After participating in a very active discussion on the role of an EA in the past few weeks there were many remarks on what traits an EA should have in an organization. With more than 50 EA’s participating in the discussion in the LinkedIn EA community I was amazed at many of the comments which I summarized in an existing Google Wiki attached in – Characteristics of a Good EA. These are all good attributes of the “pure” Enterprise Architect which ultimately depends on the organization and culture you work for.
One aspect of how an Enterprise Architect fits into any organization is based on size of that enterprise they work in. In smaller and mid-sized organizations, enterprise architects are expected to play multiple roles such as having the knowledge as an enterprise strategic advisor, but can also coach and provide advice on business architecture, information architecture, application architecture, technology architecture, implementation and governance. In larger organizations, their focus is strictly on being the strategic advisor, architecture leader, and planner through facilitating a group of knowledge specialists for enterprise wide initiatives.
So how does a technology like SAP affect the role of the Enterprise Architect?
My perspective is that if an organization owns SAP, then it is a strategic asset. The company, no matter what size, has made a considerable investment on the software and should be considered as such. If it were a generation unit in the utilities industry or a well for Oil & Gas, the organization would do as much as possible to “Sweat the Asset”. To make sure to consider utilizing an existing asset to the fullest degree before purchasing a new one or replacing the existing asset.
This is true for SAP as well…Which would mean that the Enterprise Architect should “consider” existing SAP assets before making a recommendation to procure any new software. This is especially true in our current economy. Now in small to mid-market organizations that means that the Enterprise Architect may need to understand some of the key capabilities of the SAP software portfolio they own, where as in larger organizations they will facilitate a group of SAP knowledge specialists to consider objectively the right product to meet the business objectives and strategies. Even in a small organization the latter approach might be considered best practice.
In the next few months on a bi-weekly basis I will give an overview on how one can develop a road map. Helping the business to consider technologies that can help their businesses as well as determining whether or not SAP can fulfill a business need and what technologies are required to do so.