.. and not even my words, although I do think the IT architects community requires some regular, friendly bashing to keep it live and awake. For this occasion, I leave the honor to guest blogger and Capgemini colleague Mendel Koerts, who found out some interesting things when looking for ‘Sap Solution Architects’.
“Can’t say I didn’t have a good laugh while interviewing a number of IT Architects the other week! As it turns out, there are some quite unique characters that call themselves IT Architect. I am convinced they all have their own specific qualities – a few of the architects I saw during my quest did however did remind me of Austin Powers, the Nutty Professor or even captain Haddock. If I didn’t know better, I’d just as easily describe them using Obelix’s famous words: “These IT architects are crazy!” Now why was it so hard to find the right caliber of people?
Let me first clarify what I was looking for, to avoid any confusion. I wanted to find people for my IT Solution Architecture team. This team forms part of an extensive, global business transformation program and it comprises a significant amount of work related to packaged solutions, mainly SAP. I feel what made my search difficult was, that there is no de facto standard for the SAP-knowledgeable IT Solution Architect or, shorter, the SAP Solution Architect role.
Let’s take one step back and first describe -as practically and simply as I can- the two types of IT Architects you can typically find within larger organizations. Enabling the business to reach their goals requires a solid long term vision on the correct and efficient use of your IT capability, captured for instance in a blueprint. In this process, Enterprise (IT) Architects play an important role. This kind of IT Architects I was not looking for, since the transformation program I am working on already kicked off.

Experience learns that the profundity of the architectural design or blueprint at the start of a project or program varies between organizations and even between programs or projects. This is where the IT project architect or IT Solution Architect comes into play. Or at least, that is the categorization I found in the various multinationals I’ve had the honor to work for over the past years. And an organization such as SAP equally distinguishes between Enterprise Architects and Solution Architects, as shows from, for instance, the SAP Enterprise Architecture Framework (SAP EAF).
The role includes being responsible for determining alternative IT solutions and to bring those to the right level of detail. And when I say IT, I mean the digital world in its complete magnitude. Should you be looking for guidelines around the determination of this level of detail by the way, check the e-book called ‘ArchitectedERP’. There is a great number of angles from which Solution Architects should (work with someone to) look into solution alternatives. Think of security, sustainability, the end user experience or usability, functionality, re-usability, necessary environments for designing, building, testing, running and managing the new solution and of course, to finish off with, the physical infrastructure including networks and telecoms. The IT Solution Architect ensures and stimulates that decisions concerning vital parts of the IT solution are taken by those concerned.
Clearly, such a role requires an enormous amount of knowledge and experience, let alone competences. Luckily for me in the end, it appeared they are really out there. Now that I have my experienced SAP-knowledgeable IT Solution Architects on board, they turn out to be anything but crazy, these IT Architects. Far, far from it!”
By Mendel Koerts.