Enterprise architects are a crucial resource for organizations and among the most expensive. According to a 2022 survey by Glassdoor, EAs are ranked among the highest-paid roles within an IT organization. And they are especially in hot demand in light of recent hiring trends and availability. The bottom line is architects are hard to find, and highly-experienced EAs are a true rarity.
Because architects are both an expensive and scarce resource, enterprises need to maximize the value of these professionals to ensure that every hour they’re working is focused on the highest value activities they possibly can. This blog explores the core strengths and skills architects bring to an organization as well as the disconnects between what architects should focus on to maximize value instead of what many are doing today.
The Roles of the Enterprise Architect
Enterprise architects typically play two key roles in an organization.
The Architect as “Analyst.” In architecture analysis, architects help enterprises understand the organization by living within its connective tissue. In this role, it’s not about an organization’s individual processes, applications, or capabilities but how these things relate. Architecture analysis explains how things work based on all the interdependencies in an organization. As the chief analyst of the ecosystem, architects are exceptionally good at delving into data, understanding complex problems, and breaking them down so stakeholders gain a better understanding.
The Architect as “Designer.” With architecture design, architects are called upon to design changes to processes and systems to help achieve specific goals.
But of these two roles, which is the most valuable to an organization – architecture design or architecture analysis?
Maximizing Architecture’s Unique Skills
To answer this question, leaders should consider what core skills architects uniquely bring to the enterprise. They should ponder what activities bring the highest value and whether a particular activity truly utilizes the architect’s core skills or whether it could be done in another way or with another resource. What are the core competencies or differentiators for this specific job, profile, or resource, and does it match the architects’ strengths? When evaluating whether a particular activity is maximizing an architect’s value, it’s essential to understand the core skills an experienced architect uniquely brings to an organization.
- Understanding complex multifaceted environments. One of enterprise architects’ strengths is understanding strategy, process, technology, risk, finance, and governance– the core components of a business environment.
- Explaining complexity. Architects are excellent at breaking down complex and multidimensional processes and topics into simple terms and explanations for different audiences. They can also explain complexities to executives in business terms, mid-level managers in strategy terms, operations leaders in process terms, finance people in money terms, IT professionals in tech terms, and security people in security terms.
- Understanding the big picture. The third skill architects are particularly good at is identifying where constraints or inefficiencies exist within the entire enterprise ecosystem. They understand how processes are impacted by technology or how an organization’s risk profile may be impacted by organizational structure. With this deep and nuanced understanding, architects can help guide leadership to the opportunities that have a greater impact on driving change.
Architecture Design or Architecture Analysis – The Disconnect
However, when we look at the work that most architects are doing, they’re not utilizing the unique competencies of their practice. Rather than focus on architecture analysis, a role they can uniquely perform, today’s architect spends most of their workday designing and documenting business processes, technical architecture for solutions, or working on project-specific activities that underutilizes the skills that they bring to the table.
To maximize their value, architects should focus on architecture analysis, digging into an enterprise’s data and helping executives and leaders understand how an enterprise works and where changes need to happen. Because unlike design activities, where project managers, business analysts, and development professionals can design and develop flowcharts, graphics, and PowerPoints, architects are experts in delving into data, breaking down an organization’s complexities, and explaining them through architecture analysis.
Today, most architects focus on building and designing rather than living in data, looking at an organization’s big picture, and analyzing complexities to drive change. While architects have the ability to design for project-specific activities, should they be?
Especially now, as enterprises struggle to emerge in a post-pandemic world, looking to understand new ways of working and doing business in an age of disruption, architects have the skills, knowledge, and relationships to analyze these complexities and drive meaningful change and improve efficiencies in their organizations. To accomplish this and to maximize your organization’s architecture efforts, it is essential that enterprise architects focus on architecture analysis, the highest-valued activity, which truly utilizes the architect’s core skills and addresses the most pressing needs today.
Want to learn more about how to maximize the value of architecture? Reach out to have a conversation today.