An old friend called me up today and shared a tale of woe.  He is a Business Architect, with years of excellent experience in Enterprise Architecture.  Yet, he finds himself in an ill-fitting role. 

According to my friend, who I will call Quincy, his manager doesn’t know what he does, and doesn’t value business architecture.  He has many peers, all of them share his title, all reporting to different managers, but according to Quincy, few of them are able to perform the job of Business Architect.   When it comes time for a review, he feels like there is no career path for him, and no consistent measure of value that he will be judged by.  Quincy feels unappreciated and alone.

I did my best to cheer Quincy up.  But in the end, he’s right.  It is tough to feel like your work is appreciated if your manager doesn’t understand it. 

Business architecture is not a trivial job function.  It is not something that the average business analyst can wake up one day and perform, or pick up with a two-day training course.  Business architecture, like any of the functions of Enterprise Architecture, requires specific skills, talents, and experience in order to deliver real value.  Like any profession, it takes time, training, mentoring, passion, and talent to develop into a high-functioning business architect.

Don’t get me wrong: people learn, and a well motivated person can grow into a well seasoned business architect in the right environment.  The job is tough, but not impossible.

Quincy can do the job… but he needs to feel supported, to provide value that is recognized by his superiors, and to have the ability to grow in his role.  This is a problem that many enterprise architects face when they are the only person in the organization with the title of “architect.”  They are alone, and ultimately, the machine of corporate life can wear them down. 

Over time, an architect, working alone, will take on other functions (like M&A integration, project management or even solution architecture) because those functions are both understood and appreciated.  The job title of “Business Architect” will lose relevance, and after a while, BA activity will end.

And this is why I believe that all of the folks in an organization that are responsible for any aspect of Enterprise Architecture, whether it is Business Architecture, Solution Architecture, Technology Architecture, Information Architecture or Process Architecture, should work for a small number of carefully chosen managers… people who understand the job that they do and the value that they provide. 

Sometimes those managers are in IT, sometimes they are in Finance, sometimes Operations, etc.  Wherever the right managers and support exist, EA should live there, even if it is not “ideal”. 

Otherwise, your architect is alone… and job satisfaction can suffer.  Just ask Quincy.