A reader asks:
I have been a developer, and from there moved to doing business analysis. I would call myself a Business Systems Analyst, and love that role. Is becoming an Architect a suitable progression from a BA? I have moved from development to doing business analysis. So, I do understand technology quite well so I was more thinking on the lines of Solution Architect/Enterprise Architect. But does that mean you have to be in the technical stream? Also, at what level does business architect come in? Is it higher or lower than Solution Architect?
I do see business analysts with strong technical backgrounds moving into solutions architect roles and I think this can be a great career path for the right person. If you like technology enough to keep up with the latest platforms, tools, and technologies, then solution architect could be a good career path choice. Often we also see strong developers with a big picture mindset and strong people or “soft” skills moving right into these roles, so there are many paths to solution/enterprise architecture.
In full disclosure, my husband is what I would consider an enterprise or solution architect and I often joke with him that he’s doing some business analysis. I’ll hear him on client calls talking about business process, business goals, and suggesting high-level technical solutions, and I’ll be like, “Ah! He needs a BA!”
And while I (as a Business Analyst) could have these initial conversations, I do not have the deep technical background to jump right into suggesting solutions and solving problems immediately following a phone call. It’s a highly valued competency within the business community where decisions need to be made fast. This means it can be much easier to have one person you can talk to and get a solution from rather than the more iterative process of a BA/Developer combo.
But I digress…
Yes, I do think a solutions architect role tends to be in the technical stream a bit. The professionals who are successful in these roles can strongly influence a development team. You will have developers challenging your decisions and you will need to be able to talk their talk, write code to create prototypes, and wrestle with thorny issues. I don’t think one can be a great solution architect in the abstract.
And, as to the relative hierarchy of business architect and solution architect, it will depend on the company and how the roles are defined. Solution architect is the more common role today, but business architect might be more likely to have direct executive exposure and I believe it will grow over time. Since these titles can be used for various types of roles, it will depend on how the roles are defined and what the company values. For example, a high tech company might value a solution architect more highly because their competitive advantage is in the solution, while a growing business might value a business architect more because their competitive advantage will be derived from organizing the business to scale.
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