Enterprise Architects Job Descriptions. Are they always realistic or achievable?


Recent research among delegates has shown that they think the perception of the activities of the Enterprise Architect are all encompassing - leaving no activities for other roles to cover!
It is true that some job descriptions for Enterprise Architects (EAs) look over ambitious in terms of the expectation of scope and responsibilities. The article explores the remit of Enterprise Architects.  It examines whether enterprise architects cover all aspects of enterprise architecture and solutions architecture.
Enterprise Architects are the 'lense' that identifies any gaps or problems across the enterprise architecture.  Comparing and contrasting the role of enterprise architects and solutions architects, the latter are responsible for developing solutions for individual projects; the former, strategic, portfolio and also project oversight.
The Solution Architect’s focus is on developing the most effective, practical solution in line with customer requirements, and organisational policies and principles at project level, except where more senior solution architects have extended remits over programmes.  The interaction and discussion with the EA team will therefore be reflected in their discussions and interactions.
The Enterprise Architecture Team helps create the principles and policies, and manage governance processes in order to support the engineering development teams, which are developing the new solutions. Enterprise Architecture focus covers strategic, portfolio and also project oversight, ensuring that there are the relevant processes, content and skilled resource to support the enterprise architecture.  
In fact there is a strong supporting relationship between Enterprise Architects and Solution Architects.  EAs can help support Solution Architects by providing principles and policies enabling Solutions Architects to make informed decisions when developing projects required for business transformation.  This support allows the Solutions Architect to focus on projects at the tactical level.  When it is impractical for solutions architects to comply with principles and policies within their own project remits, the EAs can either allow dispensations or enforce the principles depending on the circumstances.  This ensures that the EA focus is on the strategic rather than the tactical/project level.  
EAs also monitor skills training, especially when new technologies and transformation demand new skills and experience. Solutions Architects ensure that policies and principles formulated by the EA team are applied to the developed solutions, so there is dialogue, co-operation and communication between the roles. Therefore each role has its own specific focus, and both are key in the overall business transformation.  
The skills matrices and Sofia Framework help to identify the level of understanding and application of skills and experience.  The Enterprise Architect has a broad knowledge base and must be able to manage teams and people.  Within the team they may be able to obtain more detailed informed information – for example the technology specialist or data specialist may be able to provide additional information and insight to support the enterprise architect.  The enterprise architect must have sufficient understanding and insight to be able to absorb the information and see how this best fits into the overall enterprise architecture.
 The following table highlights the focus at the Architecture and Design Level


Comparison of Architcetural and solution perspectives

In essence, business analysts, solution architects have key roles in project developments and enterprise architects oversee the developments.  Enterprise Architects have a broader perspective overlooking the wider enterprise architecture. As a result of this involvement and oversight of the projects, they are well positioned to manage and promote reusable building blocks that can be utilised elsewhere within the enterprise.  They are also in a position to analyse duplication of processes, applications and technologies that can be standardised, and promote efficiencies across the EA landscape.
In essence, they can improve how other roles in the organisation operate, by ensuring the correct training and tools are in place, and that enterprise architecture information is available and well communicated. Finally, enterprise architects support the generation of correct reports and transfer of information, creating transparency and underpinning the decision making process relating to enterprise architecture.  This is not to say they will develop and design every report – they may facilitate the process that enables the correct Request For Architecture Work to be raised, reducing the gulf between what is required by the business and what is developed by the engineers and IT professionals. This mitigates the problem of misaligned business aspirations with what is actually delivered by IT implementations


Benefits of Modelling

  • Ability to articulate strategic view of landscape Optimise data use
  • Reduce infrastructure duplication and optimise non-functional aspects
  • More effective decision making due to up front options analysis with simulation of key requirements
  • Ability to communicate conflicting goals and drivers and facilitate conflict resolution
  • Highlight misalignment of priorities
  • Show competing demands for business services allowing compromise service levels to be defined
  • Improve oversight and Architectural Governance

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