Skill sets, Career Paths, and Must-Haves of

Enterprise Architect

What is the role of an enterprise architect, why is it important, and what skills and qualifications are needed to become one?

► Compare EA's role to other IT architects!

Introduction

Aligning business technology with an organization's strategy and goals can often be a complex and overwhelming process without the right tools and expertise. Enterprise architects are now a valuable part of any modern and traditional enterprise. Enterprise architecture is a strategically and technically high-level role that scales elements of IT architecture for critical use in enterprise environments.

While business transformation employs many skilled and specialist roles, enterprise architects should not be confused with solution, technical, or business architects. While there is an overlap, the overarching purpose of each role differs.

 

What is an enterprise architect?

An enterprise architect is an IT professional who ensures an organization’s IT strategy is aligned with its business goals. They analyze business properties, define all business needs, and the external environment.

EAs work closely with stakeholders, management, and SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) to develop and implement an organization's strategy, information, processes, and IT assets. An EA is responsible for using this knowledge to ensure IT and business alignment.

9 Use Cases for Enterprise Architecture

Role

Among all IT architects, EAs will have the most overarching view of an organization, and vast knowledge of its business capabilities and potential. EAs play a key role in identifying business needs using both external factors (such as competitors) and internal factors (such as the company's IT landscape).

The role of an EA requires strategizing to manage legacy and cloud systems, replace obsolete software and lead migrations to support business operations across each department. 

Day-to-day

While other IT specialists such as technical architects focus on solving day-to-day technology solutions, enterprise architects will be strategizing multi-year roadmaps to enable business growth, ensure compliance and reduce the complexity of key business and IT processes.

During the day-to-day, EAs will play a vital role across the enterprise IT landscape; they will be defining the applications, establishing architecture principles, leading digital transformation, developing enterprise frameworks, decommissioning or transforming legacy applications, data migration, security, privacy, etc.

EAs will also be mentoring the team to move an organization toward its target architecture.

Myths

There are a few myths that organizations should be aware of before employing an enterprise architect and employing an EA strategy. Enterprise architect myths include:

  • EA has no value for agile companies: Even though agile companies cover some aspects of EA's role, they still miss out on the benefits of data-informed business transformations, time efficiency, and risk management. 
  • EA is a one-time effort/used for one-off projects: EA requires a continuous effort to produce value for an organization, and should not be viewed as a one-off exercise. 
  • If you follow TOGAF you must be a good EA: TOGAF is considered the best framework but in practice, EAs most often use pieces of different frameworks at once to fit their organization and EA tool.

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Skills & qualifications

There are several skills and qualifications required to be a successful enterprise architect.

Skills

Both soft and hard skills are required to become a successful EA which becomes visible already in common enterprise architect interview questions. The role requires both strong communication skills as well as analytical skills to ensure that businesses have the right tools for success. Skills include: 

  • Problem-solving: Ability to define which issues need to be addressed, and the variables that may affect their resolution. Plus the ability to come up with solutions that effectively address business and IT issues through technical analysis, troubleshooting, research, evaluation, and communication. 
  • Consensus building: Discussing with stakeholders and getting agreement on the problem and solution. This requires both strong verbal and written communication skills to settle conflicts.
  • Solution realization: Turning solution proposals into reality throughout the process of development, testing, and deployment.
  • Solution management: Ability to manage the solution through its lifecycle.
  • Leadership: Strong leadership skills are needed to empower employees and IT teams to remain on task and meet deadlines.
  • Knowledge: Fluency to develop and use solution architecture frameworks, patterns, and best practices to drive business transformation.

Qualifications

Enterprise architect qualifications are varied because they can come from a variety of backgrounds including business analysts, consultants, IT specialists, or leadership. A combination of education and experience is required to become an EA. 

  • A minimum of 7 years of analysis experience is expected. 
  • Experience and knowledge in at least one aspect of the business (engineering, manufacturing, planning, etc).
  • A Bachelor's or Master’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field.
  • The relevant certificates to prove competency. 

Responsibilities & deliverables

Responsibilities 

  • Evaluate technology strategy, organization, business applications, and infrastructure. 
  • Advise on enterprise architecture landscape, including technology, information, data, security, and integration 
  • Implement large-scale, innovative IT solutions to drive business transformation. 
  • Evaluate and identify IT-related risks.
  • Develop technology strategy and planning deliverables to address IT risks and improve the effectiveness of the IT organization, especially in business application integration.
  • Produce target-state solution architecture, and perform assessments and gap analysis.
  • Help formulate the overall solution strategies and roadmaps.
  • Help establish one or more Centers of Excellence. 

