Happy reader question Monday, everybody! Unlike last week (exigent circumstances) and the week before (US holiday), I can actually bring you one on Monday. I’m trying hard not to pull a muscle patting myself on the back.
Anyway, today’s reader question has to do with the enterprise architect position. Specifically, what do I think of it?
It’d be great to hear your thoughts on [the enterprise architect], I’m sure there’s more than an article’s worth on that subject.
Simple enough. So let’s talk enterprise architect.
Prior Art on Enterprise Architects and Regular Architects
I have, in fact, talked about the architect position before. It’s hard not to when you’ve blogged for as long as I have and as much as I have. The architect role is almost as ubiquitous as the software developer role.
I once talked about the architect role as a pension plan for developers. The pyramid shaped corporation creates a stigma that staying “just” a programmer means failure in a career development context. So even as organizations (mercifully) move away from the “software as construction” metaphor, the concept of architect persists. It persists because it gives companies an organizationally meaningless way to let someone be “more” than “just a developer.”
I’ve also made posts about the needless division between reasoning about software at a holistic versus granular level and about moving beyond this distinction and the construction metaphor. These probably weren’t quite as provocative, and they didn’t dive into the toxic role of the pyramid shaped corporation in knowledge work.
But it appears I’ve never specifically talked about the enterprise architect. Well, let’s do that now.
The Impressive Enterprise Architect
What is an enterprise architect, anyway? Well, presumably, it’s someone who trades in enterprise architecture, which is like architecture, but more enterprise-y. Let’s ask wikiepdia.
Enterprise architecture (EA) is “a well-defined practice for conducting enterprise analysis, design, planning, and implementation, using a comprehensive approach at all times, for the successful development and execution of strategy. Enterprise architecture applies architecture principles and practices to guide organizations through the business, information, process, and technology changes necessary to execute their strategies. These practices utilize the various aspects of an enterprise to identify, motivate, and achieve these changes.”
Wow. Pasting that into the WYSIWYG made my Flesch Ease of Reading score plummet by 20% as I’m typing this. That alone probably makes it enterprise-y. Plus, it plugs in “utilize” as a synonym for “use,” so you know it’s official.
If we unpack — eck, who am I kidding? There’s no unpacking that rhetorical peacock. Enterprise architecture is, truly, using a comprehensive approach to practice conducting analysis, design, planning, and implementation to develop and execute architectural patterns and practices that guide organizations through changes related to business, information, process, and technology utilizing various aspects of the enterprise to identify, motivate, and achieve said changes.”
Crap, there goes another 15% off of my readability. Now only people with tattoos of Gantt charts can read this post.
So what is enterprise architecture, and what, then, does the enterprise architect do? Well, whatever else they do, they apparently seek to make sure no one ever asks them what they do again.