How Do We Find and Recruit Great Business Architects?
By Betsy Burton
The good news is that over the past 5-8 years, the number of people with the title of “Business Architect” has boomed. In addition, there are people in several adjoining roles that can make excellent business architects.
The challenge is finding the right resources that can help support your business, culture, maturity, and strategic vision.
What Makes a Great Business Architect?
Business Architect is a person whose role is to help the organization articulate their future business model, capabilities, processes, investments, skills, and more needed to support their business strategy. But there are a few characteristics that make great business architects, including:
- Great business architects adeptly balance the need to support future-state strategic priorities with immediate operational and opportunistic demands of business and IT.
- Great business architects are also great listeners. They listen to the needs of executives, leaders, and users, and use their skills and deliverables to help guide investment decisions.
- Great business architects are innovative. They are always seeking out new ways to understand, collaborate and communicate investment impacts, needs and trade-off decisions. This may mean creating new types of deliverables or business models.
- Great business architects are leaders. They are not just waiting for management or executives to tell them what the future-state vision and strategy is. They are constantly exploring and guiding the future-state vision.
- Great business architects apply their authority and responsibility governance role with a positive carrot rather then a stick. People want to work with great business architects.
- Great business architects are motivated and inspired by people communication and collaboration. They may not deliver what everyone wants all the time, but they proactively work on engaging people, so they are helping to deliver balanced solutions.
In many respects, the skills that it takes to be a great business architect are natural leadership skills.
Recruiting Business Architects
There has been a strong focus over the past 10 years on ensuring that EA efforts are increasingly business value-driven and increasingly integrated with the business vision. As a result, there are a large number of people with the business architect role within organizations today.
However, it is important to really test the skills and competencies of any business architect you are recruiting. This is because many organizations have struggled to make their EA programs more strategic, which means some business architects have been relegated to more tactical project management-like roles.
Ensure any recruit is able to explain their impact on the future-state business strategy and explain what types of deliverables they created to help drive investment decisions.
To recruit a great business architect, you will need to demonstrate to them that they will have the ability, authority and support of management to help guide investment decisions.
Growing Business Architects
There are several roles that can be evolved or grown into a business architect role, including:
Business Strategic Planner: Business strategic planners are great at exploring and understanding the business strategy and future-state business models. They often already use many of the tools business architects use to communicate, such as business capability models, business model canvas, scenario thinking, etc. The skills which may be newer for them is collaborating across business areas and IT, focusing on guiding investment demands, and creating actionable deliverables.
Program Managers: Program managers, on the other hand, are great at working across the organization and at getting people to do what they need to get to done. This is because, like many business architects, they have little authority, but a lot of responsibility. The biggest challenge for them is to be strategic thinkers and balance the immediate demands with the demands of the future-state.
Business Relationship Managers: Like program managers, business relationship managers, are generally excellent at working across teams and levels of the organization, with little authority but lots of responsibility. The big challenge for business relationship managers is that their whole focus has been on responding to the immediate demands of their “customer” which may be business or IT. Their focus is not on the business future-state. However, I have met many BRMs that aspire to be more strategic, who could make a great business architect.
What About Program Managers or Process Managers?
There absolutely may be program managers or process managers that would make a great business architect. However, it is critical to note that the focus of most program managers and process managers is on the current-state of the business and evolving the current-state to the future-state. This is a fine perspective when trying to complete a specific task. However, doing business architecture requires a focus on future-state first. This is a very different strategic mind-set. Evolving a project manager or business process manager into a business architect would require specific training and education to get them to view their work through a future-state strategic view.
As I mentioned above, the good news is there are people you can both recruit and grow to be great business architects. In fact, many of the strongest business architecture teams I have seen, are highly diverse teams in terms of race, gender, experience, culture and styles.
Developing a team with people from different disciplines within the organization (business, IT, finance, HR, development) can create a positive level of engagement across the organization. In addition, recruiting people from different disciplines, and even related industries, can bring in new skills, ideas and innovation.
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