How to Select an Enterprise
Architect for your Company
A Management Guide
What is Enterprise Architecture
In its simplest terms, enterprise architecture is the process of
aligning a business's strategic vision with its information
technology. It connects different business units for synergistic
communication and collaboration, creating a more seamless
customer (or end-user) experience. The enterprise architect, of
course, is instrumental in this process.
Rising Importance of the EA Role
Creating the "master plan"
Make recommendations that affect systems design,
resource allocation, processes and organizational structures
The EA is the master architect of the people, process and
What Does an EA Do?
Establish Goals & Expectations
Fix broken processes?
What is the EA's authority?
What are the deliverables?
What Does an EA do?
The answer depends on who you talk to...
At some companies, the position emphasizes technology,
as in the planning of company-wide systems.
Core Objective: ensure that all new software and hardware
meet standards and work together
Better: by having him or her focus on the technical viability
of product solutions while determining their economic value
to the business
Result: improved IT ability to make better business
decisions while considering benefits, risk and the effects of
new technology implementation
With vendors pulling and tugging on IT organizations, EAs
have to be a shield for that" "A voice of reason."
The Four C's
Enterprise architecture focuses on four crucial C's: connection,
collaboration, communication and customers
Imagine needing to manually log onto five different systems
to create and track an order, or putting in 20 hours
researching a project because you didn't know the
information already existed in another department.
These situations result from fragmentation and siloed
thinking; the goal of enterprise architecture, on the other
hand, is to create unity.
IT that enables business strategy today and tomorrow
"The 'tomorrow' part is especially important"
Map, define and standardize technology, data and business
processes to make that possible
Understand the business strategy
Must have both a macro and micro view
Guide individual projects
translate into an architectural approach - macro view
focusing on successful delivery within the macro view
Transform tech-speak into the language of business
solutions, and determine the technology needed to enable
Enterprise architect's role is that of the city planner, since he
also provides the road maps, zoning, common
requirements, regulations and strategy-albeit for a company,
rather than a city.
This role is increasingly important as enterprise architecture
itself becomes more important.
Equal parts technology expertise and business savvy,
today's enterprise architects are connecting silos and
enabling the enterprise vision
myriad of qualities. An enterprise architect needs solid
technology knowledge, you must be really great at
business, both generally and specific to your industry.
Drawing the Map - more skills
Figuring out what systems to map and connect, how best to
accomplish this and how to get relevant parties on board
does not come easy
That is why the enterprise architect has become a key
player in bringing to life the enterprise vision.
You have to be able to describe an IT project as a business
solution, not in terms of the cool technology involved.
Another crucial skill is the ability to see from various
viewpoints, and to understand the implications for the
customer, for the business and for all its units.
The architect must enable future visionary strategy, while
being pragmatic enough to execute the tasks of the day.
These are not easy feats to accomplish, which is why great
enterprise architects are in demand.
What does it mean?
The field of enterprise architecture has moved away from
reactive one-off projects to becoming an increasingly structured
field. With the government's formalization of enterprise
architecture after the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 and its
increasing prevalence in the private sector, participants are
discussing what components enterprise architecture comprises
and how to develop best practices. "Only in the last couple
years are people converging about what [EA] means," says
Gene Leganza, vice president at Forrester Research.
The New New Role - EA's Roots
Enterprise architecture's roots are in the desire to serve what is
best for the enterprise versus the individual department or
Enterprise architecture gained traction from the bottom up.
The first big projects were typically CRM or ERP ventures.
Unable to share information via e-mail, because of
incompatible e-mail systems in the same company
Each department thought it needed its own brand of PC,
even its own network or security system.
"People lifted their heads and thought, maybe it's more
important to be able to work together rather than me having
SOA vs. EA
Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is often spoken in the
same breath as enterprise architecture, as if SOA is a crucial
component of enterprise architecture. This is not the case:
SOA is one possible tool at an enterprise architect's
disposal, one that may or may not make sense, depending
on the situation.
Plenty of organizations are interested in enterprise
architecture but not SOA
SOA is something towards which most companies will
Searching Out Opportunities for Reuse
Enterprise architecture requires looking for whatever is
reusable, such as opportunities for standardized technical
platforms and access to shared data.
It is the overarching architecture that guides business, data,
information, technical and network architectures.
"As we look at current trends, we see companies taking a
step back and saying, We want everyone to have access to
product or customer files and have the same definitions,"
says Jeanne Ross, principal research scientist at the MIT
Center for Information Systems Research.
