The Open Group’s Terry Blevins Talks About How EAs Can Transition to a Strategic Role – Part One

enterprise architecture strategy

In an exclusive interview, Architecture & Governance Magazine interviewed Terry Blevins, a Fellow of The Open Group, about how enterprise architects can become strategic advisors to a business. Part one appears this week and part two next week. We’re also excerpting another part of the interview for the pages of the quarterly magazine.

By way of background, The Open Group is a vendor-and technology-neutral IT consortium that enables the achievement of business objectives through developing IT standards. It has more than 500-member organizations.

Why should Enterprise Architects consider becoming more of a strategic advisor to a business?

“Before answering that question, it is important to note that no architecture is a solution. Often people confuse a solution, such as corporate infrastructure, as the architecture. This is an all too common mistake and very misleading. An architecture guided the development of the infrastructure, the infrastructure is a solution – not the architecture.

“The architect’s role isn’t to create solutions. Rather the architect’s role is to inform decision-makers and guide development of solutions based on understanding business drivers and needs of the organization. Although a single person can have both a role as an architect and a developer. The architect typically takes a broader and material independent view than the developer, yet leaves much downstream detail to the development community.

“So, since architecture is not a solution what is it? It is a package of information that describes what is needed to achieve a given result and what it might look like in a future state if implemented. In order for an architecture to be effective, that is for it to be realized in solutions, it must guide decisions.

“Any good architecture addresses a well-defined scope and seeks to achieve specified goals. For example, an architecture for a back-office software suite will seek to enable improvements to back office operations, an architecture for a department network will enable department interconnectivity, an architecture for corporate infrastructure will address needed services throughout at lower costs, etc. For each scope there are decision-makers that can either accept or reject the guidance from the architect such as office managers, network managers, the head of IT, etc.

“Those that deal with Enterprise Architecture take the broadest view, deal with issues that are oftentimes beyond even the corporate level, and are most effective when they influence corporate or Board level decision-makers.

“Back to your question – why should Enterprise Architects consider becoming more of a strategic advisor to a business?

“Well the architect, whether a back-office application, network, infrastructure, or Enterprise Architect; isn’t the person that is actually responsible for meeting the business goals nor is the person responsible for making the changes necessary. The Enterprise Architect must influence the decision-makers to take the advice, and the development community to adhere to the guidelines. For the Enterprise Architect to be successful the business leaders and developers must be successful. Trust is obviously critical to this success!”