So You Want to Be an Enterprise Architect?
by Sharon C. Evans
Thinking about a career change? This article gives you five things to consider and some self discovery before taking the road on the role of the Enterprise Architect (EA). It is best for one to plan their career, rather than let it "happen" to them. If you have considered the role of the EA, you have probably thought about your technical skills. Here are a few others for you to ponder:
First of all, are you qualified? What have you done to make you feel that you can take on this role? I found that most successful architects have done at least three major things in their career before making the jump. They've been involved in a major enterprise project, a huge problem response team, or an innovative solution. EA's are typically domain architects before becoming an EA - meaning they played roles as a solution architect, technical architect or infrastructure specialist, or a data architect. Strengths coming from the business side as a business architect or specialist in a strategic area in the enterprise, as well as roles in IT or Project Management may qualify you as well.
Your second check box should include your process and methods. How will you do the work? Do you have any experience in architectural process? Do you know any of the key methodologies involved in planning and considering solutions for the enterprise? An architect earns his or her stripes by using a process consistently when putting together plans for the organization. Decisions are methodically made, and prototypes are created either on paper or through models before they hit the budget sheets.
How about the third major criteria - your kit bag full of soft skills? Face it - every resume includes "I have good communication skills". Really? Have you ever created a plan for telling an entire organization how you will leverage their business strategy with technology? Have you figured out how to succinctly review and document solutions being considered for prime time? Can you clearly articulate and document your vision using your voice and the written word. Do you know anything about architecture documents at all? Have you ever lead a team or participated in one? At what level? You are in the big leagues at the enterprise level and play politics with many different groups. Are you up for it?
Let's hit the fourth consideration on my big five list. Are you used to taking a step back and considering everything from multiple perspectives? If you are to be responsible for big decisions that align information technology plans with businesses strategy, you have to think in a different way. Just when you figured out that technology X will solve all of your companies' problems, have you contemplated what it will do to the business strategy that was carved out last year? What about the relationships with your vendors and suppliers? How about all of the regulatory requirements your company faces each year - have you considered those? Are you used to measuring everything against the big picture while you are helping IT teams plot out some major details?
Finally - do you think and act strategically? You are the change master when you become the EA. What study have you made of change and its impact to people and organizations? How good are your planning skills? What have you ever done to learn about strategic planning? Is governance a buzz word, or do you really know how a governance program works and what the corporate executives want out of it? If you want to be an Enterprise Architect, you've better plan your career like an architect plans a solution. You should think big picture and then figure out what your strategy should be and plot out the details. Why don't you start by architecting your own career?
About Sharon C Evans
Sharon C. Evans is an Enterprise Architect Coach, Author, Mentor and Trainer. Her book "Zoom Factor for Enterprise Architects: How to Focus and Accelerate Your Career" focuses on excellence and perspective for the Enterprise Architect and was published in November 2010. The book site is at http://www.zoomfactorbook.com. She is the founder of Firefli Consulting Inc. and her coaching site and more great articles can be found at http://www.architectcoach.com.
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