The Chief Architect’s Biggest Three Strategy Secrets

Way too long since the last post – my bad.  Too much book!

Sounds like a pretty sales-y headline, doesn’t it?  Well – I’ve got you reading and that was my intention.  It’s attention that you need to pay to your enterprise, your business or your organization.  Times are tough out there, and companies need you more than ever to demonstrate value, but also to roll up your sleeves and help to keep your company afloat.

There aren’t great job descriptions out there for Chief Architect’s.  To some companies, it’s head architect, top “smart guy/gal”, or even lead IT thinker.  You may be responsible for a very structured and detailed program, or you’ve been saddled with figuring out exactly what your job is.

Let me start by letting you in on three very important secrets that should be on your job description.  1. Risk.  2.  Risk   3.  Risk.

What do I mean?  Beyond everything else, you need to be your CIO’s eyes and ears when it comes to technology risk management from a really big picture perspective.  2009 is my year to focus on Perspective and the concept of dialing in and out on auto-focus as an architect.  The chief architect may be heads down in putting together an EA Program, Plan or Road map, but day to day work must be on their mind.

At any given moment, place and with any person in which you communicate, you need to be aware of the three biggest risks with respect to architecture in your company.    You don’t need to do any real work to create this list.  When you start with your company, use a default three, and each time you learn of something that has higher risk, move it to your list.

For example – if you have just started working at your company, your top three risks are
1.    No Disaster Recovery Plan
2.    Major Hardware failure in the gear that runs your most critical customer serving application
3.    No risk management system

As you get to know and learn about the systems, technology and data in your organization, you will be able to replace these incredibly general risks with those that are more specific.  If you’ve been there for any period of time, you may not have this list posted anywhere, but you can probably derive it in about 90 seconds.

Obviously, you need to find out if there is a DRP and know what it’s all about first.  After that, find out from the highest ranking technology architect or engineer that you can find what they feel the biggest infrastructure risk is.  Something else you might want to consider is the new category of risks that is similar to those that everyone talked about when “pandemic” was the big buzz word”.   Two words – supplier solvency.  With layoffs and shutdowns, is your DRP supplier afloat?

Finally – learn what the organizations plans, systems and methods are towards managing risk.    If there isn’t a system, documentation, plan or program, that just became your number one task.  Talk to your CIO.  Discuss with the IT staff in your company.  Demonstrate value in Architecture in another dimension – AVOIDING risk as a strategy.  Know when risk is discussed, where it’s documented and what the next steps are to manage or remove the risk.

As the Chief Architect, you should be your CIO’s trusted advisor.  As their trusted advisor, you need to both protect them, as well as look forward to their future.  Any future plans must include the removal of risk as well as creating great plans for the opportunities that exist.

In my next posting, I’ll include the Big Three Secrets for planning and opportunities!

Happy Architecting

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