Posted by ACadmin on Apr 18, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Your Capacity for Excellence
You can achieve excellence by understanding the differences between good architecture and great architecture. An organization needs to create the right landscape to give an architect the room to enable and make actionable what will become the perfect blend of change, technology decisions, and competitive distinction. As you go through this book, you will find you have the capacity to achieve the traits and skills presented. You’ll recognize how to apply the skills you already possess and gain confidence in your existing abilities. Many new architects lack this confidence.
Acknowledge your existing talent as your journey in the role of EA begins. Use each step to identify your personal strengths—know yourself and assess your skills honestly. Identify your weaknesses in the same manner. Accept where you need additional knowledge and reflect how an EA would apply the skills you may possess from an IT-architecture perspective. A great example is in the area of analysis. Systems analysis and architecture analysis are different. Know the difference and plot your growth path.
Deep technical skills are not as important for the EA as soft skills. Human factors have become increasingly important today, especially in the area of business strategy. Emotional intelligence or neural linguistics has become a popular topic evident in many areas of business.
In addition, it is more important that EAs possess a wide range of technical knowledge than specific expertise. It is crucial that they at least possess general technical knowledge on most subjects, as they are going to work toward putting together large solutions. They need to appreciate the moving parts to understand the risk and the need for deeper technical viewpoints from other experts.
Great EAs will typically be great leaders, communicators, and politicians. They grow past the need to solve intense technical problems and are more interested in bigger-picture business challenges. When EAs select their favorite technologies out of habit or technical religious preferences, it actually hampers their efforts. The technology-neutral EA who selects the right technology or solution for both the context and requirements of the business problem becomes a much more valuable asset.
Overall, EAs should be visionary and passionate about the reasons enterprise architecture is critical to the business. They realize why we shouldn’t argue the benefits and the value of architecture. After truly understanding the benefits, it is difficult for them to operate in any other way. They are capable of looking past their personal preferences and just want what’s best for the business—plain and simple.
If you have a desire to become excellent, you might check out our group coaching page and take this program – it’s a great start for enterprise architects and you’ll be glad you did.
How to Create Value and Business Alignment with Enterprise Architecture
One of the biggest or most frequently questions I am asked by Enterprise Architects is how do I create value for the business, or show that my enterprise architecture is worth it to the stakeholders. The answer is simple, but not quite so straight forward to understand or to make happen. One must align the solution, or the solution set align with business goals. Easy right?
Ok, so I don’t come off quite so smug, here are a few steps one can take to get this done. There are lots of little details, but my goal here today is so that one gets the general concept. You’ll take a look at your business goals and determine which solutions you have or can create to make them reality. Let’s say your company has a goal of cost savings, time saving, efficiency, tracking or accountability, you then take a look at the workflow necessary to achieve these goals.
Review the work flow around the process to achieve the goal, and then consider the inputs required if you were to create a solution, the output that would be necessary for the business stakeholders to get the answers or results they desire. Think about the reports they desire for this information and who else would need this output – either a partner or another department. Often there is a component that requires an enterprise to report on the financial aspect or the logistical details, and that must be considered as well.
Consider what I’ve just shared – you’ll need to have a resource that is knowledgeable about creating this capability for your company. They’ll need business skills, documentation skills, modelling skills as well as the communication skills to extract this information from the business subject expert. They will need the experience in putting such a documentation work together and then finally, the skills required to communicate this piece of art to the designers, architects and engineers that can build this.
Along the way, the business architect will communicate with the technical staff in what can be done, and back and forth with the business subject matter experts to ensure this is possible, as well as close to correct and current as possible. Think about what is being built here — the architecture designed for the business will likely not change a lot, except where the company is about innovation, but as new technology and systems come along, they can be updated, and upgraded.
Various systems can be integrated and this new asset to your business can be considered as an asset in your business, and finally shown as value in the work of business and enterprise architecture.
Have you heard about the enterprise architecture project that went into the black hole? What can the enterprise architect campaign for and construct to prove their value? It’s not simple – it’s tedious and will include a focused body of work, but a company that doesn’t have this piece of architecture as an asset in their possession is greatly missing out in my personal opinion.
If a company really does want to focus on an enterprise perspective in their company’s solutions and technology, then it must start at the top and business architecture. A big project to attempt is to find cohesion across operating divisions and regions will benefit any company that wishes to create value inside of the enterprise architecture and alignment with the business areas.
The attempt can start with the baseline architecture focusing on the business architecture first, while providing clear direction for the future solutions portfolio. A target architecture showing business strategy should be created to manage technology. A baseline architecture that describes the linkages of the strategic direction to capabilities, capabilities to the solutions, and finally the solutions to the technology. Architects create the target architecture and the solution road-map which outlines the details of the work that is needed to arrive at the target state.
Doing all of these steps will enable the enterprise to have a strategy that will come to fruition, and the stakeholders will know the plan and the details of the work to be delivered in advance. The work for the projects to be delivered will be driven by all involved and the business objectives can be clearly aligned with the work to be delivered. Stakeholders will have a clear goal to be achieved, and their initial involvement and desired outcome will drive their participation and support of the
Taking small steps and creating short-term wins is an important part of a winning strategy.
