Ask people what makes May a noteworthy month, and many folks in the northern hemisphere will wax rhapsodic about its being the peak of springtime. Others might mention Mothers' day. Ask Forrester's IT analysts and they're pretty sure to immediately blurt out "IT Forum!" IT Forum -- the conference formerly known as GigaWorld -- is our biggest IT conference as it brings together all our IT analysts and about a zillion of our customers in all the IT-based roles for whom we do research. Each major IT role gets a separate track of research -- that's 10 tracks this year. It's essentially a week of non-stop analyst-attendee interaction in various forms. It's intense for both analysts and attendees and easily the most stimulating week on my calendar. At least, on my business calendar (wouldn't want you to think I don't have a life!).
A basic question we're frequently asked is: What is the difference between architecting and designing or, alternately, between architecture and engineering? Most people who ask this question have conflict in their organizations regarding which IT role does what, and it often comes down to which project artifact is whose responsibility.
For most organizations, the ambiguity between the responsibilities of the project-related architect (which Forrester refers to as a “solution architect” -- see Leverage Solution Architects To Drive EA Results) and a senior engineer is largely an academic issue. For most organizations what matters most is identifying and sourcing the individuals with the appropriate knowledge and skills and making them available to mission-critical projects. The availability of senior technicians on the projects is what often determines the level of detail in the design supplied by the solution architect.
The exceptions to the “most organizations” mentioned in above are the large-to-very-large engineering shops, such as the largestUS federal government civilian and DoD agencies, and large private sector organizations that do major engineering projects such as Boeing. Organizations that have over 1000 individuals in the development environment and launch multi-year $100M+ IT projects have closely defined project roles and do what is necessary -- including extensive external contracting -- to source the appropriately skilled individuals. In these environments the “it depends” argument is not sufficient and a clean delineation of role tasks and deliverables becomes necessary.