Position, Structure, and how to build the

Enterprise Architecture Team

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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EA position within the organization

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: 

1. Function-centric EA 

Function-centric EA by TOGAFImage 1: Function-centric EA team position by Open Group

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.

2. IT-centric EA

IT-centric EA by TOGAFImage 2: IT-centric EA team position by Open Group

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.

📚 Related: Does enterprise architecture belong in IT?

3. Strategy-centric EA

Startegy-centric EA team position by Open Group.Image 3: Strategy-centric EA team position by Open Group

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.

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EA team structures based on reporting

Enterprise architecture teams will vary in structure, size, and composition depending on the size and complexity of the organization they serve.

Enterprise Architecture Team Structure

Image 4: Three ways to organize Enterprise Architecture team structures

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.

📚 Related: Building a Reporting Structure for the Enterprise Architecture Role

1. Centralized team

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.

2. Decentralized team

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.

3. Hybrid team

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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EA team structures based on project management

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:

  • Collaborative EA,
  • EA as a Service, and
  • Large EA structure.

Each describes a potential starting point from which you can tailor your approach depending on the use case.

1. Collaborative EA

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.

2. EA-as-a-Service

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.

3. Large EA structure

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:

  • 1st level: The first team works on a regional business unit, i.e. regional insurance in Europe,
  • 2nd level: The second team works on the region as a whole, i.e. whole of Europe, and
  • 3rd level: The third team works on the overall organization.

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.

 

How to build a new EA team?

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:

  • What are your goals?
  • Who are your stakeholders?
  • How can you involve your stakeholders?
  • What should your team size and structure look like?
  • What solutions do we need?
  • How can we gain buy-in from across the enterprise?

In the rest of the article, we will go into more detail on how to create a high-impact enterprise architecture team.

  1. Define the scope and objectives of the team
    Before building your enterprise architecture team you need to consider what the team’s objectives and responsibilities are.
    This means analyzing and identifying business processes, IT systems, and other infrastructure items that will help the team set goals and provide solutions.

    📚 Related:  Nine Use Cases solved with EA

  2. Determine the composition of the team
    It’s vital that you choose roles with the right responsibilities to achieve the goals set in the early stages of the team-building process.
    Once the scope and objectives have been defined, the next step is to create a team of IT architects, analysts, and other specialists.
    This can include project managers, solution architects, business analysts, IT specialists, etc.

  3. Recruit team members
    The next step is to recruit individuals with the right skills and experience for your team. This involves collaborating with HR or recruitment agencies and communicating the required qualifications and needs to find the right people.
    They will then review resumes, conduct interviews and together with you select the right candidates for the team.

  4. Establish governance and operating model
    Now that your team is coming together, the next step is to establish EA governance and define how the team will operate.
    This includes how decisions are made, how reporting will work, and the relationship between your team and other areas of the organization.
    This can involve creating procedures and policies for the team to follow and establishing lines of communication between major stakeholders.

  5. Provide training and development
    Training and development is the key to the success of any EA team. As business needs to change and adapt over time, so does the underlying enterprise architecture.
    It's essential all team members have access to workshops, courses, and mentoring programs that allows them to perform their jobs effectively in the future.

    📚 Related: The Enterprise Architect of Tomorrow

  6. Align & lead the organization's strategy
    Before starting EA activities, it’s key to align the enterprise architecture team's goals with the company’s overall business strategy. This is one of the main reasons for implementing enterprise architecture within an organization.
    This means understanding business objectives and working with stakeholders to align technology with business processes to achieve company goals.

 

What's next?

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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Answers to frequently asked questions on enterprise architecture team

What is an enterprise architecture team?

An enterprise architecture team is a group of people within an organization, tasked with aligning the organization’s business strategy and IT. An EA team can include enterprise architects, solutions architects, project managers, and other IT experts or analysts.

How do architects collaborate with the lean-agile center of excellence?

Architects collaborate with the lean-agile CoE by defining and maintaining the structure of solutions. That way, they can agree on the standards, protocols, and technologies needed to run a lean infrastructure that is in line with business objectives.

Where does EA fit on the organizational chart?

In an organization, the EA team can fit into multiple verticals, depending on the business case the EA was started. There are three options: First, the function-centric EA can fit under each business vertical. Second, the IT-centric EA can fit within the IT vertical. Thirdly, a strategy-centric EA can fit under business strategy or operations verticals.