IT Architecture and Business – Part II

In my last article (Part I), I discussed at a high level the impact IT Architects can have on your business. In this second article, I want to focus a bit more on the significant opportunities that are available to small and medium sized businesses, and why architects can be of benefit.

There are many types of Architects and varying wildly in experience and knowledge. The following list will give you a flavour of the different areas of IT Hobe Sounds architects:-

So as a small business who should you engage? As you might expect, the answer is not straightforward as many of the above architects will have many particular specialisms – will they have the well rounded skills to make a difference. Enterprise Architects (EA), in my opinion does or should fit into that category. An EA should be able to interface between the business and technical side.

Now, you’ve decided that IT architecture can benefit your business and you want to speak to an architect. Well that is easy, there are any number of organisations who can do Enterprise Architecture – many of them will be large global corporations. Will they be truly independent? That is an interesting question – an EA will only have so much breadth of knowledge and experience and at some point along the architectural path he will need to liaise with specialists. Large organisations will tend to have their ‘favourite‘ and/or standard technologies that they will persuade you to move to – at your own cost of course. They’ll give all the convincing reasons why they are the best, and in some cases, it would not be wrong.

As you can see – architecture is a very precarious occupation which in the grand scheme of IT lifetime is a discipline in its infancy. Ask any number of architects an opinion on a IT business solution, chances are you will get different answers.

What are the alternatives? Small independent consultancies could be a good fit, provided that they have the breadth of knowledge and technical expertise to provide a solution that is fit for your business. The starting point for any engagement would be to understand the business and where the entrepreneur sees it heading. Once this is understood, a thorough requirements gathering phase need to be planned and documented clearly. This is quite often the most difficult aspects of the engagement as it needs to communicate with the different areas of the business and fully engaging with the owner’s business vision – There will be conflicts in terms of wants with the reality of the budget. It’s a balancing act, where the Enterprise Architecture strategy path can begin with requirements that are ruthlessly prioritized.

Finally, if the entrepreneur decides on leveraging the architectural skillset, think carefully, very carefully about the budget you set aside and then maybe double it. Make sure the budget is there to see your enterprise through this journey and your business firmly positioned in its next stage of embryonic growth.

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