To become an Enterprise Architect, typically it requires a combination of acquiring relevant experiences, the right skillsets and understanding the various roles in both Business & IT which includes the mastery of dealing with human beings more than with computer machines.
In terms of experience, ten years of ‘flying time’ is ideal. Most Enterprise Architects I know have over ten years of implementing IT projects, seeing billions of dollars go down the drain as a result and still not be put in jail for it; for most who went through this, it felt like a hundred years instead!
All of this may sound like a disaster movie and in most cases the outcome of some IT projects were not pretty, but to the Enterprise Architect, it is a feather in their cap, because they have gained an invaluable list of what works and what does NOT work.
For the aspiring Enterprise Architect, the trial and error process is still a time-honoured tradition and a very significant rite of passage to becoming a full-fledged true-blue Enterprise Architect. But things are getting better over the years, and with the right approach, availability of formal training and certification programs by both IASA and The Open Group, there now can be less trialling and also less errors.
FTSN: Components for a digital business-driven enterprise architecture
In order for us to begin our path to becoming an Enterprise Architect, ones needs to first understand the landscape of the Digital Enterprise Architecture. There are four components involved; FTSN; that an Enterprise Architect aspirant has to take into consideration when setting out on their journey. These are Frameworks, Tools and digital repository, Skillsets and Notation.
- Understanding Frameworks
- Frameworks are needed to qualify and manage the business, while facilitating IT and business integration. Frameworks are prescriptive but also meant to be iterative and methodological in nature, meaning that while the enterprise moves forward, the architect can also go back with the latest information to fine tune requirements, design and implementation.
- With the right framework, there can be less trial-and-error because a framework serves the purpose of addressing the strategy scope with set elements and tasks with the objective of improving communications and aligning resources across an organisation’s business and technology groups. Frameworks also help architects ensure consistency of value delivery to the enterprise.
- The Open Group’s TOGAF 9.1 is the Enterprise Architecture Framework adopted by many enterprises and government agencies when they implement Enterprise Architecture, and it is supported by many vendors and consulting firms.
- Tools and digital repository
- This central digital repository stores all artefacts required to build the Digital Enterprise Map, manage requirements across EA layers and it is the single source of truth for any aspect of the digital enterprise. The tools help Enterprise Architects to troubleshoot the business and to become more effective and productive in their roles.
- As in any other profession, by having the right tools, an average architect will become a good architect, and from thereon, a very competent one.
- For the IT professional or aspiring Enterprise Architect who wants to deliver values to the business, exposure to the business is a good place to start their career in Enterprise Architecture. IASA, the Global Association for All IT Architects, which has been working to formalise enterprise architecture as an industry -recognised profession, has determined the skillset requirements that every Enterprise Architect should acquire for career growth.
- These skillsets are organised into five foundational pillars as described in the IT Architecture Body of Knowledge or ITABoK, and these pillars are skills to model and realise the business strategy through technology (Business Technology Strategy or BTS), the skills and know-how to manage and deliver IT initiatives (IT Environment), the skills to solve problems within business and technology, and describe it before implementation (Design Skills), communication, social and soft skills (Human Dynamics) and the ability to ensure everything is implemented with quality considerations like performance, security, reliability and more (Quality Attributes).
- This is the universal notation to represents an enterprise architecture universal modelling language (UML) with which Enterprise Architects describe, model, visualise and communicate their work through a Digital Enterprise Architecture Map. This UML is used to also translate the map from the Strategic Layer to the Business Layer to the Application Layer to the Technology Layer and to also the Implementation Layer, and vice versa.
- The Open Group ArchiMate 3.0 is the universal notational language used to represent an Enterprise Architecture model, and it is supported by many tool vendors and consulting firms.
Industry Recognised Certifications
IASA and also The Open Group, also have identified the desired skills and certifications that is needed for aspiring as well as certified Enterprise Architecture professionals to have a meaningful and rewarding career as successful Digital Enterprise Architects.
The Enterprise Architecture training and certification programs do not give you just theories to study or formulas to memorise but it will also equip you with the right competencies required. For example, CITA-F, CITA-A, TOGAF and ArchiMate certifications require very rigorous training with extensive workshops to equip participants with the necessary knowledge, skillsets and attitude required to become recognised as a successful Enterprise Architect.
The CITA-F Certification provides recognition of the knowledge and skills an individual requires for a structured process towards becoming a practicing architect. The CITA-A Certification emphasises domain specialisations (Business Architecture, Information Architecture, Software Architecture, Infrastructure Architecture and Solution Architecture) based on the Business Technology Strategy foundational pillar of ITABoK, that leads individuals towards becoming a recognised practicing architect professional.
The TOGAF Certification represents a mechanism for demonstrating knowledge and application of TOGAF that leads to an ability in adopting TOGAF as the Enterprise Architecture Framework in the organisation. The ArchiMate Certification equips the architects with the ability to model the Digital Enterprise Map by applying the visual modelling language as part of the notational elements described in the ArchiMate structure.
In recent times, the Digital Enterprise Architect has also emerged to reflect the need for businesses to address digital transformation with Enterprise Architecture. In the digital transformation context, business and IT integration is emphasised and the Digital Architect is tasked with an enterprise-wide responsibility to produce business-driven outcomes, with the use of digitalisation.
The title “Enterprise Architect” is not a goal or destination to reach, but rather a career-long journey.
A good Enterprise Architect will know when to correct the course of the Digital Enterprise Architecture map; nothing is etched in stone and when requirements change, as they often do in the fast-paced world of business and technology, the Digital Enterprise Architect must know the design like he knows the back of his head and he must know what elements/artefacts to adjust and yet still achieve planned business outcomes.
Over time things are looking up for the Enterprise Architecture discipline as a profession. As more enterprises move towards digitalisation, there is increase in demand to install more Digital Enterprise Architects in the Enterprise Architecture Office (EAO).
In my opinion, the missing department every enterprise must have today to survive and excel in this digital era, is the Enterprise Architecture Office.
The presence of someone to perform the role of an Enterprise Architect is moving beyond just a nice-to-have towards becoming a function that is mandatory for enterprises that are serious about having a successful Digital Agenda.
About the Author: Aaron Tan Dani is a thought-leader in Digital EA and he is also actively driving Digital EA adoption and currently he is the Chairman of EA-SIG, Singapore Computer Society firstname.lastname@example.org, Chairman of Iasa Asia Pacific email@example.com and Chief Architect of ATD Solution firstname.lastname@example.org