Where do architects spend their time, and is this where they should be spending it? I participated in a webinar this week hosted by Architecture & Governance magazine, along with George Paras. We discussed ‘the state of EA in 2010’ and the transformation of EA from a technology focus to a business focus. During this webinar, I showed this data from Forrester’s annual State of EA survey. Blog image

The attendees had several questions followed as to what this data shows.  It’s pretty clear that the segments on the right side of this chart: ‘addressing the near-term needs of application delivery projects’, ‘addressing near-term needs of infrastructure and data center teams’ and ‘running or participating in EA governance processes, such as project review’ – are the typical mainstream activities of architects.  In fact, it’s somewhat surprising that this seems to be only about 50% of architects’ time.

The activities on the left side of this chart could be viewed as signs that EA is becoming more strategically- and business-focused – and so providing more value and having a greater impact within their firms.  But there is ambiguity about some of the response categories.  Collaborating with the business is good – but as part of an application project team or to develop a business-technology strategy?  EA teams should be developing strategic future application or technology plans – but are these oriented towards narrow technology standards, or are they targeted towards CIO-level and business strategy?  It’s good that 11% of EA’s time is supporting enterprise planning and budgeting processes – but then other surveys suggest that architects are often not involve with PPM processes before project approval gate.

EA teams’ key assets are their knowledge and their time.  So, although the data is ambiguous, the questions are important.  While Forrester won’t tell architect teams how to allocate their time – we do say they need to reserve significant time for working with business strategy and joint-business and IT planning.  And they should treat this as their most ‘high value’ time.  Where are you spending your time?  What’s driving this allocation?  Do you think architects are effectively balancing tactical and strategic focus?