This is a question I am pondering over recently, in the main because there seems to be a lake of understanding, or more to the point, a sense of misplaced expectation on IT and the roles of IT professionals. As an IT Architect I think the role I play is important, so here is my thoughts on the subject
An understanding of the technical domain
An IT Architect needs to have a deep understanding of the technical domain in which they work, and a good understanding of the adjacent and influential areas. As an example as I am a Workplace architect at the moment, understanding networks, storage, servers and the like helps ensure that I can do my role most effectively.
An understanding of the business wants and need.
Here I avoided the “r” word – requirements, because one persons work products becomes another persons requirements. I’ll deal with that in the next section.
What I am suggesting is that as part of any project understanding the business context, desired outcomes, and constraints is an imperative if what gets delivered at the end of the project is to help the business achieve their goals.
This is not as simple as it sounds, as the best way to do this is to converse with the end customer in their business language. A skill us folks in IT may not have and need to develop as we go along if we find ourselves lacking.
Translation of the business wants and needs into technical specifications
This is the core role of an IT Architect, specification from a set of requirements. There is a lot of material on this subject, however the way I look at this is to be the translator on behalf of your business customer – they may not be fully conversant in the IT Domain your in, so taking what they are asking and via functional and non-functional requirements, define the technical solution that you believe will fulfill the customers wants and needs.
That’s not where it ends, because you will undoubtedly hand off what you have done to one or more specialists to do a more detailed specification, so your work products become their requirements etc. You play a role in assisting these folks in finishing their work products and so on till it’s all defined and done.
Governance of the delivery of the project
Often overlooked there is a governance role to play – as you have an understanding of the desired business outcome, there will inevitably be decisions to make on which of some alternatives to make to achieve what is needed, by ensuring a focus on the business needs and an understanding of your technical domain, you can ensure, as best as possible, that the project delivers the best business outcomes possible.
The IT Architect is just one job role in IT, as equally important as any other in an enterprises IT ecosystem. Understanding the full breadth of this role and the interface an IT Architect has to the business to understand, translate and help delivery the business outcomes I hope will encourage many folks to try it out for themselves, we always need more of them.
Thanks for reading.