A Wholistic Vision
Ability to engender a more holistic vision in others is
Applies to projects that have limited business value, save
for the one department or unit that wants it.
This aspect of human nature is a main challenge for
"The business unit wants XYZ, but ABC is better for the
ABC may even be more expensive or may take longer,
but because it's for the greater good, it's a better
investment to make.
What's best for the enterprise versus the individual-that is
always the issue
Be Proactive - UPS Story
When the company was building its package-tracking
application, senior IT executives looked beyond the
immediate need and decided that UPS should have only
one package database ever
UPS decided that IT should run its operations in a highly
standardized, reliable, cost-effective manner always
Instead of designing and delivering a single package-
tracking application, UPS delivered access to a single
package database and a low-cost operating environment
that the company continues to reuse to support new
What Makes a Successful Architect
To be successful, an enterprise architect must not only
connect with senior business managers but with the rank-
and-file IT staff as well.
Being perceived as imperious can sabotage enterprise
architects, according to Ryan Plant, himself an enterprise
architect at Interbank FX, which makes technology for
trading foreign currency online.
In smaller or midsize companies, the enterprise architect is
typically one of the highest-paid IT professionals, which can
cause some friction among employees. And usually the EA
works closely with the CIO—an influential place to be.
More EA Qualities
An enterprise architect has to guard against getting too far
removed to the management echelons and losing touch—
and influence—with the technologists who design and code
systems, Plant says. In other words, as much as an
architect must build relationships with those outside IT, he
also must maintain good relations with those inside IT who
can make business plans into technology realities.
To keep those connections, he advises, architects might
consider hosting brown-bag lunches and inviting application
coders, designers and integrators to talk about a topic of
their choosing. The architect can present on it and lead a
EA Qualities continued
"You're showing people that you're thinking about things
within the context of what they're working on and you're
thinking in terms of how they work every day," he says. "It's
an education session and it's a marketing tactic."
People go back to work thinking they've learned something
and can approach the architect in the future, he adds.
Tick-off programmers by handing down standards via e-mail
and a rap of an invisible gavel, and standards will be
circumvented, Plant says. "Without the ability to execute,
architects are going to constantly struggle with justifying
Importance of Communication
"The essence of the job is about improving communication
between the people with the problems and those who would
solve them," says Leon Kappelman, cochair of the Society
for Information Management's enterprise architect working
Believers such as Scottrade CIO Ian Patterson use the
enterprise architect (EA) position in part to bring the IT
group close to the internal customer. At the $1 billion
brokerage, CEO Rodger Riney recently suggested to
Patterson to send some EAs to User Summits with
customers—people who trade stock online—to learn directly
what services they want, Patterson says. "They get
firsthand knowledge of what customers are saying" to
translate into IT projects, he explains.
The siloed view on projects may come in the form of "I want to
use this package" or "I want to build this application"
Take a step back, Try to understand what problem the
proposed project will solve.
Is there already a solution that covers the proposed area
Does the proposed project fit into the wider picture?
Structurally, business units are silos-and therefore often
have a limited view-but the enterprise architect ensures that
the pieces of the wider-picture puzzle fit together
Some projects use data that nobody else in the company will
be interested in, while other projects use data that are useful
and relevant to everyone in the company.
It is the enterprise architect's job to figure out how to make the
latter type available to the rest of the company, and one part of
that task is creating compliance standards
who owns this data?
Who should receive permission to access this data?
What is a customer?
For the marketing department, after-sale department,
finance department, the definition of customer is totally
different, even though they refer to the same person
Before a new project can be started, each technology area
must review a proposed project to ensure it fits into the
Enterprise architects, for all their vision and forward
thinking, need two feet solidly planted in today's work, the
ability to execute that work-just enough at the right time-and
the insight to know when goals are too lofty or unworkable
In other words, you need synergy
An appropriate word to apply to enterprise architecture
Enterprise architecture is not about IT serving the business
needs. It is about IT and the business working together to
turn a company's vision of greatness into reality. And the
enterprise architect can be instrumental in making that
Ensuring Backward Compatibility?
