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A short story about IT Enterprise Architects

No dubs, in daily complexity of the World, many new jobs and positons are invented, this is absolutely a good point and nice perspective because the job market became dynamic instead to be static, I am not just talking about changing content of positon, I am talking about totally new roles necessary to follow a World in continuous change.

An example? I was just thinking when it was last time I published an advertisement on NEWSPAPER….I know, I know for young recruiters this is something then cannot handle, but I belong to that generation of recruiter which at least one in the life did it. It was in the year 2002-2003 on GazetaPraca (no, not .PL, the real paper made) I remember struggling with advertisement, in order to keep it into a limited number of words, choosing size, page in relation with the budget, calling the Warsaw office of Gazeta Wyborcza to verify if they still have place for our advertisement, if not…you have to wait 1 week more. Incredible? Real, believe me. Sure some of seasoned recruiter, can remember as well this World….

But this is not the topic of my post, today I want to talk about the IT market as I see there is quite a lot of confusion when I talk with my recruiter’s colleagues about IT Enterprise Architects attitude.

 First of all, who are those people? Well, EA are often prescribed as a solution professional, implementing cutting-edge technologies and practices while keeping operations streamlined. The true is that the current talent war for IT has made finding the best Enterprise Architect highly difficult.

With the talent scarcity, jumping at any candidate may be tempting but is ultimately unwise. “Good enough” rarely describes the right Enterprise Architect because they will be road mapping the company’s technology investments for the next 3 to 5 years.

If you ask to CTO about qualities he/she will surely answer that an effective Enterprise Architect will boast a deliberate, panoramic view of a former employer’s business that accounts for micro and macro level strategies. The perfect candidate will have taken the time to evaluate the organization from that 10,000 feet view. He or she can point to redundant processes and technologies in different silos (i.e. utilizing competing technologies tools for different business units)

Definitely, the best Enterprise Architects will get hands-on in the trenches, helping and mentoring teams to earn the little victories that drive the EA to the big picture. Surely there are key perspective questions to ask the Enterprise Architect during the interview:

Which of your enterprise level strategies changed client’s business for the better?

What are the measureable results? Do you consider yourself a hands-on Architect?

I could present here many of these questions, but in my opinion there are other important traits of outstanding EA, here you can read about my experience.

Leadership mind-set: frankly speaking if Senior enterprise architects worry their staff, are poor leaders. In a world of uncertainty, architects need to be able to make decisions, sometimes based on incomplete information, and then champion those decisions with their teams and external stakeholders.

I suggest, when evaluating candidates, look for an ability to lead teams, and make sure that the candidate’s leadership style matches organizational culture, this is something unique, as similar business hold on complete different internal organization culture.

Second trait that is ‘must’ is adaptability: all we know business priorities are constantly in flux; business’s strategy has changed frequently in the past couple of years. But many EA groups report that they struggle to react to these changes. To avoid being left behind, EA needs architects who can quickly adjust and adapt to new, different, and changing circumstances. Seems easy? Believe me, is not.

Third point is the ability to understand the Governance. As you know, IT processes are fused with modern and complex operations. Since IT is the nervous system of the industry, governance needs to be precise. This is the bread and butter of effective Enterprise Architecture. Any deficiencies that a candidate might have will ultimately poison the work environment: governance is part of the gold standard by which the best Enterprise Architects’ effectiveness is measured.

Last but not the least is the Persuasive communication: Enterprise Architects MUST be good salespeople at their core. The best Enterprise Architects speaks to their audience (internal and external clients) with a clear, persuasive style. If a stakeholder needs blunt facts to decide, they can lay all the cards on the table. If a stakeholder needs a delicate approach, the Enterprise Architect can subtly speak to critical pain points tactfully. Wow, all in all, at the end of the day, does EA a technician or something else? I am still learning about that….

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