Seven basic guidelines for the enterprise architect

November 26, 2011

Guideline 1. Don’t create architectures for the sake of creating

Even if you have the best architectural idea don’t sacrifice more time than the situation demands.  If you don’t find a strongly anchored representative in the organization, who can finance the idea and convince a broader group of people, abandon any further activities.  But make sure that the idea gets through to the organization. When the time is right, somebody will hopefully come back to it.

Guideline 2. Be as engaged as necessary

Enterprise architect is a role in which on the same day you must cooperate with business representatives as well as e.g.  system designers  from the development units. Don’t become lost in either of these two responsibilities. Just touching the surface of the problem (looking at it from a high perspective) will in consequence lead to  the disappearance of knowledge about architecture quality and loss of trust in the development units.  Looking at it from a low perspective (detail-oriented approach) will cause loss of control over the whole architecture and business units will treat you as a representative of the development unit.

Guideline 3. You  are responsible for quality and readiness for changes

Your role is to ensure that every idea can be realized as quick as possible. As quick as possible doesn’t mean “just anyhow”. Your role  is to ensure the architecture quality. Balancing between agility and quality is your daily bread.

Guideline 4. Architecture decision trade-offs are permissible, but…

Remember that, ideal solutions cannot be created. If the situation demands it we must allow for compromise solutions. Remember however, that such solutions hold well in time and in the future will be treated as referential. Take care that, after the compromise the architecture comes back  to the expected state.

Guideline 5. Don’t forget about social complexity

Enterprise architecture means reconciling of every unit interested in it. Trade-off is an obvious thing. just as obvious as the necessity to understand and to take care of the interests of the highest number of groups in the organization.

Guideline 6. Don’t pretend to be all-knowing 

Everyone makes mistakes and a mistake of an enterprise architect can have long lasting effects for the company. Consult. Verify. Test your ideas by colliding them with other points of view. Transparency of actions and decisions must be the foundation of your work.

Guideline 7. Strategic business goals drive the architecture, but…

In the time of dynamic changes to economic and financial markets stability is practically impossible to achieve. Definition level of goals is often too general for the architecture to fit such goals.  Remember that, your goal is to ensure the balance between architecture quality and readiness for changes – whatever they may be.