It is critical to build solid footing for the sustained growth of your EA program, and to gain confidence, acceptance and support from the business and sponsors early in the schedule.
This presentation will allow you to expand and augment your EA Plan with tried and proven quick wins that will help you to gain credibility as an Enterprise Architect and give your program momentum to drive it to the next level.
Leverage simple tactics to kick-start the Enterprise Architecture Program
Apply quick, incremental successes as a powerful strategy to keep people motivated and dedicated
Here are a few Simple tactics to kick-start the Enterprise Architecture Program – 6 month window
It will be your Powerful tool to keeping people motivated and dedicated
We rarely share replays publicly, but we haven’t shared any major info lately, so in spirit of the season, here is a gift for you.
Posted by ACadmin on Jan 9, 2013 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What is the Enterprise Architect Role?
This question probably should have been #1 on my list of Top Enterprise Architect Questions, but I’ve given it number 4. The answer is lengthy, and I usually take at least an hour in my Architect Bootcamp classes to explain this one in detail. I get into great depth as to the various roles in IT Architecture, the relationship from one to another, as well as the relationship between the architects and the stakeholders, project managers, developers and other technologists.
In a nutshell, the role is to facilitate the creation of alternatives or solutions to a business problem where a combination of technologies and processes may be the solution. The EA role is to facilitate appropriate research, discussion and synthesize the alternatives and compare them to the appetite for risk and a match to the business strategy direction.
Here is a video that I shot that gives some context and describes some of the skills required for the role, and a couple of high level points in understanding the role.
Posted by ACadmin on Jan 2, 2013 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Upgrading Your Enterprise Architect Career in 2013
It’s the new year, and like most, you are back in your office or at your desk and looking at a mountain of strategies you need to implement, if you are lucky. If not so much, you are being dragged into meetings, to put out fires, or listen to what everyone else’s agendas are for 2013. Do you have one for your EA program? Or one for yourself personally in your career as an Enterprise Architect professional?
Here are a few things that you might consider if you haven’t set goals for yourself and an upgrade to your career in 2013:
1) Just like an architect, do a current state and target state analysis on your career. Where are you and where do you want to be. It might be a good idea to take a look back at the time that has elapsed since you took on this role and consider whether you have achieved what you set out to. If not – you might not have created written goals for your program, or for your own career.
2) Do any honest assessment at how you are performing. If you just had a performance review, this might be fresh, and hopefully a good memory from late last year. If not, can you do your own 360 review? Talk to the 5 people you interact with most and find out what they think you could do better and what they expect from you in 2013. To be honest, if they are thinking you will be moving some mountains, the time to set them straight is now.
3) Where are your three biggest strengths? How can you shift your role or planned efforts in 2013 to really leverage them?
4) Where are your three biggest weaknesses? If you are weak in communications, finding a way to become stronger should be your number one priority. Join a local meet up or networking group and find opportunities to speak up.
5) What are your action plans? If your weakness is putting strategies into action, plot out your next three steps to achieve your #1, 2 & 3 strategies, and plot these actions into your calendar right now. Ensure you have time allotted to either think about what must be done or set them in motion THIS week. There are only three days in the week left, but make sure you are doing something to set these in motion.
6) Shore up your role. Do you know exactly what it includes and are there others than need to be briefed on what it is you do. Consider what still remains on your plate from the role you had before becoming an EA, or what others ask you to do that falls outside the scope of your job description. No job description… uh… I think you know what I’ll tell you that is best to take care of next.
7) What will you do this year to fuel your career growth? Do you have education on your calendar? What about conferences, group participation and books that you wish to read.
8) What kind of community support do you have? Do you have peers to reach out to that you can toss around ideas and questions about your role and your career? If necessary – consider a mentor or coach and if this is new, you might check out options available to you – either internally or seeking someone from outside your organization.
9) What can you learn about the business that you are in to take on more of an entrepreneurial/strategic view? Is there someone in your organization that you can invite to lunch? are there meetings you can get yourself invited to? Pick a department in your organization, preferably the ones that align with your top three corporate priorities and aim to learn more about them each month
Forrester asked “If I’m a manager, one of the things that would be helpful for me to know is what the different levels of a career path are, and how do I find the right persons and bring them in to begin with? What are some key skills or characteristics that you see being necessary for a successful architect?
My answer was as follows: “That actually was the basis of my entire book. I did a section as well as an entire talk on how to find architects. I called it ‘Mining for Architect Skills’. It was about excavating within your company for the people that have currently those skills.
One of the top things on my list is what you mentioned: somebody that has a vision but is able to take that vision and carry it forward. Somebody that has already has those kinds of skills. Typically the skills that go along with that, are people that are open to having multiple perspectives, and as well being VERY strong in soft skills.
So specifically, they are strong especially in communication and presentation, and leadership. They’re politically savvy, they’re culturally aware. Culturally, we mean not necessarily we’re talking about respectful of multiple nationalities but I mean company culture. Understanding where to push, how to extract things, who to talk to, how to behave, how to accept the way the culture is moving within the company.