Deliverables

  • Modeling business capability maps: Map business capabilities based on EA best practices and discover applications related to each business capability.
  • IT landscape reports: Discover and manage all applications within the organization, dependencies, and data flows.
  • Migration roadmap and project plans: Create roadmaps with all dependencies when moving from old systems to new ones. The best example is the migration from the old SAP ECC to S/4HANA.
  • Current state vs. future state diagrams: Build diagrams that represent as-is architecture and target architecture.
  • Application criticality reports: Create reports to show the importance of applications within the IT landscape. 
  • Produce lifecycle roadmaps of IT landscapes: Assess applications by business criticality and functional & technical fit.

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Frameworks

EAs leverage working methodologies and frameworks developed by consortiums, governments, or prominent tech companies which have laid the groundwork for today’s modern enterprise architecture practices. The most popular enterprise architect frameworks are:

  • The Zachman Framework: This framework is an EA ontology that uses a schema for organizing architectural artifacts (e.g. design documents, specifications, and models). The Zachman Framework aims to take into account and synergize both the artifact targets (business owners and system builders) and the particular issue that is being addressed (e.g. data and functionality).
  • TOGAF: This is a method of designing, implementing, guiding, and maintaining the construction of enterprises using controlled phases—or, as it is known, the “Architectural Development Method (ADM)”. Its strategies have been iteratively improved upon for 25 years.
  • FEAF: FEAF was initially designed for use by the U.S. Government to integrate its federal agencies. It is a collaborative planning methodology that has become a popular EA model used in private enterprises.
  • Gartner EA Framework: Gartner, a global leader in IT research and insights, has put forward enough best practices for enterprise architecture solutions throughout the years that it has built its own methodology. This one focuses more so on business outcomes than abstract phasing.

Salary

The average salary for an enterprise architect can range from $96,000 to $175,000 per year, depending on the level and experience. The average EA's salary in the United States is currently $137,639.

EA's salary expectations will range hugely based on experience, certifications, and qualifications. As increasingly sought-after IT and business landscapes are becoming increasingly reliant on one another, this will also factor into salary negotiations.

It will also vary depending on the country and state (in the USA).

Level Average Salary
Senior Enterprise Architect $157,064
Enterprise Architect $130,995
Entry Level EA $99,375

Career path

Most people don’t just become enterprise architects overnight but will have come into the role from a variety of different career paths. The majority have degrees in computer science or IT management, and have then spent many years gaining relevant experience through other strategic or planning positions; such as corporate or business planning, senior IT positions, or even C-level roles.

The most common path is starting as an individual contributor or consultant, moving to a solution architect role, and later on to an enterprise architect.

The job role requires applicants to have a strong educational background and at least 7 years of experience before seeking employment as an enterprise architect. Any career training provided within an organization will focus on familiarizing architects with the IT systems and business processes already in place within the company.

Certifications

Certifications prove to any employer that the candidate has the relevant experience to be a successful EA. Some certificates are more valuable than others, however holding several certificates will only be a benefit to employers.

These are arguably the most important enterprise architect certifications:

Tools

As the discipline has developed, more and more EA tools have become available to help architects and businesses achieve their goals and target architecture. Modern enterprises require tools that facilitate the implementation of a business strategy focused on business outcomes and risk mitigation. Therefore, selecting the best EA tool for your organization proves to be essential.

The LeanIX EAM is designed to manage the transformation and risk of an organization’s IT landscape. This tool leverages technology to make decisions and manage change using an outcome-driven approach. Other enterprise architecture tools are available for application portfolio management, technology & risk management, and business transformation.

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What are the must-haves for a successful enterprise architect?

To be a successful EA, candidates must be deeply knowledgeable of EA best practices and have strong leadership and organizational skills. How to be the most successful? Focus on these values:

  • Excellent communicators and collaborators. They will need to work with stakeholders, IT teams, and C-level individuals daily. 
  • A proven track record of 7-10 years in a relevant field. 
  • A good understanding of business and IT processes, and how they align.  
  • Insight, vision, and understanding of the overarching needs of the business. 
  • To be able to produce solutions to complex business and IT objectives effectively through technical analysis, troubleshooting, research, evaluation, and communication. 
  • Leadership skills to empower employees to remain on task and meet deadlines. 
  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science, IT, or related.

 

Comparison to other roles

enterprise architect vs solution architect vs technical architect

Enterprise architect vs. data architect

While there is a crossover between the two roles, Data Architects and Enterprise Architects aren’t one in the same. A Data Architect is specialized in data management and will work through EA methodologies on the “What," "How," and "Where" of a project in regards to gathering and analyzing data. Enterprise Architects, however, are responsible for the over-arching needs and success of the project – not just the data.

