As 2009 brings dramatic change to the economy, politics, and IT, some consistency might be in order. So, as I have in past years, I’m making suggestions for New Year’s resolutions for enterprise architects.
Execute on Your Roadmap
Architecture takes a long time to develop and deliver. There’s a bewildering array of models, processes, options, priorities, and skills needed to achieve enterprise goals. Of course, this cannot be delivered all at once but needs to be phased in over time. How do we know what to do when? First, we need to have a vision of our architectural end state (the point at which enterprise IT is in alignment with both business and technology goals and strategy). Then, we try to understand the dependencies between things, identify current skill sets and training needs, and make a plan to get there. A key aspect to the plan is to look for opportunities to apply architecture to actual projects. We use an architecture roadmap to identify the key things we want to achieve this year, the projects we will try to align with, the types of deliverables we will produce, the training we will make time for, and so on. I try to be fairly detailed for year one but only specify broad goals and deliverables for years 2-n. Then, at the end of each year, I reevaluate the roadmap in terms of lessons learned, current goals and strategies, new priorities, resources, and new dependencies, and come up with a roadmap for the next year. So, if you have a roadmap, perhaps you should think about updating it. If not, you should think about creating one.
Participate in a Community of Interest
The profession of architecture continues to grow and broaden. Many new people are being asked to perform the functions of an architect but often without the requisite skills or resources. Increasingly, people are looking for certifications and guidance. Some believe that a four-day certification course is all you need … hah! Fortunately, there are plenty of architects who are interested in advancing the general field through collaborative organizations. Some examples are the Business Architecture Working Group at the Object Management Group, Business Architecture Society, The Open Group, International Association of Software Architects (IASA), Center for the Advancement of the Enterprise Architecture Profession, and more. Join one of these organizations to learn, guide, and help form the requirements for an architecture professional.
Become Web 2.0 Enabled
As architects, we need to be on top of new and emerging technology, and to practice what we preach. There are many useful, real, and practical Web 2.0 technologies that we can use today to do our jobs better. Whether it’s spaces, blogs, wikis, collaboration environments, or IMs, your kids are probably already using them. These technologies help us to collaborate better with colleagues, foster information exchange, organize communities, and so on. Pick one or two that you’re not using yet, and start. Then, figure out how or if it fits into your enterprise. You can be sure someone there will be trying to use it, so be prepared and ahead of the game.
Read a Good Book
OK, you probably already read plenty of things online to keep up with what’s happening. But there is a lot to be said for the in-depth analysis that can be achieved from reading a good book. There is no shortage of books, so ask your colleagues what they have read recently that they liked. Check out some of the lists available on architecture Web sites or on Amazon.com. I’ll be reviewing a selection of architecture books throughout the year. Pick a book or two that will expand your breadth as an architect in a new area of interest or that will support current project requirements.
Continually Deliver Value
EA is constantly under pressure to show results, and the current economic realities are going to make it all the more important. Use the economy to help identify opportunities where an architectural approach would provide value and then target architectural efforts toward specific projects. For example, a merger is expected to achieve savings through consolidation and economies of scale. But what should you keep? What can you consolidate? How will this affect business goals and strategy? What will be the technology implications and costs? These are critical questions that the business must answer and with which architecture is perfectly poised to help. Make sure that the priorities and deliverables of what you’re working on will deliver value this year.
Well, that’s enough for 2009. Of course, you don’t need to make these official resolutions, but hopefully there’s some useful food for thought here about being an architect.