Sunday, August 18, 2013

EA as Coach: How to Instill its Value into Engineering Team

EA needs to play the role of engineers' coach, instill value into IT teams

Engineering teams are wary of Architects in general and quite often don’t see the point in doing Architecture. What were the key messages EA put across to the engineering team leads to winning them over?  How do you explain the concepts or how do you be engineers to accept/realize the benefits that can accrue for an EA? The key message is that EA can be used to "make it easier to do the right thing rather than making it harder to do the wrong thing" 

EA enforces communications within and cross IT-Business teams. EA practitioners can win credibility and get others on board if they are focusing their communication on the benefits it will bring to the engineering team, not to the EA practitioners. It is important for engineers to understand what is in it for them. If they get more value out of it than the effort they put into it, you will win them over! The information has two components, 'know' and 'flow'. 'Know' has three things: intelligence, knowledge, and strategy;  'Flow' is just one thing: communication (in the sense of movement of information within or between organizations). EA practices can enable the engineering team to capture “know from flow,” transform knowledge into intelligence; leverage strategic thinking in IT projects.
  • EA unifies vision and influence decisions at all levels of organization: When this vision is fractured the communication is broken and the value of EA is one of the key elements at multiple levels inside the Organization. In this scenario, the mission of EA is to recognize the cracks in the vision and seal them. The abilities to communicate value (of EA) inside a unified vision and influence decisions at all levels in the organization are critical for EA sustainability. 
  • EA provides holistic enterprise views for the engineering team to see “big picture”: Engineers are not so good at is developing an enterprise view, only focus on solving the immediate problem, but giving absolutely no attention to all the problems that generate for others, as engineering teams have a scope and context to their work that is often at a more granular level than EA operates... How do you explain the value of EA to engineering teams? Within the context of a unified vision, communicate the roles and responsibilities of the EA. Engineering staff are necessarily focused on one narrow aspect of the business, they are very nimble minded people who can easily grasp the bigger picture, once it is explained. EA helps the engineering team to oversight something usually they may not get the change to oversight, to see enterprise as holism, with a sense of "ownership" thinking, to optimize project cost, and be more collaborative with cross-functional practices. 
  • EA trains engineering team to speak “multi-dialects” in business. The EA role can translate 'the One's What to the Next's How', and thus provides an unbroken chain of purpose and alignment through the organization to enhance effective communication cross-business and engineering teams. As some engineers are not so good at communicating in business or architect language or set priority at understanding the enterprise landscape and ensuring they are solving the right problems. EA provides that context and sense of cohesive purpose to the change the engineers need to deliver.
  • EA breaks silos to engage more people on board. People represent different parts of the IT, Finance and IT organization. EA can be in the driving seat to break the silos between the different parts of the organization that are involved in the management of individual IT portfolios. These portfolios (for example the application portfolio, technology portfolio, demand-portfolio, risk, finance, etc) are managed in the silo and each silo has its own tools, their own methodologies, their own frameworks, their own people, etc. To get the EA wheel running at a speed to maximize the value, organizations need to break these silos which EA can bring the difference. 
  • EA instills long term focus for the engineering team. The engineering team may provide good work; the architect role is there to ensure that the output will provide a long term solution.  EA can also persuade the engineering team via its tactical value. Architecture usually leads to engineering, however, in the absence of architecture software, hardware and infrastructure engineers have had to do everything themselves. EA might be seen as a negative because it’s going to take away that freedom. But EA activities can well connect multiple business disciplines to ensure business wholeness a) Engineering (architect/design/build/operate); b) Accounting (fund/resource/cost/benefit); c) Biological (replication/DNA/emergence/organic) 
  • EA provides a systemic approach for resource optimization or re-usability leverage: EA training can help the engineering team to rethink project design at a higher level of understanding to leverage reusability and resource optimization. Within the organization, which is defined as its people, processes, and technology, there are three approaches to optimization: Accounting, Management, and Architecture. Each operates in the same space with a different focus: The Accounting focus is on accountability - Governance, Return on Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The Management focus is on the process - Organizational services. The Architecture focus is on structure - Organizational capabilities. Running IT projects via these approaches can ensure business doing the right things and doing things right, and also create an effective process to manage the processes. 
EA needs to play the role of engineers' coach, instill value into IT teams, as EA is the bridge to mind strategy and execution, also a glue between business and IT. 


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