2010

EA can be so many things!

I have been working as an Enterprise Architect (EA) for the last two years however I am currently running the EA program within my organization. I have been involved in public sector EA for the last five years. I started off in the XML space, eventually moving into the Services Oriented Architecture and now primarily looking at all aspects of EA. EA can be challenging, fun and fulfilling but in the end it is like any other architecture disciplines, an art form. I believe to be a good Enterprise Architect or a Chief Enterprise Architect, you need:
  • To have a vision. Enterprise Architects have be visionary. If you don't have vision then it is time to call yourself a Enterprise Engineering. Architects are not problem solvers but they are more than that. They strategically anticipate problems, risks and provide mechanisms to mitigate them.
  • Be a hard worker. People think that Enterprise Architects live in a world on conceptual models and your canvas is the abstract world. WRONG! Enterprise Architects need to know strategy, technology, business processes, data and other domains and should be able to connect the dots. If they don't know a certain domain then they need to have a trusting relationship that domain SME. For example my knowledge in network engineering is quite light but I know folks who can design a network in their sleep.
  • To communicate. Communicate with your customers and see how EA will help them. Communicate with other architects and share thought processes. Understanding and disseminating ideas, processes and methodologies is a key.
  • Think on your feet. A good EA should be able to convince his point by using any information he has in his arsenal like data models, road maps, regulations, compliance, governance, applications, finance, etc., etc.
  • Understand your opportunities and boundaries. A good EA can easily identify opportunities that will enable him or her to promote their vision. He or she should be identify land mines and avoid them.
  • To have allies in all parts of the organization. Since EA doesn't have a good view in an organization, you need to build allies in different parts of the organization. This way you have a pulse on the organization and evolve the implementation of your EA vision.
The beauty of EA is that it can clearly identify gaps, issues and opportunities but it takes a savvy architect to easily identify it.