- Those that can't cut it in development and have escaped into Powerpoint
- Those who have gone through technology delivery and out the other side
The problem is that sometimes its hard to spot the difference between the prat who doesn't understand and is diminishing the importance of technology and the superlative architect who is diminishing the importance of technology because he knows what needs to be delivered but has to get everyone else bought in.
Now one advantage in rooting out the BAs (Bluffing Architects) is that they will use buzzwords all over the place and mostly use language that is more suited towards sociology than engineering. But sometimes they can be cunning and have read all of chapter 1 of a technology book. So here are my guide to checking whether someone is an Architect who has passed through (TPA) or just a Detritus (BA).
- Drill down - a TPA will drill into detail to find out how much you understand and so what level they have to talk to you. A BA will just say "that isn't important"
- Vendor X says don't do that - claim that a vendor (IBM, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft are always good ones) has said that you should do something different (e.g. buy a load of software). BA will claim their approach matches what the vendor wants "at an abstract level". TPA will explain why you are almost as much of an idiot as the vendor
- Say you've heard there are bugs in the proposed products - BA will say that this is the vendors problem and that the analysts rank them as leaders. TPA will say "its a product, of course its got bugs in it, but its pointless building it ourselves" or something similar
TPAs are the most valuable architects in the IT business, they have earned the right to abuse technology because they genuinely know better. The trouble is that all to often architecture is populated by those who left development but didn't want to become project managers.