Enterprise Architect Job Description

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An enterprise architect (EA) is challenged with taking a company's business strategy and then defining an information technology systems architecture to support that strategy. Qualified enterprise architects are a rare breed as they must understand a company's business while still being able to delve into nitty-gritty technology issues. Prior to recent years, the role was largely one that existed within the banking industry. However, that has changed and now EAs can be found throughout the corporate landscape as companies are put under more and more pressure to align business objectives with the IT infrastructure that supports those goals. This role often works closely with the CIO which makes it very influential.

Enterprise Architect Skills

It's no secret that more than 50% software and hardware projects typically fail to achieve the goals of the stakeholders. And that's where an EA comes in to ensure that the technology objectives of the enterprise are aligned to the business goals. The continued increase of service-oriented architecture (SOA) deployments has further solidified the need for the EA role. In particular, to capitalize on the potential cost savings with SOA, software quality and reusability must be put front and center. Thus, an enterprise architect must be able to see whether the application has been built with correct emphasis on these elements. And while an EA doesn't necessarily need to know how to program, they do need at least the ability to to recognize software patterns and the solutions associated with those patterns.

In terms of qualifications, a BS or potentially an MS or PhD will go a long way. Should a candidate also have an MBA that would be a bonus. At the moment, colleges and universities don't offer degrees specifically in enterprise architecture, but there are at least certification programs focused on commonly accept concepts, best practices, and tools. Related certifications, while not mandatory, are good ways to assess one's breadth of knowledge.

Communication is a key skill coupled with self-confidence. Enterprise architects must be able to talk in the language of technical developers and then switch to the language of business managers. They need to be comfortable literally put themselves in front of the people and telling the most senior person in the room unwelcome news e.g. an project won't make its deadline. EAs also need to demonstrate that they're on the cutting edge of enterprise software and SOA.

How to Find an Enterprise Architect

Enterprise architecture is an emerging specialty making it a challenge to find people with the desired skill sets. One way to help facilitate the search is to perform a wide geographic search especially if a company is willing to relocate a new hire. Poaching from consultancies and systems integrators is another approach as such environments allow for staff to hone their IT and business skills on various projects with different areas of focus, industries, and technology.

Be forewarned about candidates who claim their IT projects have been 100 percent successful. That's just unrealistic and interviewees must be willing to discuss projects where they didn't achieve the goal to prove to you that they are capable of learning from experience.

Some application architects are able to make the jump up to the next level and become EAs. But an application architect must have been previously exposed to more than just software development or they will surely fail. Previous consulting experience will also help.

Salary Range - $130,000 to $150,000

Salary ranges are notoriously off the mark. Your skills and experience will obviously play an important role in determining if you fall within the range. In addition, the company's location and how strongly they perceive their needs to be are going to be big factors. Be sure to negotiate, it's expected.

Also note that at mid-sized companies, the Enterprise Architect is often the highest-paid of all IT staff. This can cause some friction.

References
CIO Magazine, September 1, 2007
CIO Magazine, January 15, 2009


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