Enterprise architect vs. chief architect

An Enterprise Architect and the Chief Architect have similar roles, however, the Chief Architect will take on a more administrative role. The Chief Architect is responsible for all the architectural activity across the business to ensure needs are being met everywhere. Their job is to make technology choices, supervise the implementation of designs, and develop high-performance architects.

Enterprise architect vs. software architect

Software Architects provide a hands-on approach to architecture by providing technical leadership within the project lifecycle. They are responsible for integration standards and strategies within software development, and are not so concerned with the wider business activities of the organization as an enterprise architect would be. It is another senior position involved with decision-making in regard to tools and platforms to be used.

Enterprise architect vs. system architect

A System Architect defines the architecture of a computerized system. Their job involves dividing complex systems into manageable smaller systems which can be handled by individual engineers. It is another high-level position and has a strong background in computer science and information technology to assist in the design, scheduling, troubleshooting, planning, and pricing of major projects. Once again, the Enterprise Architect is more concerned with an organization’s business objectives in regards to their IT systems.

New call-to-actionEnterprise architect vs. principal architect

A Principal Architect has a broader set of responsibilities. They will normally have general concerns rather than a focused specialization on a single architecture domain. They tend to be responsible for producing the contract documents. Principle architects typically have overall responsibility for a portfolio of solutions and involve a more diverse set of stakeholders. 

An Enterprise Architect, on the other hand, is concerned with the informed strategic execution of solutions. They design elements of business initiatives in accordance with a planned future state that includes and reflects the strategic goals of the organization.

Enterprise architect vs. business analyst

A business analyst understands the value of a project or initiative and focuses on the business's needs and solution delivery. Business analysts and enterprise architects have similar responsibilities but BAs are primarily concerned with the facilitation of communications between tech groups to make sure requirements are successfully implemented. EAs are involved in both sides of the business and IT. Business analysts are more concerned with business activities. 

 

Conclusion

IT architects, such as enterprise architects, business architects, solution architects, and tech architects are a dream team when planning and executing the transformation and upgrades of an organization’s business activities and processes. These roles successfully work together to align the company's technological resources with its business practices and to continuously transform.

Enterprise architects are here to stay but they require collaborative and intuitive tools to achieve their purpose. Without it, the EAs can be seen as a one-time project that only exists for IT.

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The core competencies of IT architecture

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How to become an Enterprise Architect

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How to become a Solution Architect

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How to become a Technical Architect

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The daily use cases tackled by each role

Answers to frequently asked questions on enterprise architects

What does an enterprise architect do?

The role of an Enterprise Architect is to ensure that an organization’s IT strategy is aligned with its strategic goals. Their job is to analyze business properties, and the external environment and define business needs. 

Is an enterprise architect a good job?

Yes, the role of an enterprise architect is a sought-after, highly specialized position that is in great demand in a variety of different industries. 

How do I become an enterprise architect?

To become an EA, candidates need to have a strong educational background (Bachelor’s or Master’s in IT or computer science) and at least 7 years of experience in a similar or relevant field before seeking employment. 

What are the skills of an enterprise architect?

Skills to be a successful Enterprise Architect include:

  • Excellent leadership skills.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • A proven track record of 7-10 years of experience in a relevant field.
  • A solid understanding of business and IT processes, and how they align. 
  • Insight, vision, and understanding of the overarching needs of the business.
  • Ability to research, test, and implement solutions to complex business and IT objectives. 

Are Enterprise Architects in-demand?

Yes, enterprise architects are in demand due to the specialized nature of the role.

How hard is it to become an enterprise architect?

Most organizations require their EAs to have at least 7 years of experience in a relevant position, which means that it can take some time to build up the expertise required to become a successful EA. Enterprise Architects are also required to have a strong understanding of both business principles and IT landscapes, and all the ways they intersect.

Lastly, employers require their candidates to have achieved certain qualifications and certificates in the field to prove their understanding of best practices and EA methodologies. 

Is enterprise architect a technical role?

Yes, an enterprise architect is a technical role as they deal with technical aspects of the business. However, EAs are not the same thing as technical architects.

Lastly, employers require their candidates to have achieved certain qualifications and certificates in the field to prove their understanding of best practices and EA methodologies. 

Why do you need an enterprise architect?

Both traditional and modern businesses need enterprise architects to align multiple departments, connect business models, articulate challenges and discover business risks. Enterprise architecture plays an important role in the overarching structure of the business and is key in unifying and coordinating processes across an organization. 

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