Build the database so that it can gradually evolve and is
built in line with actual business needs
Define metadata from both an internal and external
Make the definitions dynamic enough so that the
architecture can evolve along with business needs
Build systems in such a way that everyone helps implement
that common view
Introduce the EA to key players in the organization ASAP
Provide assistance in avoiding political minefields
Time to play "bad cop"
First, explain why the company created this position
Provide examples of past problems that you believe
could have been avoided with a good enterprise
If you can cite examples that are not confidential,
this list is also a great tool for interviewing
Define business purpose
what does the company do and how does it
Define the key business initiatives
Relate initiatives to expectations for the EA
You cannot know what you don't know, which is why you
are hiring an EA in the first place
A key deliverable should be to create a high-level design
of all the current systems and the integration points
currently in place.
It should include a set of recommendations by the EA
that incorporates the business goals.
For example, if cutting expenses is a high-priority
goal, then the recommendations may be related to
modification of hardware infrastructure as well as
changes in the current to IT operations size and
Your EA is simply a reflection of the goals of the
Potential problem: building a common database of dealers or
customers (or rather the impression of having a common
How do you connect a plethora of companies' dealer and
The most important question isn't the obvious one, How
do you create a common database? what really counts
is how you get there. One option, the self-contained,
static approach, is creating an intensive research project
to find the ideal database, build that, then migrate all
systems to it. That's not ideal.
A growing number of certification programs are being offered
Greater need to standardization the skills
Sign of maturing industry
Open Group Architecture Framework certification
IT Architecture Certification (ITAC)
Groups & Associations
Association of Open Group Enterprise Architects
Further the profession and to enforce standards of
Benefits of Certification
A step in the right direction
Two main benefits:
Creates standard competencies, making architecture
less of an art and more of a well-defined process.
Sets a minimal level of quality
When hiring architects, organizations face the issue of
making sure the candidate is right for the organization.
Once the architect is hired, they need to make sure the
person is familiar with the architecture of the organization.
Many good developers and senior developers call
themselves architects, but being a developer and being an
enterprise architect are not the same thing.
Don't try to find all qualities in a single person, since it's
better to create teams of complementary skills.
Easier to teach the right IT person business skills than it is
to teach technology to a businessperson
While enterprise architects may come from either side of the
business, they tend to come from the technology side, such
as a leader in application development.
The enterprise architect role itself is a gateway to multiple
positions, including CIO, CTO or a role that is more strictly
How Do You Know You Got It Right
When technology infrastructure lines up with business projects
like musicians in a marching band, you know you have a good
enterprise architect on staff.
But will you keep him when it's time to start handing out pink
You will if you can make the case for this hard-to-define but
critical IT position.
An enterprise architect, or team of them, creates a model—
usually with graphical software, but paper will do—of how
your company works including: business processes and the
related technology, a common vocabulary for IT and non-IT
people to use for communication
The goal is a little thing called alignment.
Working in Concert
Achieving that impressive lockstep between business and IT
takes time and practice; The EA is key to aligning business and
IT, which in these recessionary times is more important than
The job of an enterprise architect is hard to master and
sometimes hard to nail down.
Now, amid an economic downturn, a position like that—without
concrete and measurable financial value or, typically, any direct
reports—can be difficult to justify when the board of directors
demands companywide layoffs. Yet don't let those obstacles
induce you to cut the enterprise architecture job automatically
when you must reduce staff, experts warn. You could dig your
company a bigger hole.
Not only that, but an enterprise architect must be a voice that
many kinds of people can understand, says Tim Ferrarell,
CIO and senior vice president of enterprise systems at W.W.
Grainger, a $6.4 billion distributor of heavy equipment.
The ideal EA "can think at a strategic level and all the way
down to the operating level and understand how to move up
and down that chain of abstraction," "And know how to deal
with conflicts and trade-offs." says Ferrarell
Gain the confidence of the senior leadership team
Execs must believe that the enterprise architect
comprehends how the company works, where it wants
to go and how technology helps or hinders
Then effective working relationships can bloom.
In 2006, Grainger went live with a companywide SAP
project—20 SAP modules and 30 additional applications
that would touch 425 locations.
To help guard against what could go wrong in a big-bang
cutover, Ferrarell took his team of about 20 enterprise
architects off their regular jobs and assigned them to design
and integration roles on the SAP project.
The SAP implementation was such an all-encompassing
program that it made sense to re-purpose the enterprise
architects into key roles in the project. Their broad business
and technical knowledge made them very valuable team
members, says Ferrarell.
Grainger's senior business-side managers knew these
architects and their business savvy firsthand, he explains.
