New Qualifications for Enterprise and Solution Architects

Tuesday 7 April 2009

The first BCS Enterprise Architecture SG meeting in London provided an overview of the recently upgraded ISEB qualification for Enterprise and Solution architects.

The presentation, given by Graham Berrisford from Avancier, who was on the working party to develop the new qualification, started by giving some background into the reasons why the previous qualification was now unsuitable (the misleading nature of the title 'IT architecture', and difficulty in agreeing the 'right' answers to questions) before introducing the two new qualifications, at an intermediate level (some experience, at least 3 years) and a practitioner (a level attained with at least 6 years of experience).

Graham demonstrated that the title 'architect', when used in the IT domain, is widely used and applied to many very different roles. A survey by the working party of over 2000 job adverts for architects in the IT industry identified that the term IT architect was not used. The most common architect job titles were Technical architect, Solution(s) Architect and Enterprise Architect (accounting in total for 50% of jobs).

The ISEB decided to maintain the focus of the previous certificate, which was aimed at Enterprise and Solution architects. (An ISEB qualification for technical architects was discounted due to the multiple specialisms which would make it too difficult to set an exam. Qualifications for more technical architects tend to be vendor focused).

So, the new qualifications are designed for both enterprise architects (working on cross-organisational and strategic programmes) and solution architects (working on specific solutions for specific problems or opportunities). The syllabus now covers 11 areas, and is supported by a reference model with over 400 items. The syllabus and reference model are available from the BCS website.

The Intermediate exam is based on 40 multiple choice questions that address topics in the reference model. The Practitioner exam is based on a case study distributed by the ISEB to candidates. To sit the Practitioner examination, the architect needs to have either an Intermediate certificate or a TOGAF Practitioner certificate. Graham concluded by stating that the new qualification should help encourage the professionalism in the architecture domain, which can only be a good thing, given the increasing complexity of systems and solutions.