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Solutions Architecture
What's the key focus of your enterprise architecture (EA) strategy?

Top Answer: Enterprise architecture (EA) must address any asymmetry of information. Many times our senior people are not getting visibility into certain projects and then they’ll say, “I didn't know, how come you didn't tell me this thing was happening? I would've given you some options.” A key goal for us is to at least provide transparency to give that visibility into what everything looks like, so that leadership can understand what’s happening. Even if it’s not 100%, they can start to see the state of technology organized by capabilities, and understand exposure or get visibility into running out of compliance with our architectural standards.

What do you think of connectors, or integration solutions?

Top Answer: There are all these software companies who are selling an API, a connector or data fabric, but then it turns out that there's a human building all those connectors, acting as the broker in between. Right now, there's a whole sales pipeline of people selling the ability to merge your solutions seamlessly, but all you end up doing is throwing human bodies at the problem. That's just the old school way of doing things.

Where should you start when building a digital business platform?

Top Answer: Talking with the Product Owner, reading thoroughly the product backlog & defining the product priorities to begin creating the architecture as well as the infrastructure needed for this digital business platform.

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What is enterprise architecture? Why should I care?

Top Answer: An enterprise architect's job is to create an environment that enables transparency and accountability with workflows. Enterprise architecture (EA) is an offering for different stakeholders, but the key aspect is that it’s the connective tissue between what the company is trying to do and how it will deliver. It’s not just about telling people what to do, it’s uncovering or creating a framework with the right tooling so that it is empowering. If the EA project is for my engineers, for example, they should be able to have developer velocity. The first thing I address when building that framework is the capability map: what are the capabilities the business comprises? Once you have that map, then you can think about drilling down and how you will connect those capabilities to your GTM or technology strategy. Then you can explore different dimensions as your architect provides maturity models — what is your functional or technical maturity? EA does provide some guardrails, whether those are established by strategy or otherwise. It’s important to determine the filters that will guide the business’s decisions: Is this something we should be building? Should we be buying a solution, or should we be partnering?

What are some best practices for enterprise architects (EAs)?

Top Answer: Treat enterprise architecture like a product and start with an MVP. If you’re starting out at a new organization it’s best to find one or two impactful value add projects to get started — laser focus on those rather than trying to solve multiple challenges. When you’re building out a capability map, don't try to be perfect and get everything right, because it will evolve. At our organization, we are doing a domain-centric model of the capability map. Instead of it being the law that dictates how the organization moves forward, it is a structure that enables extreme ownership and accountability no matter who owns it. Having metrics to measure that accountability is very important. If you can enable this framework as the EA, you can provide transparency and visibility.

What needs to change to make enterprise architecture (EA) more practical?

Top Answer: Enterprise architecture should be the framework and the guardrails — end of story. The problem is that there are a lot of organizations that don't see it that way. They think of architecture in pieces and it's not cohesive. The other extreme is when the architecture becomes so prescriptive that you have to do a lot of work for each little thing. Moving away from the term “enterprise architecture” could be helpful to some degree because there's so much mystique around it and history behind it. We just need a framework and guardrails to serve as the construct for everything we do. Then we can let people innovate within that.