The Role of the Enterprise Architect


Who creates Enterprise Architectures? Architects! What is an architect? Someone who creates architectures! In truth, this is a fairly new discipline, and many organizations have just recently created the role of the architect.

A simplistic view of the role is that architects create architectures, and their responsibilities encompass all that is involved in doing so. This would include articulating the architectural vision, conceptualizing and experimenting with alternative architectural approaches, creating models and architecture specification documents or blueprints, and validating the architecture against requirements and assumptions.

However, any experienced architect knows that the role involves not just these technical activities, but others that are more political and strategic in nature on the one hand, and more like those of a consultant, on the other. A sound sense of business and technical strategy is required to envision the "right" architectural approach to the customer's problem set, given the business objectives of the architect's organization. Activities in this area include the creation of technology roadmaps, making assertions about technology directions and determining their consequences for the technical strategy and hence architectural approach.

Further, architectures are seldom embraced without considerable challenges from many fronts. The architect thus has to shed any distaste for what may be considered "organizational politics", and actively work to sell the architecture to its various stakeholders, communicating extensively and working networks of influence to ensure the ongoing success of the architecture.

But "buy-in" to the architecture vision is not enough either. Anyone involved in implementing the architecture needs to understand it. Since weighty architectural documents are notorious dust-gatherers, this involves creating and teaching tutorials and actively consulting on the application of the architecture, and being available to explain the rationale behind architectural choices and to make amendments to the architecture when justified.

Lastly, the architect must lead--the architecture team, the developer community, and, in its technical direction, the organization.


Bredemeyer, Dana. "James Madison and the Role of the Architect",, 1999.

Bredemeyer, Dana and Ruth Malan. The Role of the Architect (.pdf, 40kb), June Issue of the EWITA Newsletter

Lewis, R., Architect? A Candid Guide to the Profession. MIT Press, 1998. (Note: This book is about the building architect profession.)

Who?: The Architect, HP Software Architecture Web Site,

Malan, Ruth and Dana Bredemeyer, Architecture Teams, 

Rechtin, E. Systems Architecting: Creating and Building Complex Systems. Prentice-Hall, 1991. (Note: Ch. 14 is quite relevant to software architects.)

Copyright 2001 by Bredemeyer Consulting
Last Modified: June 11, 2001