By Barbara Hill
The crossroads of complexity and volatility lead to enterprise architecture.
If the processes, people, technology, and other environmental factors that make up your business are very simple—but changing rapidly—you can probably manage without documenting your architecture in detail.
If these things are very complex—but changing very little—you still probably can conduct your business without detailing and diagramming your architecture.
But, when things get so structurally complex and are shifting unpredictably (startup and entrepreneur friends, are you listening?), then you will really need to have more precise information about those things, how they relate to each other, what their interdependencies are.
This is where an Enterprise Architect can help.
An Enterprise Architect’s goal is to help nurture an environment where your business can be more efficient, effective, agile, and durable.
A good enterprise architect works similarly to a personal trainer. When you look for a personal trainer to help you get in shape, the trainer will ask you what your goals are. Are you trying to lose weight for an upcoming reunion? Do you need to lose weight for serious health reasons? Are you trying to accomplish an athletic goal, like running a marathon?
An Enterprise Architect looks for similar answers regarding the health of an organization or business. They want to know about the organization’s strategic goals, discuss the business needs, and assess the overall organizational fitness to achieve their business strategy.
Typically, this results in some diagrams and narratives relating to the current “As-Is” state of the business along with the desired “To-Be” future state. Is the business a start-up trying to handle tremendous growth? Is it a recently merged enterprise, trying to meld disparate cultures and organizational approaches? Has it had to recently downsize and is struggling with poor employee morale and customers skeptical of its ability to deliver?
An Enterprise Architect works with your organization to assess how “fit” your organization is today and helps you formulate an appropriate improvement plan to achieve your desired goals. This is often accomplished via a maturity model, which you can use to help determine how fast and in what areas you wish to proceed. This helps in planning out what is reasonable to accomplish, setting out both long-term and short-term goals, based on your organization’s particular strengths and weaknesses.
Just as for individuals, getting an organization more fit for its purposes involves stamina, strength, dexterity, suppleness, agility, speed, and a slew of emotional well-being components. An Enterprise Architect will help you devise a roadmap that sequences projects and initiatives to best optimize the time, risk, and cost needed to achieve your organization’s strategic goals.
An Enterprise Architect uses their considerable wealth of knowledge to tailor their recommendations of tools, methods, policies, and procedures to fit the specific business requirements and culture of your organization. There is no “one-size fits all” approach to improving the health of a business enterprise. To ensure the plan is working requires regular monitoring and check-ups—an Enterprise Architect makes recommendations for establishing and regularly reviewing business performance metrics.
The very best personal trainers are experts at motivating and cheering their clients to victory. Similarly, the very best Enterprise Architects also must be strong communicators who have tremendous empathy and support you in your efforts to adapt to the volatility of the increasingly complex world in which you conduct business.
About the Author: Barbara Hill is a Senior Enterprise Architect with KAI Partners. With over 20 years of experience working with both California state government and private sector companies, she has been instrumental in helping clients address the complexity and volatility of change, while ensuring alignment between strategic goals and operational realities. Barbara has held Enterprise Architecture certifications from Zachman International and Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture (PEAF and POET) and is currently working on certification from the Business Architecture Guild. Her Enterprise Architecture practitioner’s bag includes considerable knowledge and experience with organizational change management, quality improvement practices (such as LEAN and Six Sigma), knowledge management, data management, and data governance. Barbara’s wide-ranging work interests are a reflection of her nomadic early days, having resided in a number of different U.S. locations, as well as Mangla, West Pakistan and London, England.
3 thoughts on “What does an Enterprise Architect Do?”
Very nice, concise and informative article. Thank you.
Thumbs up! See my comment on LinkedIn. Doug
Ditto Doug’s comment.