Modern businesses have to deal with increasingly complex demands that challenge the ability to adapt, standardize, and reduce costs. The significant growth of enterprise architects (EAs) is a way for businesses to meet these demands, but it is also a potential source of overlap between the role of EAs and Business Analysts (BAs), who often assume coinciding roles and take on similar responsibilities. In this article, we clarify the role of enterprise architects and explain how BAs and EAs can effectively work together.
Enterprise Architecture Explained
An enterprise architecture answers the question of how can an organization or business most effectively achieve current and future objectives. To answer this question, enterprise architecture often assumes four different points of view, as described by Michael Platt from Microsoft. These views include the business perspective, the application perspective, the information perspective, and the technology perspective.
By holistically defining the structure and operation of an organization, an enterprise architecture helps the organization make better decisions, adapt to changing demands, eliminate inefficiencies, and minimize employee turnover, among many other benefits.
The Enterprise Architect Role
The role of an enterprise architect is complicated and dynamic because they must keep track of IT demands and business demands. According to Mike Walker in his article titled, A Day in the life of an Enterprise Architect, “Through the work performed on strategic initiatives, EAs strive to make alignment between IT and the business more transparent”. They investigate how the alignment between the business strategy, processes and IT strategy can be achieved. They aim to deliver an architecture that supports an efficient and secure IT environment.
An EA has to perform a large-scale program oversight, monitor technology life cycles and determine how individual technologies will evolve over time in regards to the company’s demands, and make other multi-domain architecture decisions.
As such, every EA must have a wide range of skills, including an in-depth knowledge of technology, business, the ability to think in terms of processes, and the ability to interact with people operating at all levels of the organization.
BAs and EAs Working Together
According to the International Institute of Business Analysis, “A business analyst works as a liaison among stakeholders in order to elicit, analyze, communicate and validate requirements for changes to business processes, policies and information systems.” In other words, BAs work hand in hand with clients, helping them analyze the business needs and propose actionable solutions. They understand business problems and can identify opportunities that help the organization to achieve its goals.
As such, their role is more specialized than the role of an enterprise architect. Their specialized skillset is a tremendously valuable asset to EAs, who have to focus on the larger picture and consider the needs of the business from all angles. The EA and BA roles should be organized to work closely together. This is particularly important when:
- The BA lacks the technical skills needed to produce models that require knowledge of the technical architecture.
- A long-term view of strategic IT plans is needed in order to fully address business requirements. For example, requirements and system designs should be done with the aim of achieving minimal integration costs and re-use of components, an objective that is best achieved with knowledge of the Enterprise Architecture.
By placing BAs and EAs in close contact and allowing them to cooperate with one another, organizations can maximize the benefits of having these roles, dramatically improving their efficiency and long-term strategic planning.
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