8 min read

(For more resources on Troux, see here.)

Targeted charter

Organizations need a mission statement and charter. What should the mission and charter be for EA? The answer to this question depends on how the CIO views the function and where the function resides on the maturity model. The CIO could believe that EA should be focused on setting standards and identifying cost reduction opportunities. Conversely, the CIO could believe the function should focus on evaluation of emerging technologies and innovation.

These two extremes are polar opposites. Each would require a different staffing model and different success criteria. The leader of EA must understand how the CIO views the function, as well as what the culture of the business will accept. Are IT and the business familiar with top-down direction, or does the company normally follow a consensus style of management? Is there a market leadership mentality or is the company a fast follower regarding technical innovation? To run a successful EA operation, the head of Enterprise Architecture needs to understand these parameters and factor them into the overall direction of the department. The following diagram illustrates finding the correct position between the two extremes of being focused on standards or innovation:

Using standards to enforce polices on a culture that normally works through consensus will not work very well. Also, why focus resources on developing a business strategy or evaluating emerging technology if the company is totally focused on the next quarter’s financial results? Sometimes, with the appropriate support from the CIO and other upper management, EA can become the change agent to encourage long-term planning. If a company has been too focused on tactics, EA can be the only department in IT that has the time and resources available to evaluate emerging solutions. The leader of the architecture function must understand the overall context in which the department resides. This understanding will help to develop the best structure for the department and hire people with the correct skill set.

Let us look at the organization structure of the EA function. How large should the department be, where should the department report, and what does the organization structure look like? In most cases, there are also other areas within IT that perform what might be considered EA department responsibilities. How should the structure account for “domain architects” or “application architects” who do not report to the head of Enterprise Architecture? As usual, the answer to these questions is “it depends”.

The architecture department can be sized appropriately with an understanding of the overall role Enterprise Architecture plays within the broader scope of IT. If EA also runs the project management office (PMO) for IT, then the department is likely to be as large as fifty or more resources. In the case where the PMO resides outside of architecture, the architecture staffing level is normally between fifteen and thirty people. To be effective in a large enterprise, (five hundred or more applications development personnel) the EA department should be no smaller than about fifteen people. The following diagram provides a sample organization chart that assumes a balance is required between being focused on technical governance and IT strategy:

The sample organization chart shows the balance between resources applied to tactical work and strategic work. The left side of the chart shows the teams focused on governance. Responsibilities include managing the ARB and maintaining standards and the architecture website. An architecture website is critical to maintaining awareness of the standards and best practices developed by the EA department.

The sample organizational model assumes that a team of Solution Architects is centralized. These are experienced resources who help project teams with major initiatives that span the enterprise. These resources act like internal consultants and, therefore, must possess a broad spectrum of skills.

Depending on the overall philosophy of the CIO, the Domain Architects may also be centralized. These are people with a high degree of experience within specific major technical domains. The domains match to the overall architectural framework of the enterprise and include platforms, software (including middleware), network, data, and security. These resources could also be decentralized into various applications development or engineering groups within IT. If Domain Architects are decentralized, at least two resources are needed within EA to ensure that each area is coordinated with the others across technical disciplines.

If EA is responsible for evaluation of emerging technologies, then a team is needed to focus on execution of proof-of-architecture projects and productivity tool evaluations. A service can be created to manage various contracts and relationships with outside consulting agencies. These are typically companies focused on providing research, tracking IT advancements, and, in some cases, monitoring technology evolution within the company’s industry.

There are leaders (management) in each functional area within the architecture organization. As the resources under each area are limited, a good practice is to assume the leadership positions are also working positions. Depending on the overall culture of the company, the leadership positions could be Director- or Manager-level positions. In either case, these leaders must work with senior leaders across IT, the business, and outside vendors. For this reason, to be effective, they must be people with senior titles granted the authority to make important recommendations and decisions on a daily basis.

In most companies, there is considerable debate about whether standards are set by the respective domain areas or by the EA department. The leader of EA, working with the CIO or CTO, must be flexible and able to adapt to the culture. If there is a need to centralize, then the architecture team must take steps to ensure there is buy-in for standards and ensure that governance processes are followed. This is done by building partnerships with the business and IT areas that control the allocation of funds to important projects.

If the culture believes in decentralized standards management, then the head of architecture must ensure that there is one, and only one, official place where standards are documented and managed. The ARB, in this case, becomes the place where various opinions and viewpoints are worked out. However, it must be clear that the ARB is a function of Enterprise Architecture, and those that do not follow the collaborative review processes will not be able to move forward without obtaining a management consensus.

Staffing the function

Staffing the EA function is a challenge. To be effective, the group must have people who are respected for their technical knowledge and are able to communicate well using consensus and collaboration techniques. Finding people with the right combination of skills is difficult. Enterprise Architects may require higher salaries as compared to other staff within IT.

Winning the battle with the human resources department about salaries and reporting levels within the corporate hierarchy is possible through the use of industry benchmarks. Requesting that jobs be evaluated against similar roles in the same industry will help make the point about what type of people are needed within the architecture department. People working in the EA department are different and here’s why.

In baseball, professional scouts rate prospects according to a scale on five different dimensions. Players that score high on all five are called “five tool players.” These include hitting, hitting for power, running speed, throwing strength, and fielding. In evaluating resources for EA, there are also five major dimensions to consider. These include program management, software architecture, data architecture, network architecture, and platform architecture. As the following figure shows, an experience scale can be established for each dimension, yielding a complete picture of a candidate. People with the highest level of attainment across all five dimensions would be “five tool players”.

To be the most flexible in meeting the needs of the business and IT, the head of EA should strive for a good mix of resources covering the five dimensions. Resources who have achieved level 4 or level 5 across all of these would be the best candidates for the Solution Architect positions. These resources can do almost anything technical and are valuable across a wide array of enterprise-wide projects and initiatives.

Resources who have mastered a particular dimension, such as data architecture or network architecture, are the best candidates for the Domain Architect positions. Software architecture is a broad dimension that includes software design, industry best practices, and middleware. Included within this area would be resources skilled in application development using various programming languages and design styles like object-oriented programming and SOA.

As already seen, the Business Architect role spans all IT domains. The best candidates for Business Architecture need not be proficient in the five disciplines of IT architecture, but they will do a better job if they have a good awareness of what IT Architects do. Business Architects may be centralized and report into the EA function, or they may be decentralized across IT or even reside within business units. They are typically people with deep knowledge of business functions, business processes, and applications. Business Architects must be good communicators and have strong analytical abilities. They should be able to work without a great deal of supervision, be good at planning work, and can be trusted to deliver results per a schedule.

Following are some job descriptions for these resources. They are provided as samples because each company will have its own unique set.

Vice President/Director of Enterprise Architecture

The Vice President/Director of Enterprise Architecture would normally have more than 10 or 15 years of experience depending on the circumstances of the organization. He or she would have experience with, and probably has mastered, all five of the key architecture skill set dimensions. The best resource is one with superior communication skills who is able to effect change across large and diverse organizations. The resource will also have experience within the industry in which the company competes. Leadership qualities are the most important aspect of this role, but having a technical background is also important. This person must be able to translate complex ideas, technology, and programs into language upper management can relate to. This person is a key influencer on technical decisions that affect the business on a long-term basis.

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