Architect roles and responsibilities

The first part of preparing architecture directive discusses how to set up the architect's virtual organisation. This article gives you the details of functional and virtual roles played by architects, which will be the basis of the next chapter, the decision making mechanism.

Beyond the Domain and Enterprise Architect roles that was introduced before, here you will meat a new, the Lead Architect.

Lead Architect

We assume, that all changes happen on the architecture landscape is executing in projects. Lead architect is a virtual role played on project by project basis by Domain or Enterprise Architects; based on the Domain Architect's decision, the Lead Architect role can be further delegated to Application Expert. As part of the project team, the Lead Architect has the helping and supporting role within the project, sets the domain classification of new solution components, design and implement the solution architecture, leads the work of the involved Domain Architects and Application Experts. During the whole project lifecycle, the Lead Architect have to ensure the alignment between the implementation and the approved architecture design. The Lead Architect must participate also in the project related RFx processes in order to provide the strategic alignments between the project and the Target Architecture. The Lead Architect has the accountability for the quality of the fit-for-purpose materials of architecture related requirement specification, solution and architecture design documents as the "contract" between the project team and the sponsors. Lead Architect retains his/her responsibility during the whole project lifecycle to ensure the implementation executed according to the design documents. Latest at the go-live phase of the project execution, all of these documents should be added by the Lead Architect to the Architecture Knowledge Base - in ideal case the Knowledge base is kept up-to-date in daily basis as the design source of each changes.

Building a live architecture knowledge base

Depending on the scale of the project, Domain Architect can play the role of the Lead Architect if the delivery focus remains within a single specific domain. If more than one domain - belonging to the same organization’s management - is impacted, any resource having the necessary skillsets of the affected domains may be proposed by the Chief Enterprise Architect or even an Enterprise Architect should take the Lead Architect role. Complex projects/programs having inter-organization, cross-domain and/or diverse technology impact, Enterprise Architect shall play the Lead Architect role appointed by the Chief Enterprise Architect. There is one usual practice when the design is led by an Architect from the higher layer and delegation happens when the project turns to implementation phase. These case are when design is led by an Enterprise Architect he/she delegates the lead to a Domain Architect; the same when Domain Architect leads the design and delegates to an Application Expert for the implementation phase. Referring to the previous paragraph, delegation means as it should, that the responsibility retains on the original architect, delegation is resource optimisation only.

The Lead Architect assigned to project having new technology selection in-scope must notify the Architecture Governance Board about the selection process not already covered by a previously defined solution catalogue and must inform the Architecture Forum of the selection process (Architecture Governance Board, Architecture Forum will be described later together with the decision making mechanisms).

During the project's design phase, the Lead Architect shall involve other Domain Architects and/or Application Experts or subject matter experts if needed, even may decide to organize the Architecture Forum discussions to ensure technology alignment and optimal solution design/implementation. It is the responsibility of the Lead Architect to handle the strategy alignment with the architecture principles.

Domain Architect

We learnt from the Sun Tzu: The control of large force - in Architecture Management article, that in case of large organisations, the Enterprise Architecture should be splitted to smaller domains. Each domain has a single point of contact architect nominated by the owning organizations, responsible to support and coordinate the architecture related activities of the whole software develeopment lifecycle within his/her architecture domain. The Domain Architect is the "owner" of the applications belonging to the domain. “Owner” role covers the architecture related activities: roadmap preparation, function merges, opportunity identification of new capabilities, technology trend evaluations, etc. Anything, what is pushing the domain forward to deliver more business value to the company.

The Domain Architect must have deep technical knowledge of the represented services, applications or technology belonging to him/her; must have good understanding of the general principles of the Architecture Directive. It is the delegating organization's responsibility to find the proper balance between the knowledge and available resources.

Formally, the Domain Architect plays the role of the Lead Architect in all the projects impacting only the application within his/her domain as described above. Multi-domain developments, where more domain architects should support/contribute to the development process, the Lead Architect's role is usually fulfilled by an Enterprise Architect. 

Enterprise Architect

Enterprise Architect links the business mission, strategy, and processes of the company to the corporate strategy, ensures current and future needs of an organization to be met in an efficient, sustainable, agile, and adaptable manner, therefore the Enterprise Architect focuses more on building and implementing a holistic business, information and technology architecture of the while enterprise, rather than focusing on the detailed level of technical solutions. The Enterprise Architect works closely with the technology subject matter experts, Application experts, Domain Architects, other stakeholders and with the business to create the architecture vision and strategy, and keeps aligned implementation during the whole realization of projects. As part of the vision/strategic making and business consultancy, it is the responsibility of the Enterprise Architect always to play the role of the technology evangelist, bringing new ideas, advance existing ones and develop new strategy and business processes to solve project/program related challenges. The Enterprise Architect must be able to understand, cooperate and communicate with the business as part of the planning/design phases. The Enterprise Architect should focus on the business architecture/solution rather than the technology; therefore, it is a must to have in-depth knowledge of the company's business.

The Chief Enterprise Architect assigns Enterprise Architect to large scale, or complex projects to play the role of the Lead Architect in order to overlay the impacted architecture domains to provide the multi-domain and biased technology objectives implemented by the project/program or introduce new technology not yet known to the company. Large in this aspect means significant impact on the Enterprise Architecture independently of the cost level or the length of execution.

Chief Enterprise Architect

The Chief Enterprise Architect is an Enterprise Architect with the additional mandate to lead, coordinate, manage, supervise and schedule the activities associated to the virtual architecture team of the company, while serves as the operative lead of the Architecture Directive. Responsible to organize the Architecture Forum meetings, coordinate and steer the strategy preparation of the virtual architecture team, and creating or influencing structural and cultural changes. As the operational lead of the virtual architecture team, usually represents the architecture related initiatives on the management meetings and business events.

Business consultant

This role is mentioned between the lines, but should be highlighted since this "cap" of architects delivers incredible value to business. Participating in the business planning based on the in-depth techonlogy field knowledge and company business, architects can help designing business ideas, which will be simple to implement utilising the current capabilities or finding the way of smallest changes. This business consultant rule is a soft aspect of the enterprise architecture "ability to change" dimension while yet so critical!

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