Sharon Evans, Author
Sharon C. Evans is the Principal and Founder of Firefli Consulting Inc ., where she provides coaching and mentoring to enterprise architects and focuses on ensuring excellence and success in their professional development. Her consulting and advisory work centers on improving strategic impact, creating value, and obtaining fast results by using architecture in enterprises. Her mission is to see that architects do not spend too much time in the mire and circumstance of IT departments, remain focused on the big picture, and maintain their “Zoom Factor”.
Her career experience spans more than twenty-three years in information technology as an architect coach, mentor, chief architect, analyst, strategist, and consultant. She has worked with more than one hundred companies in various industries and the public sector. In 2003, Ms. Evans created a system known as the Architect Boot Camp, and she has delivered her simplified methods through this architecture- and methodology-related training to architects on six continents.
Ms. Evans has been a sought-out expert advisor on various online architecture forums, and she has several electronic newsletters and membership portals through which she shares architecture knowledge with her readers. An accomplished speaker, Ms. Evans is a frequent presenter and educator at various industry events, forums, conferences, and executive education and university programs.
Ms. Evans was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and has degrees in economics, computer science, and management from the University of Manitoba. She resides in Winnipeg with her husband and child. For more information about Ms. Evans, visit www.zoomfactorbook.com
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Interesting when you “trip” over a review of your work that you had no idea existed.
I was perusing the IASA site today and found a review that Tom Hope did on the book. There is no date on it, but I assume that it was done prior to the Webinar I did for this group in May of 2011.
Here is the entire review for your reading.
Hello EA’s & Potential Enterprise Architects,
One of the biggest questions I am asked, or more common anyways, is “How Do I Become an EA?” The answer is a little complicated, and so it deserves this video explanation. I speak about the Enterprise Architect Education or Enterprise Architecture Training you might take, I speak about the Enterprise Architect Role, as well as some of the activities that an Enterprise Architect may participate in. I also mention some of the considerations an Enterprise Architect may want to make before taking this role, and I talk about some of the biggest parts of your day as an EA. I mention the types of actions a new or potential enterprise architect might want to take before getting into the role, or the practice tasks they might enjoy as a “test drive”.
Well – enough about that – see the video
and if you have the ability to get to the Calgary area in the beginning of May, you might want to enrol in the Enterprise Architect Fundamentals workshop on May 8th & 9th.
Click here to get more details.
Enjoy and I look forward to reading your comments.
How to Start an Enterprise Architecture Program
Recently I’ve been asked this same question over and over again. If I were to create enterprise architecture office, what would be my first steps? This endeavor can be approached from several directions. I would say that the first thing that is required for a program is to find your supporters in the organization.
In order to get support while in your current architecture role inside your company, you must approach the CIO, or another business executive responsible for strategy. You are looking for support for this concept as well as financial backing and time to work on setting up the program.
You will need a strong liaison on the business side in order to support your project as well. Often this comes from a financial office, or potentially the strategic planners in your company. Once you have decided or found your supporter you can take your next steps in staffing the program.
If you are an architect inside the organization who did the initial approach to your supporter, you will want to set up your role as the leader, or find the person who should take that position. If you are the CIO looking for a way to start a program, it may be your job to find a brand new enterprise architect from outside or grow one internally.
Find the chief architect or director of architecture next is usually best way to start. Handing a new EA your program and your vision will not likely have as good as a result as if they were initially involved. Starting group without a leader will most likely leave the issue to become a program later on.
After you have identified the leader, you can determine what their high level vision would be for a company like yours. You will need to determine what your goal or objective of any EA program if. Do you have a burning issue inside your organization that is driving your need for an EA program? Do you have a large project is burning out of control begging for enterprise architecture leadership?
If you’ve got specific IT initiatives for several new business strategies, this may be all you need in order to set goals and objectives for your program. If you’ve got a runaway IT organization lacking in consistent standards in applications, or in dire need of a technology overhaul, this may be your anchor. If you are looking to gain leverage using technology in your business, this could also drive your EA program start.
At the end of the day you’re going to need some high-level vision to align your group with the results you wish to deliver. Be sure to include things like enterprise decision-making and governance, risk avoidance, standardization & optimization of your infrastructure, as well as consolidation of efforts. Decision-making by a central group on enterprise-wide technology is also increasing as one of the biggest reasons drivers behind the group.
You will need to determine how your program will do the work, and which team you will assemble. We’ll assume that you assemble some existing resources from an architecture position, or are you going to have to hire externally or from amongst others in your organization that have architecture background.
There’s several ways to do this, and requires more details than I can expand on in this post. At this point you need to have an understanding with your supporter as to how much of your time will be spent on this program and how much others time you can have to get allocated.
You’ll also need a rough outline of what your first steps shall be and I would suggest that you map out at least the next 6 to 12 months. Anybody who will support you will want to know what your plans are in which you plan to do with the team.
I have typically used a multipronged approach in that I want to target issues that were outstanding, as well as one or two new initiatives that are strongly linked to providing value to the organization as soon as possible. I will be adding some video in the next few weeks that outlines some quick wins for a new start up program, if you care to follow this thread.