The trust was there, which helped get IT the intense
cooperation needed during and after the complicated
Their architects played a significant role, not only in shaping
the need for completion of the ERP project, but in ensuring
its design would enable their business requirements.
The SAP project succeeded, Ferrarell says, in part due to
the institutional knowledge and business-IT translation skills
the EAs brought to it.
Now that the SAP implementation is stable and perking
along, Ferrarell is putting the architecture group back
One of the first tasks for the team is to help business groups
identify what new services they want to offer customers and
scope out what the IT requirements would be, he says.
The job of their architects is to align business strategy,
operational model design and systems design to help
support Grainger's multi-channel strategy, he adds.
Ferrarell hires enterprise architects from outside Grainger,
but the best usually come from within because they have
institutional knowledge, he says. Despite the bad economy,
he's filling these jobs. "This is an absolutely pivotal
Other companies, though, have to be convinced of the
enterprise architect's criticality. Sony Pictures
Entertainment launched an enterprise architect role
modestly in 2002, focused at first on technology issues
only, says David Buckholtz, vice president of planning,
enterprise architecture and quality at the media
Sony Pictures Entertainment didn't even have a
corporate-wide IT department until the late 1990s,
Buckholtz says after growing through acquisition in the
1980s and 1990s, such as the acquisition of Columbia
TriStar movie studio (The Karate Kid and Ghost
Busters) and the acquisition of Merv Griffin Enterprises
(Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy).
"We're in a creative industry and people made a lot of
decisions on their own," he says. Hence, no central IT until
relatively recently and no strong belief in the importance of
central IT, he says.
Buckholtz was hired from General Electric to start an
enterprise architecture team because Sony Pictures wanted
more efficiency and savings from IT, he says.
At first, he concentrated on classifying existing and future
Categories include technologies in development where
Sony is doing proofs of concept; technologies in pilot;
current and supported; supported but older versions; those
headed to retirement; and those that are obsolete and no
longer supported except "under extreme duress," Buckholtz
He began this way to demonstrate that IT could be
businesslike: investing well, conscious of risk, planning for
the future. "This is how you plan enterprise architecture
when you don't have business support yet. We had to build
up to that."
Once the architecture group has the enterprise IT house
under control, it can look for ways to work with different
business technology groups to build credibility beyond bits
and bytes, he says.
One technique Buckholtz used was to install architects in
different business groups to work on projects on business
turf but using IT's budget. A free trial, in a sense.
By 2005, Buckholtz's group had started a high-profile
project with the digital media team to map out how Sony
Pictures would digitize content for downloading to mobile
phones and other devices. the digital media group continues
to use that road map today. "It was not a group off
somewhere, passing down standards."
As the economy tightens, Sony Pictures must make its
distribution chain as efficient as possible.
EAs continuously reinforce to business-side counterparts
the expected returns on IT projects as the temptation to cut
spending grows. "We make sure we close the loop and
quantify hard-dollar costs and benefits for the CFO,"
YRC Worldwide has formal enterprise architects on staff.
The higher up anyone climbs in CIO Michael Rapken's IT
group, the greater percentage of time is expected to be
spent on what he calls "account management" with
business colleagues, which are largely EA skills. They
include assessing and planning potential projects together
with business departments, making sure technology
standards are met and business conditions satisfied.
His team is rated each year on how well they build
relationships with business counterparts, among other
things, through an annual internal customer satisfaction
survey IT hands out to the rest of the $9.6 billion
transportation company. But evaluation also comes through
personal feedback. "You can tell who's being a success by
whether I hear compliments about them," he says.
EAs Make Good CIO's
Score one if in the enterprise architect you recognize the
makings of a good CIO
Small or Medium-Sized Company: CIO often does much of
what an enterprise architect usually does at a large firm.
Large Company, the enterprise architect becomes its own
career path, and one that can be just as strategic as a CIO's
CIO: The Ultimate Architect - One often-discussed vision of
the future of the CIO profession has the technology
caretaker part of the job being outsourced entirely, with the
strategy parts remaining.
The Rising Importance of the Enterprise Architect
The Four Stages of Enterprise Architecture
Enterprise Architect = Scenario Planner
How Enterprise Architecture is Changing Everything
Including the CIO Role
Society of Information Managers
Work in Progress
To be released in chapters, edited, assimilated as new sources
are available. a guide for organizations trying to understand the
shifting demands imposed by globalized market forces.
Global Enterprise Architect
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