Collaboration Challenges for Today’s Enterprise Architects

Collaboration is harder because distributed workfaces make sitting around a whiteboard sharing and brainstorming harder

Our 2022 State of Enterprise Architecture Survey made one fact crystal clear: an enterprise architect’s typical day has changed in the pandemic’s wake. Gone are the days when architects spent most of their time at conference room whiteboards, drawing pictures or flowcharts to try to explain systems or processes to stakeholders.  

While meaningful and effective collaboration is still at the heart of an EA’s role, what has changed is the amount of direct face time, working in person with other architects and colleagues, rather than trying to collaborate by phone, email, or through an app. 

What’s Changed for Enterprise Architects?

Our survey revealed that a whopping 62% of EAs now work in distributed environments and are not necessarily in the same office as other architects or stakeholders. This trend has only grown since the pandemic. Whether they work in different offices or are partially or fully remote, EAs increasingly have to connect and collaborate virtually. 

Architects working in architecture governance, business architecture, requirements management, IT solutions, model-based systems engineering, and information architecture found connecting the different facets of an organization and understanding how things work has only become more challenging in the new normal.

Reasons for Collaboration Challenges

There are several reasons why collaboration in a distributed and increasingly remote workplace is challenging for architects, but the EAs in our survey offered two primary areas of concern.

Visibility 

Physical distance has led to even more separation between an architect and stakeholders, particularly management and executives. While EAs are still talking with people in adjacent job disciplines, communicating and sharing with colleagues outside is particularly challenging. The lack of face-to-face conversations has made it tough for those on project and operation teams and executive stakeholders to understand what architects are doing without the option of physically whiteboarding solutions and brainstorming ideas. The more removed and distributed the architects, the more information siloes become an issue, particularly with tasks like gathering and integrating requirements management. Our survey indicates that as architects are moved farther and farther away, collaboration becomes more complex from an architectural activities perspective. 

Tools 

Architects will only be effective when they are armed with the proper toolset. Respondents in our survey cited many issues with collaboration tools. More than one in five said they didn’t have access to the right tools to collaborate effectively. A significant percentage cited tool performance and capabilities as their greatest concern, particularly when sharing information and whiteboarding solutions and ideas. Because sharing assets, collaborating, brainstorming, and co-developing architecture models with others is at the heart of what they do, architects say they need access to effective tools to achieve the collaboration required in today’s workplace

Effective Collaboration is Key

Architects’ biggest challenge today is effective collaboration with stakeholders – particularly in a remote work environment. With most companies supporting remote and/or hybrid work environments, collaboration skills will be a key to productivity and effectiveness. Architects must contemplate how to best leverage tools, processes, and skills to rise to the unique challenges in the new and more remote normal.   

Looking for guidance on how to improve collaboration? Are you thinking of taking full advantage of cloud architectural platforms for greater collaboration?  Sparx Services North America can help. We are a full-service architecture consulting firm focused on helping you maximize the value of your architecture investments. Whether that be through modernizing your architecture tooling or integrating your architecture platform with other systems – we are here to help you succeed! Contact us to discuss your collaboration challenges.