Sharon C. Evans
a|EA Journal Book Review
I received a pretty cool note on Friday with a personal copy of the a|EA Journal. I can’t share the entire journal, but have clipped the review if you’d like to take a look at what others are saying.
Paul Kurchina wears many hats in the EA arena, and picked up multiple copies of the book in January at the Calgary Enterprise Architecture Forum.
- ASUG Chair Enterprise Architecture Community at SAP
- Advisor at OSIsoft
- Technology Strategist at KurMeta
- Volunteer ASUG Enterprise Architecture SIG at ASUG
So You Want to Be an Enterprise Architect?
Thinking about a career change? This article gives you five things to consider and some self discovery before taking the road on the role of the Enterprise Architect (EA). A more detailed account is available in my new book “Zoom Factor for the Enterprise Architect: How to Focus and Accelerate Your Career”.
First of all, are you qualified? What have you done to make you feel that you can take on this role? In my research for the book, I found that most successful architects have done at least three major things in their career before making the jump. They’ve been involved in a major enterprise project, a huge problem response team, or an innovative solution. EA’s are typically domain architects before becoming an EA – meaning they played roles as a solution architect, technical architect or infrastructure specialist, or a data architect. Strengths coming from the business side as a business architect or specialist in a strategic area in the enterprise, as well as roles in IT or Project Management may qualify you as well.
Your second checkbox should include your process and methods. How will you do the work? Do you have any experience in architectural process? Do you know any of the key methodologies involved in planning and considering solutions for the enterprise? An architect earns his or her stripes by using a process consistently when putting together plans for the organization. Decisions are methodically made, and prototypes are created either on paper or through models before they hit the budget sheets.
How about the third major criteria – your kit bag full of soft skills? Face it – every resume includes “I have good communication skills”. Really? Have you ever created a plan for telling an entire organization how you will leverage their business strategy with technology? Have you figured out how to succinctly review and document solutions being considered for prime time? Can you clearly articulate and document your vision using your voice and the written word. Do you know anything about architecture documents at all? Have you ever lead a team or participated in one? At what level? You are in the big leagues at the enterprise level and play politics with many different groups. Are you up for it?
Let’s hit the fourth consideration on my big five list (also covered in the book). Are you used to taking a step back and considering everything from multiple perspectives? If you are to be responsible for big decisions that align information technology plans with businesses strategy, you have to think in a different way. Just when you figured out that technology X will solve all of your companies’ problems, have you contemplated what it will do to the business strategy that was carved out last year? What about the relationships with your vendors and suppliers? How about all of the regulatory requirements your company faces each year – have you considered those? Are you used to measuring everything against the big picture while you are helping IT teams plot out some major details?
Finally – do you think and act strategically? You are the change master when you become the EA. What study have you made of change and its impact to people and organizations? How good are your planning skills? What have you ever done to learn about strategic planning? Is governance a buzz word, or do you really know how a governance program works and what the corporate executives want out of it?
If you want to be an Enterprise Architect, you’ve better plan your career like an architect plans a solution. You should think big picture and then figure out what your strategy should be and plot out the details. Why don’t you start by architecting your own career?
This is a pending post at the SAP User Network. If you liked it, see the events page and attend the upcoming webinar on the same topic.
KINDLE Zoom Factor for the Enterprise Architect is Coming Soon
First of all thank you to all who have been so kind to write comments and tell me how you’ve been enjoying the book and also to those expressing an interest in getting a kindle edition. I’ve been working at getting the edition to you as soon as I can. I have been travelling and trying to work with a few different methods of converting my source text to the correct format.
After several trials with conversion to ePub, MobiPocket and pure html, as well as searching for someone to do this for me quickly, I am having to use a combination and am getting close to having this in acceptable format. I wish I would have known how difficult this would have been as I would have saved kept up with updates to my pure text version before sending it off to my book designer who completely changed the formatting of my book text with special word “features”.
Enough rambling – back to getting that copy of KINDLE to you.
Thank you so much for your patience & happy architecting!
Author of Zoom Factor for the Enterprise Architect
Calgary Enterprise Architecture Forum Presentation
In January of 2011, the author Sharon Evans presented “Gaining Architecture Altitude” to a group of enterprise architects at their monthly forum meeting in Calgary.
This presentation begins with a minute of intro by Forum leader Phil Unger, and then gets into my talk and is followed by a bit of Q&A. Phil invited attendees to grab their signed copy of Zoom Factor for the Enterprise Architect at the short break between Sharon and the next speaker, Martin Masyk who then speaks about a Microsoft 2010 Upgrade. Take a peek at this good quality video recorded by Orbiweb.
If you take the time to watch, you’ll get a good idea of what is in the book, as well as some good content about your 2011 Career plan for yourself as an IT Architect.
Master the Architecture Process
Everyone who has been asked to perform as an architect thinks he or she has likely done some architecture before. But when it comes time to officially start, it is easy to draw a blank and be unsure of which step to take next.
