IT Architect David Jones Discusses IASA’s Architect CITA-F (Foundation) Core Training Program and the Value It Offers

By all measures, David Jones has been a highly successful, knowledgeable and driven IT leader who has delivered real value to organisations for more than 30 years, reaching Chief Architect and CIO/Director of IT levels.

But it may be his contribution to the architecture profession and IASA Global as well as taking on Product Owner for the long established and respected IASA Architect CITA-F (Foundation) Core Training Program that may leave his most lasting legacy.

CORE, as the course is called, develops a clear pathway and defined baseline for successful BT architects. Jones notes that is all about the engagement model, behaviour, skills and tools of the architect, not the architecture. It is not simply foundational, it is CORE, added Jones.

This course prepares architects to deal with the most difficult aspects of technology architecture practice. Even very senior technology architects have benefited from the well-researched and proven techniques that have gone into connecting and using these critical elements.

To learn more, we reached out to Jones for his thoughts on the following questions.

Question: Tell us about your role?

A: I am an IASA Distinguished Architect (CITA-D) as well as Ireland’s Country Lead within the Global Chief Architect Forum. My roots are from software engineering and my passion was Design and Architecture. I followed an Architect career path across a number of specialisations and reached senior leadership positions but still with that practitioner hand in where I could.

I am also an IASA Instructor, Mentor and Product Owner for the IASA Core Course and a Coach and Board member for Architect Certification. It is important for architects to give back to the industry and this is my contribution.

Q: How would you describe the course?

 A: The course is structured into 16 lessons with 20 interconnected exercises (completed in teams) that walk through the Demand & Supply chains of an Architect’s engagement with clients, customers and other key stakeholders typical in any business.​ On the final day of the course each of the teams present back to the class reflecting on what they have achieved and the interconnected path taken.​

Q: What are the benefits of attending the IASA Core Course in person?  

A: It’s an immersive experience collaborating with a team to complete the interconnected exercises in an efficient flow without the distractions and pauses of work life. It also provides for a more engaging experience in discussions and knowledge sharing between students from their work experience/backgrounds. There is a real energy and passion that comes through the room.

Q: Give us an example of how the course can assist architects

A: We want to help attendees become great architects (or at least know the path to one). To do so, they possess strengths in three major areas:

Dealing with Business Concepts – This set of competencies deals with understanding how business works and how it impacts architecture. These concepts include Business Models, Customer Journeys with Personas, Capabilities with Objectives, Value Methods, Investment Planning with some Road mapping.

Technology Strategy, Design and Delivery – Technology options analysis and linking back to business objectives, rigorous decision recording, technology depth, breadth and design are all critical to architecture success. At a minimum an architect should be able to handle design including Patterns, the primary Requirements/Decisions/Quality Attributes relationships, Architecture Analysis, Deliverables, Products/Projects, Services, and Quality Assurance. Architects should be able to successfully navigate the waves of technologies and innovations and where in the maturity curve they will play.

Dealing with Stakeholders – often overlooked, always under-trained, and never enough time or techniques, dealing with stakeholders is the hardest part of the job. Humans are mercurial, the lines of decision traceability and influence are blurred, it is effectively chaos in the lifecycle management of companies with lots of petty power plays and even more in terms of financing and final outcomes. But at a minimum, Stakeholder, Employee Culture and Mindset, Engagement Models with Deliverables and Engagement Touchpoints and then a number of competencies tied to those.

Q: What are the outcomes of the course?

At the end of this course, you will understand the fundamental role of an architect and the integrated architecture practice, the business and its stakeholders you add value to and an engagement flow with a set of tools to achieve that.​ A reference point if you like of what it means to be an Architect and how to behave. You can take these learnings and tools into your organisation along with a wealth of further material provided in the IASA body of knowledge (BTABOK).

Ultimately this course and the CITA-F certification will help you setup up for success in the Architect profession​, experiencing what’s core to making you​ a better architect​, being part of an architecture practice that adds value to your organization and ultimately being successful and excel in your career.

Q: How is the course delivered?

A: The course premise is very much you learn by doing. In each lesson there is a small amount of learning slides to help prepare for the workshop exercises that follow. A contrived Case Study is used to support the learning outcomes within the course timeframe.​

Extensive use of a subset of Visual based Templates (Canvasses/Cards) is made, preloaded in a visual tool, to capture important architecture information.​ This is referred to as the Structured Canvass approach in the IASA BTABOK.

Students will collaborate in teams using the visual tool, present back to the wider class to be challenged and have open discussion/debate.

There is an open book exam of multiple-choice questions that need to be completed within a certain timeframe of completing the course in order to be awarded the CITA-F certification level. Guidance on the exam and material to study is provided on the final day.

Get ready for an intensive week of knowledge sharing, debate and teamwork with a set of architecture artefacts that you will be impressed with what you achieved.​

Q: Who is the course suitable for?

A: This course is suitable for 1) Architects (regardless of your specialisation) that are either new into the role, are somewhere on their career journey or are seasoned Architects (sharpening/updating their skills or preparing for CITA-P/D certification) 2) Experienced IT staff from other roles that are seriously considering the move into Architecture or 3) Senior IT leaders that are considering establishing/improving their Architecture practice and career paths for their staff.

With the workshop-based approach and careful choice of team makeup by the instructor at the start of the week, team members draw on each other’s direct and indirect experience for a balanced outcome bringing everyone along regardless of your starting point!