Saturday, September 24, 2005
What Enterprise Architects Aren't
Business System Analyst / Business Analyst - Typically a business process type. Intimately knows the segments of the business being dealt with, and either came from a technical background or acquired enough to be dangerous. Usually deals at the business / high-technical requirements level and may be involved in use case development and system testing.
System Architect / Software Architect - Analog of a business analyst on the technology side. Specifies software designs, hardware or network configurations, database schemas, and functional software specifications (of varying types) used by IT development teams. Usually materially participates in the development - writing software, data modeling, prototyping, testing, etc. as the development proceeds.
Project Manager / Project Lead - Individuals reponsible that a specific set of deliverables or outcomes are produced and delivered, hopefully on-time and on-budget. May control the above-mentioned personnel as subject-matter experts (SMEs) or, to use the project management term, as 'resources' on the project.
None of these people are enterprise architects, primarily because their scope is too narrowly defined looking at the dictionary term for 'enterprise.' They are primarily focused on their own work and projects, even if as often hppens, their work creates or perpetuates IT and process silos within a business.
Taking a look at the job descriptions for enterprise architects on major internet job boards leads to other descriptions that don't appear to merit the title:
Tool Jockeys - When the job description is overly loaded with technology buzzwords or vendor toolsets, the employer isn't looking for an enterprise architect, they are looking for someone intimately familiar with specific IT-related tools and don't appear to be overly concerned about what is produced with the technology and tools. Quite a few don't even list interacting with the business, much less understanding it, as a requirement of the position.
System/Software Architects - See above description. If the job description centers around writing code, doing functional specs and designs, agile development, or development in general, they aren't looking for an enterprise architect because the scope is too narrow. A number of agile and extreme software development advocates and authors make this erroneous distinction as well.
Expected to manage IT projects as well as "do architecture" - I've worked as a project manager and teach the subject at a midwestern university. Project management, done correctly, is full-time, difficult and complex work in its own right. Adding EA duties to PM work, or vice-versa, is usually granting a license to fail at either or both. Unless someone with both jobs can clone themselves, there isn't enough time in the day to address the unique characteristics and duties of both positions properly and completely.
So, you ask, what is enterprise architecture and what is an enterprise architect? We've examined what they aren't, and my next posts will examine what they are, and can successfully become.