Followup on VP of SOA

I received two comments already on the Driving SOA post, one from Jason at ZapThink and one from Mike Kavis via his blog. Mike picked up that I suggested many of the responsibilities belong with the Chief Architect and correctly called out that this can be a lot of work to juggle. That being said, there’s absolutely no reason that the Chief Architect can’t delegate responsibilities to people on his or her team. Of course, if there is no architecture team, or if the architects are matrixed in from other organizations to where they have less-than-enterprise oversight, then this won’t work. This is where it gets back to a point I made at the end of my blog which asks whether the organization is biting off more than it can chew. This question needs to be asked before another body is brought in.

Jason specifically had some comments on the separation of responsibilities between the Chief Architect and the COO. He stated:

But a key point I’m making is that this person should be responsible for both the business process and architecture leadership. By separating the process responsibilities and assigning them to the COO, many organizations maintain the IT-centricity of their architecture efforts, which I see as a problem. That’s what I’m trying to address by combining the roles.

This is a good point, and if this is occurring in your organization, I think it indicates that the business/IT relationship is not where it needs to be. If the business and IT are simply all operating as “the business,” where they are seen as colleagues, peers, and partners, rather than IT being an order taker, I think the separation of responsibilities makes sense. If this partnership does not exist, an organizational change is one way of addressing it, but again, it is debatable (as we’re doing!) as to whether this approach will be successful or not. I’ve always said that organizations can both hinder or help large scale initiatives. What I’ve also found is that organizational changes take a long time to make up for a lack of trust in a company. The people have to be committed to working as partners, and if they aren’t, putting someone above them doesn’t always fix the problem unless there’s a big stick involved.

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