The EA service team approach is common when EA teams are starting out or when they aren’t adequately funded to fully support the teams they are tasked to serve. Although it is possible to keep this lightweight, and that is often a necessity due to funding constraints, it can sometimes devolve into a review-based, documentation heavy approach. Furthermore, due to understaffing the enterprise architects rarely have the time to coach others in architectural skills. In extreme situations the EA team becomes a bottleneck for the solution delivery teams waiting for help from them.
Large Enterprise Architecture Team Structure
Very large organizations, often those with thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of people in solution delivery teams, need a more sophisticated approach to organizing their EA team. In these situations, they tend to have a multi-level approach. For example, we worked with one organization that is taking a three-level approach to the collaborative team strategy described earlier. The first level is enterprise architecture for the line of business within a specific geographic region (e.g. retail banking in Europe), the second level for the geographic region (e.g. Europe), and the third level for the overall organization.
With this strategy someone is an AO on a delivery team and a member of the first level EA team. The chief EA of the first level team is a member of the second level team for their geographic region, and the chief EA of that team is a member of the organization-level EA team. In short, this multi-level EA team structure reflects the overall organization’s structure.
Each EA team structure described above has advantages and disadvantages. No one approach fits all situations, and as the context of the situation that you face evolves over time so will the structure of your enterprise architecture team.