There is no right or wrong way to structure your enterprise architecture team, but there are some strategies that can help the process.
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Initial enterprise architecture business case affects team position within a company and position greatly impacts the EA team structure. This is important to consider when building EA into your organization.
It will have a direct effect on team roles with a goal to ensure EA activities are able to achieve business objectives.
There are three common position options for the enterprise architecture team:
This kind of function-centric enterprise architecture will position itself within the various functional verticals of an organization.
Their goal and focus are to consider the overarching business and process architecture of an organization, sourcing technology, and managing the cost of operations.
This type will employ different IT architects who will work alongside the main EA. Depending on where IT-centric EA is aligned will affect the outcome of the activities.
These depend on the needs of the organization and CIO; whether that be cost optimization, increased agility, or keeping up with key technology.
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This type of EA will leverage technology as a business accelerator and provide the highest value for modern EA. It will benefit an organization to employ team members with a variety of perspectives with the goal of sustainable strategic advantage.
Enterprise architecture teams will vary in structure, size, and composition depending on the size and complexity of the organization they serve.
There is no right or wrong way to structure an enterprise architecture team, but the approach must be driven by the EA business case.
As organizations continuously transform with time, so do EA teams.
In a centralized EA team, all business architects will report to one team leader. This leader (also known as the Chief Enterprise Architect) will guide the direction of the EA activities. The leader provides coherence between team members and stakeholders, creating consistent practices, and bringing uniformity across the organization.
This type of structure is preferred for small enterprises with fewer intersecting domains as the team will oversee all aspects of the technology infrastructure.
The benefit of this reporting structure is that it’s easier to manage, with just one architect dealing with the senior stakeholders.
It’s important with this model that the leader is able to manage the team effectively. Challenges can arise because EA activities may be seen as separate from the business units supported.
A decentralized EA team structure is one where the business architects report to more than one leader. There will be more than one senior architect in charge of each domain; for example IT, strategy, business, etc.
They will be experts in their domain, which tends to create tighter stakeholder integration and acceptance. This is a more suitable reporting structure for big enterprises with complex business and technology infrastructures.
Challenges may arise due to a lack of integrated architecture and the possibility of more inconsistencies in practices. It is also a much more complex structure to manage.
A hybrid EA team structure is a mix of both a centralized EA team and a decentralized EA team.
In this model, some business architects will report centrally to a Chief Architect while others will report to separate leaders. This is also a good structure for larger organizations.
Benefits of a hybrid EA team include consistent practices and integrated architecture, as well as improved stakeholder acceptance.
However, like the decentralized team, it can be harder to manage and control.
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As pmi.org describes, when it comes to project management, there are three strategies architects can use to build and structure a team. These are:
Each describes a potential starting point from which you can tailor your approach depending on the use case.
A collaborative EA team structure is used to support solution teams. Each team will have a designated architecture owner (AO) who is usually an agile solution architect.
This person is then responsible for guiding the team through decision-making processes and coaching other teams on architecture and design.
It’s vital that the AO has a good understanding of an organization’s enterprise architecture and needs. They also need to be able to collaborate closely with other architects in their team.
This team structure is typically used by architecture-led organizations and for large programs which require the work of a collaborative EA team.
Challenges: When using this model, it’s key for delivery teams and enterprise architecture teams to nominate their own AOs. They need to make sure that there is effective communication between the various architecture teams and stakeholders.
In an EA as a service team, stakeholders from external teams in the organization submit a request for the EA team to work on.
Work will typically involve reviewing processes and providing guidance on their architecture. This is a common type of team structure when EA teams are starting out or are new to an organization.
Challenges: Problems with this approach include underfunding and can devolve into a review-based or documentation-heavy approach to EA.
A large EA team structure is used when an organization has hundreds or even thousands of individuals in solution delivery teams. For that reason, those need a much more sophisticated approach to organizing their EA activities.
This requires a multi-level approach based on regions or domains. In the example:
Challenges: Due to the size of the project and the teams involved, difficulties can arise in collaboration. However, this approach should reflect the overall structure of the organization.
When an organization is building its first EA team, there are several steps to consider to set itself up for success. Enterprise architects need an organized approach that reflects the changing business strategy.
There are six questions to consider when building your EA team, these are:
In the rest of the article, we will go into more detail on how to create a high-impact enterprise architecture team.
There is no right or wrong way to structure your enterprise architecture team. Each structure has its advantages and disadvantages based on the needs of the organization. Thus, it helps to be flexible when it comes to your team structure.
However, by considering the outlined structures and steps, you can build an enterprise architecture team that’s well-equipped to support the organization's objectives, create an EA strategy, and select the EA tool for your needs.
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