Since convening the Enterprise Architecture Special Interest Group in conjunction with the Australian Computer Society (WA Branch), we are often asked “what makes a good Enterprise Architect”? We can quote qualifications, certifications and competencies – that ensures that we have the theoretical elements covered. Anyone with a reasonable intellect and desire to do so can do the theory and pass exams and assessments, and usually it’s a good starting point. (I have a view on certifications but that’s for another day). It’s a very broad question and could take more than a blog entry to answer. Most of the people that ask the question we find are usually struggling to get acceptance of EA into their organisation.

So let’s reframe the question to be “How can you be a good Enterprise Architect in an organisation that doesn’t embrace enterprise architecture”? Enterprise Architects can make a significant contribution even if the organisation doesn’t have a formal EA programme – if all activities are designed to support and improve the position of the business, are well managed, and are outcomes focussed. Without control and defined outcomes a large amount of time, effort and money can and probably will be wasted.

The Enterprise Architect must understand the issues the business is facing and not just the technology issues.

So my answer to “How can you be a good EA in an organisation that doesn’t embrace EA?”

  • Understand the business and the industry that the organisation is in.
  • Understand and communicate the capabilities required to execute the organisational strategy.
  • Have the capability to build a level of robustness and integrity to the various architecture elements.
  • Develop influencing skills and the ability to communicate a compelling argument.
  • Take the organisation on a journey not a magical mystery tour.
  • Build credibility.