Part II – 3 More Tips to Develop Your EA Career

27 09 2010

In my last Blog we talked about some of the things to do if you are just starting your career. What if you have “Been there done that” and are still not where you desire to be from an architecture perspective.

I sat down today with a team of developers, a data modeller, business analysts, governance specialist, project manager, and an EIM architect and it gave me even a better perspective of what an Enterprise Architect needs to be capable of…

1. Presentation skills – This has probably been my best skill that one manager coached me perform. She actually asked me to start by presenting 5 presentations in one year on various topics. Each quarter she followed up to see how I was doing, and after a year I had 7 presentations under my belt. Give yourself a similar goal and do it each year adding more and more presentations to the goal. In 3-5 years your will end up being a very competent and effective speaker helping to develop your leadership skills.

2. Always Offer – The best people I have worked for always ask “Is there anything I can do to help?”. You will always know those who require help and when you help them, it will stretch you, but will also broaden your skills and understanding. He who helps one’s neighbor helps one’s self.- Seneca

3. Objective Facilitation Skills – As an Enterprise Architect you are expected to look from the outside in. This means landing on a collaborative decision which is a governed by what’s best for the organization. A simple program specific example might be a data modeler having goals in developing a strategic data model, the developers wanting to focus on what they need, the governance specialist is looking to develop internal governance, the project manager focused on budget, quality, and time, the business analysts want the business to support their need for requirements, and the EIM architect wants a robust EIM architecture while trying to influence future strategies. There are a lot of tactical and strategic goals all wrapped up in this single example. The ability to objectively facilitate meetings to land on practical goals takes a few years to become effective in doing, however work on it informally with a few until you get better and better at it. Always keep others and the organization in mind. What would you do if it were your business. Next thing you know you will be facilitating executives.

4. Bonus Tip: Go Talk to People – The majority of people love to share their knowledge or give advice. 10 years back, my boss said “Go and ask the CEO.” My reply was “Are you out of your mind?”. He said “You need his perspective and if he doesn’t have time, then no worries, what do you have to lose?” So I invited him to a 1:1 meeting and he accepted and the result was completely encouraging and changed my perspective in speaking to executives. They’re just people.

You might notice that these tips are purely soft skills and not technical nor business related. That is because anyone can learn and teach themselves the technical and business skills, however not many can develop the required soft skills to converse with executives, facilitate meetings (business and technical), while speaking to an infrastructure specialist or developer in his technical language.

I have a ton of tips which I will continue to share.

More questions? Send me a note or give me a call.


The Path of Least Resistance

31 01 2010

…to a high quick-to-value EA Practice.

This past week I attended a local PMI dinner meeting where a friend of mine was speaking on the evolution of Project Management, Business Architecture, and Service Management in the IT Organization. Listening to his presentation which was very well articulated, seemed to be amazingly aligned to pet project over the past couple of weeks.

The internal project is to develop a new strategic vision of what the end result of the enterprise architecture process and outputs might look like. In doing so, the process has been to consider what other frameworks and body of knowledge(BOK) might add to the process and artifacts, which include frameworks like TOGAF, Zachman, PEAF, ITIL and body of knowledge like PMBOK, BABOK, and EABOK. By being open minded and embracing different EA Frameworks, standards, and certifications can produce a high quick-to-value EA practice based on a path of least resistance.

For instance, consider the TOGAF Framework phases A (Architecture Vision) and B (Business Architecture). These could easily embrace the BABOK approaches and outputs from business strategy and architecture reports, market studies, organizational structures, goals, functions, product lines, feasibility studies, impact and risk analysis, business cases, and project scope just to name a few. Many Business Analysts, are now seeking certification as Business Analysts from organizations such as the International Institute of Business Analysis.

Another example are the TOGAF phases B (Business Architecture), E (Opportunities and solutions), F (Migration Planning), G (Implementation Governance) which might embrace the PMBOK since many of these include developing business strategies, business cases, project scope, implementation/migration strategies and schedules, as well as implementation schedules. Now in many cases Project Managers might end up being the business analysts/architects but in any case they have been performng these services for quite some time.

Finally TOGAF phases A-G could include the ITIL service management framework which many people are seeking certification in and is a very hot skill and practice. Understanding the importance of business processes and how they might impact business results, or how technology might impact business processes and results is all contained within service management. How information, applications, and technology solution options are architected also impact the organizations service management and applicable business cases. Including these as part of an organizations delivery teams is key to maximizing an organizations return while minimizing risk in business process services.

There are many options to introducing EA to your organization. It might be starting to understand what skills your organization already has, embrace and integrate into those skills and resources. Imagine using certified business analysts or supporting another manager in certifying his business analysts, consider the same for project managers and service management professionals. By embracing an EA framework(s) and understanding your organizations current state  may result  in an easier method to get a high value added EA practice up and going.

Darin Paton been a member of a structured enterprise architecture(EA) team since 1998-2007 and as a consultant in many Western Canadian organizations observing different maturity levels. Darin has lead Enterprise Architecture teams, provided implementation and operational leadership, and has delivered high-value business margins and IT cost savings throughout his IT career.

Best Regards,

Darin Paton

Cornerstone Consulting Inc.

Specializing in EA, Strategic IT, & Enabling Technologies

M: +1 403.472.7744

E: dpaton

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