Hiring Business Architects: A Case Study

by Jeff Scott, on Nov 23, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Shaking_hands.jpgEarlier this year I was just beginning to work with a mid-sized healthcare company to hire a senior business architect when I wrote about the state of business architecture recruiting. (See: Recruiting Business Architects.) This business architecture team has been in place for five years, moved from IT into the business, and is considered highly valuable by the business leaders they work with. They recently filled their position and agreed to share their experience. I interviewed both the recruiter and the hiring manager. Here is what found:

How did you locate potential candidates for this role? 

We posted the position internally and on our public career site. We also posted it to our company LinkedIn page and shared that widely. Additionally, we posted to Career Builder and business architecture related LinkedIn discussion groups. (Note from Jeff: I also solicited resumes via this blog and through my other business architecture community connections).

How many resumes did you receive?

We received a total of 50 resumes, 47 external and 3 internal.

How many candidates did you interview?

We phone screened about eight candidates and passed six of these along to the hiring manager. Four were external and two were internal.

How well did the candidates you saw fit the requirements in your job posting?

Seventy percent did not meet minimum requirements. Twenty percent met the basic requirements. And ten percent met most of the requirements.
Our ultimate hire met our requirements better than expected.  My perfect candidate would have had strong business consulting, business architecture, and healthcare industry experience.  Of these, I think business architecture might be the hardest to find. Our final selection was the only candidate with significant business architecture experience.  We had other strong candidates who were very experienced business consultants with business-planning and transformation backgrounds. We opted for the candidate with business architecture experience and consultative skills.

How long did it take to fill the position from start to finish?

From the time we posted the position until candidate acceptance was four months with an additional month before he started work.

Recruiting tips offered by the internal company recruiter:

This was my first experience recruiting for the business architect role so facilitating a recruiting kickoff meeting with the hiring manager was key for me to understand this role. 
Identify common candidate “traps” – for example making sure the recruiter knows the different between a business architect, solutions architect, and business analyst.

Establish a routine feedback meeting with the hiring manager to collect feedback and discuss candidates.  For unique roles like this one, “live” feedback (instead of emailed feedback) is so important to building understanding of the role and creating an accurate picture of what the hiring manager is looking for. This enables the recruiter to have a much better dialogue with potential candidates and better assess those candidates fit.
Keep an open mind and think beyond the term “business architect”.  We met with several candidates that were more consulting focused but had a clear aptitude for business architecture methodology even though they didn’t have that specifically listed on their resume.

Recruiting tips offered by the hiring manger:

It helps to have HR partners who understand the role and required skills.  I was lucky to have a talented recruiter who was interested in learning about the business architecture role.

It is very difficult to determine the appropriate compensation for the business architect role. HR was unable to find comparable jobs among their reference sources.  It took a long time to come to agreement on the approach.  Eventually we used Enterprise Architecture as a model.

There are other roles out there called “Business Architect” that appear to be more like Business Analyst roles, or Solutions Architect roles. I can imagine those only serve to blur the picture for anyone involved in the hiring process who isn’t already familiar with the business architect role. 

Other observations from the hiring manager:

This has typically been a difficult position to fill.  I am a little surprised how hard the business architecture skills are to find. I know it’s an emerging discipline, but there ought to be some pool forming out there by now. 

It is particularly hard to find the business architecture skills together with business consulting skills in the same candidate. I did not want a candidate that presents as an IT-type.  In a larger business architecture organization, I might begin to divide these skills across two specialties within the team.  Part of the team could focus on defining and maintaining the business architecture; the other part would be business consultants who use the business architecture as one of the major tools in their toolkit.

The bottom line:_________________________________________________________________

Hiring business architects continues to be a difficult task. The pool of mobile, highly experienced architects remains small even as the profession grows. Recruiters are not familiar with the role requiring strong collaboration between hiring manager and recruiter.


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