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what is an enterprise architect

An enterprise architect’s role in aligning your organization

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Posted by: Lucid Content Team

If you spend any time on social media, you’ve probably seen pictures of home renovation “fails”—stairs that lead nowhere, faucets that miss the sink, doors that won’t open, room additions that don’t match the rest of the house, and so on.

Many do-it-yourself projects fail because there is not a well-defined plan. 

The same is true with your company’s infrastructure. As your business grows, you will need to renovate your infrastructure to keep up with demand and to ensure that everything is aligned with your company’s business goals. You need to develop a system that standardizes the hardware, operating systems, applications, networking solutions, and other IT resources that your company will use to reach current and future business goals.

You can try to do this work on your own, or you can bring in enterprise architects who specialize in building and maintaining systems that help different departments in your organization to understand and align with your business model. Learn more about this emerging role.

What is an enterprise architect?

An enterprise architect is someone who designs and maintains a system that keeps IT resources and services aligned with your business model and goals. They make sure that everybody has access to the hardware and software tools that they need to complete projects and deliver value to customers.

An enterprise architect works with management, subject matter experts, and other stakeholders to analyze current infrastructure and develop a plan for providing an architecture that supports a reliable IT environment while satisfying your business requirements.

What does an enterprise architect do?

Enterprise architects are IT professionals. They are responsible for monitoring and maintaining the health of your organization’s infrastructure. It is their job to understand the company’s strategic goals and business needs. With this understanding, they can work with business leaders to analyze and evaluate the system’s current state and assess what can be done to meet future needs and goals.

To get a better idea of what the company wants and needs, the enterprise architect will ask questions such as:

  • Is the business trying to keep up with rapid growth?
  • Is the company trying to meld different cultures, processes, and procedures after a merger or acquisition?
  • Are there spikes in customer demand that the company is struggling to handle?
  • Will the company need to upgrade current resources, or can it leverage legacy equipment?

The answers to these questions help an enterprise architect to draw plans, proposals, roadmaps, best practices, and so on. Once they understand the company’s current status and where the company wants to go, an enterprise architect needs to communicate, plan, and manage.

Communicating

Enterprise architects need to be good communicators, both writing and verbal. They will communicate with employees to ensure that everybody understands where the business wants to go and what the plan is for getting there. The enterprise architect may also need to communicate with outside stakeholders and business partners.

Planning

The enterprise architect works with management and stakeholders to define business goals. But it is the architect’s responsibility to come up with a plan for how to efficiently use and manage IT resources across the enterprise. The plan needs to align with business goals and must address current issues and ways to improve processes.

Managing

After implementing the plan, the enterprise architect’s job is not done. They are responsible for monitoring daily operations to ensure that everyone follows the plan. The architect needs to react quickly to any bottlenecks or roadblocks that may come up.

In addition, an enterprise architect’s responsibilities might include:

  • Analyzing, understanding, and describing a company’s current architecture
  • Working with stakeholders to understand business objectives benefits, costs, opportunities, and risks.
  • Preparing and presenting design proposals
  • Aligning IT strategy with the organization’s current and future goals.
  • Identifying areas that need improvement and propose solutions to make the relevant changes
  • Developing a plan that estimates the costs and time needed to move the organization from its current state to its target state
  • Monitoring progress and making corrections if the implementation plan gets off course
  • Working with management to develop and document policies, standards, guidelines, and procedures that streamline IT operations with business needs
  • Monitoring and managing risks to IT assets with proper security policies and standards
  • Train employees on processes and procedures.

Common pain points for an enterprise architect

A career as an enterprise architect can be rewarding, but like most jobs, there are moments where it can be stressful and overwhelming. An enterprise architect might face the following challenges:

  • Budget constraints: What the company wants and what you have recommended may not jive with the budget that has been allotted to the project. You will have to decide what you can do with the budget you’re given and what can wait until later. 

  • Managing multiple expectations from different stakeholders: An enterprise architect could end up being pulled in several different directions. It is hard for them to get their job done if the stakeholders don’t agree on the company’s objectives. Your enterprise architect needs to be able to bring everybody together to collaborate and agree on a direction for the company.

  • Keeping current with rapidly changing technology: Technology changes often. The changes are meant to add value and make our lives easier, but it can be very challenging for enterprise architects to keep up. It might take a team effort to read industry publications, monitor what the competition is doing, interact with customers to find out what technologies they are using, and take advantage of training opportunities to learn about new technologies that can help you work faster and control costs.

Job qualifications for an enterprise architect

According to Gartner, 40% of organizations will use enterprise architects by 2021. This is currently one of the fastest-growing tech jobs. If you want to work in this field, you will need these qualifications:

  • A bachelor’s degree in an IT-related discipline
  • Training and certification in an IT-related course such as computer networking and database management
  • Experience with project management
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills to be able to effectively communicate with technical and non-technical people
  • Knowledge of and experience with computer languages such as C++, Basic.Net, Java, HTML, XML, and so on
  • Knowledge of diverse operating systems such as Windows, MacOS, and Linux
  • Business and analytical skills in order to understand the business side as well as the technical side of the organization
  • Time management skills to keep the project within the timeframe to meet important milestones and deadlines
  • People and team management experience in order to manage a team or several teams of IT professionals if necessary
  • Experience with modeling and creating graphic presentations to facilitate team learning

Adding an enterprise architect to your organization is important if you want to make a smoother transition to digital operations, and if you want to keep up with or ahead of your competition. 

The benefits of having an enterprise architect in your organization include better decision-making, improved operational efficiency, reduced costs, faster time to market, and the ability to react quickly and efficiently to technology trends.

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