How to Become an Enterprise Architect (Essential Skills)

How to become an enterprise architect is a simple question to reaching that full height in the business of that profession. But you have a duty to first understand all what enterprise architecture entails.

Enterprise architects are solely responsible for designing and executing enterprise-wide systems. They also engage with Project Managers to ensure that the system is being developed on time and within the budget provided. To address and resolve opportunities and issues connected to business, information, and technology, they combine many various talents and expertise.

Absolutely, they understand the requirements of various business units and processes. This position demands good communication and analytical abilities to guarantee that the business unit has the necessary resources for success.

The enterprise architects need to have a good understanding of business and information technology to ensure that the system they are building meets the needs of both businesses and the technical teams. Strong leadership skills also characterize them as they work with a group of people with diverse expertise.

They also require strong communication skills to present the findings and recommendations to their senior management. They must thoroughly evaluate every business dimension and ensure that the Information Technology (IT) can support them.

Major Roles of an Enterprise Architect

As part of this discussion about what these professionals are good and not good at, let us carve a sharp look at some of their responsibilities in organizations where they are needed:

  • Developing architecture models

They develops models that portray how their suggested solutions will match the requirements of the business and thereby increase its efficiency. After the development of the model, Enterprise Architects employ technical skills to bring the creation to life.

  • Implement methods for compliance

All the team members are required to follow a compliance procedure. This is to avoid any potential problems. It includes storage of data, change of control, and implementation of new IT systems. Compliance procedures that align with the business requirements are often regularly updated.

  • System evaluation

Evaluation of the IT systems and related networks to find any vulnerability is also included in the job role of an enterprise architect. They must be able to identify any security risks and provide sustainable solutions for the business.

Essential Skills of an Enterprise Architect

Below are some of the important skills that an enterprise architect must have in order to facilitate his or her efficiency:

  • Leadership

Enterprise Architects by their nature are leaders. Although leading doesn’t necessarily mean having to manage direct reports, but rather may involve leading distributed teams in a matrixed organizational structure. Therefore, as you develop your career look to opportunities to lead teams and/or a particular project, epic, or initiative. Being responsible for others’ activities and tasks is quite different from merely being accountable for your own.

How to motivate your team, manage deliverables, resolve conflicts/ differences, identify, and mitigate risks, and manage budgets and issues (including knowing when to escalate), are just some of the skills that you will develop as a leader.

If you are used to sitting back and letting others take the reign, take the opportunity to develop some leadership experience by putting yourself forward. Yes, it can be daunting the first time you assume such a responsibility, but 99.99% of the time your peers and other leaders within the organization will want you to be successful in your role.

Don’t always assume that your leaders know how you are feeling, so get used to proactively reaching out if you need advice and/or support. Also use opportunities such as half-yearly or annual performance reviews to seek 360-degree feedback from your peers and leaders, on what you are doing well as well as how you may improve your skills to be a more effective leader.

  • Strategic Thinking and Communications Skills

This role calls for seeing the bigger picture and linking IT and business objectives. By mastering strategic planning, you can effectively create, implement and manage a company’s IT architecture, thus making strategic thinking an essential skill.

An enterprise architect collaborates with stakeholders, from C-suite executives to IT personnel. Consequently, good communication skills, both verbal and written, are vital for explaining complex ideas understandably and persuasively.

  • Negotiation

The ability to negotiate is another key skill to develop which also relies heavily on the maturity of your communications skills. Very rarely will your hypothesis, recommendation, or roadmap for example, be adopted verbatim. Be prepared to compromise but also to clearly state implications of short-term decisions that may incur enterprise debt and regretful spend.

Indeed, often tactical decisions can be justified, but ensure the implications on current (cost of work around) and future (cost of remediation) budgets are clearly understood, by the responsible owner. Apply your active listening skills to shape a compromise that recognizes both parties’ position, capture any key decisions as well as trade-offs, and obtain sufficient commitment to move forward with a plan. Accept that your plan may look quite different from what you initially proposed, but if moves the organization forward take this as a win.

  • Teamwork

Working as part of a team provides you with an opportunity to work to your strengths and equally to rely on others who may have different but equally important point of views and capabilities from your own. Strength in argument often comes from strength of contribution. Therefore, enlisting the broader thought leadership or community knowledge base in your organization will help to substantiate your hypothesis.

Provide others within your organization an opportunity to learn from your experience, and to share in the success as well as challenges associated with executing as an Enterprise Architect. You should never pass up the opportunity to pay it forward by assisting others within your team to gain the requisite competencies through hands-on experience. That is also the mark of a good leader.

  • Critical Analysis

The ability to critically evaluate, then summarize and present your hypothesis is another key skill to develop. Critical analysis requires good communication skills as well as the ability to be able to research and synthesize at times a great volume of content. Content may include journals, articles, vendor brochures, blogs and published research from organizations like Info-Tech, Gartner and Forrester, as well as qualitative and quantitative data from surveys and interviews.

Central to the skill of critical analysis is both the ability to identify key themes, to draw conclusions from the narrative and/or data presented, as well as to challenge the same narrative and or/data based on explicit (or implicit) bias. Backing up your argument with published sources may strengthen your hypothesis but equally failing to recognize potential bias can weaken it.

How to Become an Enterprise Architect

There are three basic steps to follow when it comes to the path that lead to becoming an enterprise architect. Here are they:

  • Obtain Relevant Certifications

Becoming an enterprise architect typically begins with earning a bachelor’s degree. Most employers prefer candidates with a degree in computer science, information technology, business or related fields.

Furthermore, you can also consider obtaining certifications related to enterprise architecture. These certifications, such as those offered by The Open Group’s TOGAF or the IASA’s Certified IT Architect (CITA), can demonstrate your expertise in the field and enhance your credibility.

  • Gain Experience

Next, gaining professional experience is important, possibly in a role such as a solution architect, business analyst or IT project manager. This experience will provide you with an understanding of information technology projects, systems and processes.

  • Improve Your Skills

Improving your skills regularly is key. Competencies like problem-solving, communication, strategic thinking and leadership will put you ahead of the game in this career. This is referred to as continuous learning and is essential for career progression.

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