Basic skills and abilities in the architecture process are those typically learned and nurtured through both education and experience. These basic techniques, processes, approaches, and methodology root themselves in best practices.
Depending on the type of architecture work you are doing, you will need to take one of various approaches. When companies initiate the architecture process, they create a vision for a specific outcome. Business drivers and context shape all architecture initiatives.
In this process, you will make decisions and create specifications to document the journey and details of the architecture’s development. You will take various perspectives from the conceptual through to the logical and physical, so that all who contribute have the details they need.
You will select and validate the architecture solution, and then the iteration cycle begins. As the process continues, you will refine the architecture until you deem it fit for transition to reality.
This is your first major stop on the journey as an architect. Getting this right is critical. When you get started, you absolutely need to know a few basic things about all architecture processes, and you may adjust them depending on your differentiators and situations.
Right now, you don’t need to decide now whether enterprise architecture is for you. Get the basics down, and the door will be open for you in the future.
When it comes to an architect’s skills and abilities in the area of process, some behavior patterns exhibit greatness. Excellent architects require a base knowledge of the process, the willingness to apply the appropriate amount of process to their work, and the ability to figure out what is appropriate.
These are excerpts taken from the book: Zoom Factor for the Enterprise Architect: How to Focus and Accelerate Your Career ISBN 978-0-9812609-0-7
Copenhagen, Denmark Enterprise Architecture Presentation
Here are the video presentations from the Gaining Architecture Altitude in Copenhagen, Denmark. These were pre-book launch videos taken during the EA|10 Enterprise Architecture 10 presentation. Before listening to these, you might check out the Calgary Enterprise Architecture Forum post, as the audio is better, and is professionally done. The content is not entirely the same, but many similar parts.
*** videos were removed *** still on YouTube, but better quality version is in the Calgary forum. If you are visiting YouTube – see http://www.youtube.com/user/fireflidotcom
- Part 1
- Part 2
- Part 3
- Part 4
- Part 5
Design Your Enterprise Architecture Career
In part two of this six part series, distinguish the need to set your foundation and choose your path in your career.
Designing a career for yourself should include mastering the most basic skills an EA has in his or her tool kit. Your company made you an architect—now what do you do? You are most likely to going to dive in and take whatever assignments are sent your way. In no time flat, you will have missed the opportunity to make this a great career by design. Time will fly by; projects and initiatives will come and go.
Other than your new job description and a list of generic education requirements, no clear qualifications for the IT architect exist. Some certification programs are improving their lists of skills and activities the architect will possess upon completion, but most programs are technology-, methodology-, or framework-specific and cannot be applied universally as a standard.
People who create their own success ensure they know what they need to do to succeed. What if you knew now which skills and knowledge you should focus on so as not to waste your time? What if you had the foresight to plan not only how you would gain this knowledge, but also to plot a journey in excellence for yourself and your career?
Make your ground floor rock solid and enjoy the ride!
Why must a great EA have a solid foundation in information technology?
- Possessing firsthand project experience in the trenches is key to understanding how all of the pieces fit together and the art of the possible.
- Proven, deep skills in one of the core domain architecture areas—business, data, solutions, and technology—are almost a prerequisite for excellence in enterprise architecture.
- Respect from your peers for your judgment, abilities, contributions, and teamwork goes a long way toward the leadership you will need to exhibit.
- Track record in superior quality solution creation, project development, and management gives you the depth and un-derstanding you’ll need to create viable architectures.
- Practical understanding of many facets of your industry and the methodologies and processes used in the various technology and business domains allows you to be empathetic to the requirements and needs of all who will contribute and use the architecture.
Be sure to check out my next blog post to get the second step in designing your enterprise architecture career.
Plan to be an Excellent Enterprise Architect
The premise of this article is simple: I believe that there are five steps to building excellence as an Enterprise Architect. If you focus on those steps and build the first skills you need to accelerate your career in the most efficient way possible. Follow this precise order, and you’ll study this variety of distinct knowledge areas common to architects who possess traits of excellence. The architect who is centered in his or her learning endeavors may leap ahead of colleagues by learning only the most important information in a focused manner. Along the way, you will need to pause at decision points where you can decide whether a career as an architect is right for you.
This is a system for training the best EAs. It is not based on any curriculum you’ll find at any university. This system was born out of personal observations and experience in working with well over four hundred architects over a career span of nearly twenty-five years. I travelled many paths in information technology to gain this insight, and along the way, I had experiences with some of the most intriguing projects and people. From what I’ve observed, it seems that the architects who are able to get the attention of the business and provide the most value are those who seem to possess these similar characteristics and traits.
This book is a culmination of the mentoring, coaching, training, and consulting work I have done as an EA. Over the various projects I have had the joy of working on, people have raised many questions regarding the roles, teams, skills, and paths they should take to become an EA. Through training classes, assessment programs, as well as many articles and blog posts aimed to arm the architect with knowledge and effective decision-making tools, I decided I could sum this up into a career path and a description of the most common skills and abilities you need to possess to become a great EA. Follow me in this series of articles and I will divulge more about the steps you too may take to become excellent!