Also somebody that’s able to really see the vision, and at the same time they’re able to have a good handle on being able to drill down to get details. They see the big picture and they see the potential and possibilities about where an enterprise or an organization could move if they had a really good symphony between their business and their business goals and strategy and the technology that supported it.”
Forrester then asked “What about the technical side? Are there specific skills or certifications?”
My response: I’m a bit of an anti-certification kind of girl. I think that certification is purely for companies who feel it’s necessary when hiring consultants and it’s for employees – in that it just helps them move around from company to company. I don’t think that certification does a lot of justice, and it’s purely just because I’ve seen an awful lot about these certification programs and I don’t have a huge amount of respect for very many of them, especially one of the leading ones but I think that technology-wise, it depends on what your needs are.
We talked about the various levels within the career path. If I’m looking for contributors, I recommend to most companies that they do have somebody that has a core strength in vision and high level perspective and that’s the person and that is putting that enterprise program together. They really want to have the 3 strong people around them, somebody that has proven expertise in solution architecture, information architecture and technology architecture or infrastructure. Each would be really strong in their respective domain and then practicing at the enterprise level.
They would have a really broad understanding of the technologies that the company is using and they are able to go deep in at least one or two of the most prevalent technologies that are used. Not deep in the sense that you would sit down in front of a console and reconfigure hardware as an example, but they could have a conversation with the top two levels of technicians in the company and they would be able to understand what is being recommended and make decision around those recommendations.
For this entire interview, fill out the form on the right, and you’ll get access to listen to the entire interview. You will gain access to the full written transcript on the direction of career paths of IT architecture within a company, and the state of careers within the industry.
Last time I wrote about a few thoughts regarding the failure of the enterprise architecture programs. A Most are complicated. You have a great deal of difficultly explaining the benefits. It is probably one of the most common questions I’m asked. “How do I justify the work we are going to do on this?”.
First of all, that justification is going to have to be in layman’s terms. Turn off the psycho babble and really think hard about what your CIO will hear, and what your executives and stakeholders want to hear. It’s about the bottom line, and granted, most execs now know and accept that Enterprise Architecture is necessary for success, you are on a short leash.
So what is the single best way you can improve your chances at success?
Simplify, simplify, simplify. The EA team knows or should know what an excellent enterprise architecture looks like. Utopia includes a model of all you envision, and standards for everything your IT teams will build. It includes a fully build infrastructure that matches your plan.
What reality sees is the chaos that unfolds when a company first assembles your team.Â There are those that are nervous, and then those that set some high expectations based on their beliefs about what your group is setting out to do.
What if you were able to deliver a simple plan, with simple benefits understood by all, and you were able to do it with a minimal amount of planning? What if you could get the time you needed to put your plan together and find the fastest way to determine if your plan aligns with the business strategy of your company?
There are a few key ingredients you will need to assemble before you can achieve success:
You will need a simple plan that has been accepted by the business.
You will need a structured method in which you process, analyze and store your models, plans and decisions.
You will need to determine what format your work will take, and you will need to pin point where your “sweet spot” is; or the primary target focus for your program.
In just a few days, I will share with you how you can get these concepts achieved quickly. Everyone wishes that architecture could go more quickly. I say, “why not”.
It’s strange to me, but over the years I’ve heard about so many enterprise architecture programs that have failed that really shouldn’t have. When I asked the enterprise architect involved why they thought it happened, they usually had the same reasons.
1) We couldn’t show results fast enough 2) The business couldn’t see/understand value 3) We ran out of budget
I usually followed up with a few more questions. I’d ask about their enterprise architecture plan and status. A “We don’t really have a plan, we were too busy doing EA, they’d respond. A I’d nibble on that one.
“What kinds of activities were you doing?” I’d get answers like “trying to get various technologies to work”, “fixing large enterprise problems”, and descriptions of assignments on various software development and infrastructure replacement projects.
But were they really doing EA? Who sanctioned all of these activities? Where was their plan? What was their budget? What were their goals?
Many people who believe they are acting in an enterprise architect role are really taking on the role of technical architects or specialists. A They aren’t involved in enterprise level projects, but rather enterprise “pet” projects, or top priority projects. A Most can’t answer specific business benefits they’ll realize by completing these projects, and the answer is typical “because our CIO wants it done”. Many don’t know the business drivers, or the strategic objectives that match their activities.
Some were really valid answers and added value to the company and IT departments, but often lead to the cancellation of EA programs or maintained the absence of visibility in the organization for enterprise architecture. Most executives and sponsors won’t fund anything without a real plan and often teams forgo planning, or spend lengthy exercises that yield results inconsistent with their goals.
Stay tuned for the continued thoughts on this thread.
The Architect Coach is an IT Architect Coaching Service provided by Sharon C. Evans Career, personal and team coaching services are available in the field of IT Architecture specializing in Enterprise Architecture coaching for new chief and enterprise architects. Contact me today at 204.488.2819 or use our free consultation form to try out our services.
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