There's a lot of confusion and frustration over the role of enterprise architect within IT. If you don't believe me, just read the comments replying to "Enterprise Architects: Who Needs Them?" a May post about the backlash against EA.
But the real question isn't who needs enterprise architects, because the truth is, IT does need enterprise architects. One proof is the mess we're in today with integration.
The questions we should be asking are why is there a backlash and can it be fixed?
In "Enterprise Architecture is More than Engineering," Mike Rollings tackles these questions, taking a critical look at why enterprise architecture is failing. The truth is, there's blame to go around.
Neither organizations nor IT have embraced enterprise architecture. It's pretty darn hard to get people to follow your plan if they're not listening, and few architects have the authority to make them do so, as David Linthicum has pointed out.
Then again, people aren't going to follow a plan that ignores business needs and requirements, and given IT's poor success record with giving business users what they need, it's easy to see why they would distrust an IT person who's been promoted and retitled. EAs don't improve the situation when they develop plans in a vacuum without input from IT or business.
It doesn't take a flow chart to see there's a problem with this loop.
Rollings does the best job I've seen of outlining why enterprise architecture isn't working, but he also offers a list of recommendations for how EAs can fix it without resorting to what he terms "the governance trap of the enforcer" who tries to mandate use of architecture.
How can CIOs and EAs know when they're in trouble? Here are four questions, extrapolated from Rollings' six-page paper, to ask yourself:
If you answered yes to all of these questions -- good for you. You're either doing an amazing job with enterprise architecture or you're deluded. Maybe you should e-mail this post to a business leader for a second opinion just to be sure.
If you answered no to any of these questions, go straight to Rollings' white paper and read it. Do not pass Go and do not collect $200.
You'll want to hurry, though -- it's only available for free download to guests until June 23. You'll need to register as a guest, but after June 23, you'll need to be a paying Burton Group client to read it.
While you're on the site, you might also want to listen to this free podcast with Rollings discussing how the Burton Group defines EA.