“An architect? What do I need an architect for??”
This is probably the question I get asked most often. My response is always: For the same reason you need an architect when you want to build something like a house, hotel or office building.
Odds are you are in some kind of building right now, or will be soon. Stop and take a look around for a moment. Someone had a vision for this building and decided to make the investment to construct it. That investor hired an architect who helped take that vision and turn it into a reality. The architect interviewed the stakeholders to understand the important business requirements, created models based on those requirements, designed the building’s blueprints and helped oversee the construction of the building. The architect was required to balance the business objectives, costs, building codes, and technical constraints throughout the entire life of the project.
For example, the client may have said “I want a fitness area with locker rooms and showers”. Without an architect, a general contractor would have told the client “Okay, I need the exact square footage and layout. What size water heater do you want? How much extra HVAC is all that gonna need?”. The architect serves to create that bridge between the client’s requirements and the concrete implementation details needed by the general contractor.
Builders don’t necessarily make good architects, and good architects aren’t necessarily the best builders for your project. Big projects rely on both good architects and good builders to be successful.
Bottom line: Technology architects provide the same types of skills, experience, knowledge and leadership to IT projects that building architects bring to construction projects. If you are investing in a major IT building, you should hire a good technology architect.