Solutions Architect vs. Enterprise Architect: What's the Difference?
Updated June 24, 2022
Those interested in solving problems and working with technology may be interested in roles as either a solutions architect or enterprise architect. Both professions help organizations see ways they can use technology to improve their workflow. Knowing the key differences between a role as a solutions architect and an enterprise architect can help you choose which career path to pursue. In this article, we define what a solutions architect and enterprise architect are and compare the two roles.
What is a solutions architect?
A solutions architect is an IT professional who creates and modifies systems to fulfill a company's needs. To ensure they resolve specific business problems, they first evaluate the company's problems and then find ways technology can help them. Solutions architects are part of the solution development team, which also comprises computer network architects and enterprise architects. They provide strategies for solving a problem and the rest of the team focuses on implementing their solution. Job duties for a solutions architect include:
Resolving technical problems that arise
Deciding which framework, tech-stack or platform can help create a solution
Supervising and guiding development teams
Informing stakeholders about problems with existing solutions
Evaluating the business impact particular technical choices may have
Updating stakeholders on project development processes and costs
Testing and integrating software systems
Motivating and guiding the solution development team throughout the systems development life cycle
Providing a vision for the solution
What is an enterprise architect?
An enterprise architect is an IT professional who ensures a company uses the right technologies to achieve its goals. These individuals help companies reduce costs and regulate technology environments. They share information about the latest technologies and how they could help companies improve their business processes. An enterprise architect's job responsibilities include:
Creating business architect models to align with a company's goals
Finding ways to reduce costs in IT
Developing compliance architecture methods
Maintaining an organization's IT network and services
Upgrading enterprise services
Advising the business management on business and information integration strategies
Sharing with stakeholders how they can meet their business needs with technology
Providing updates on the status of a project
Solutions architect vs. enterprise architect
Here are some differences between a solutions architect and an enterprise architect:
One major difference between solutions architects and enterprise architects is the type of responsibilities they have. An enterprise architect identifies a problem, while a solutions architect finds a way to resolve it. This means that a solutions architect focuses on finding a way to resolve a specific issue. Their job duties tend to be more narrow and specific to the particular problem. A solutions architect connects technological vision with actual implementation.
Enterprise architects generally have broader responsibilities in their roles. They oversee a company's architectural domains, such as data to make sure it aligns with the mission. This also includes evaluating the resolutions solutions architects make. To create a more effective business process, they help guide a company's business decisions with IT strategies. An enterprise architect handles leadership and directional activities.
Both types of architect roles require a minimum education of a bachelor's degree. Solutions architects tend to major in information technology, computer science, software engineering or a related field. Their courses help them learn about how to use different systems and software to solve problems. Solutions architects may choose to continue their education to earn a master's degree for more employment opportunities. A minor in communications can help them develop effective communication skills to use in their role.
Enterprise architects often earn a bachelor's degree in either information technology or management information systems. Minoring in business can help them understand how to interact with their stakeholders. To help them with the business management side of their job, many enterprise architects earn a master's degree or MBA. Graduate-level courses focus more specifically on a role as an enterprise architect and cover topics, such as enterprise information and security technology.
Related: How To Become a Solution Architect
Skills and experience
Some skills that may help enterprise architects specifically for their job include strong design skills and stakeholder management. Since they work closely with businesses, it's helpful for them to have consensus-building skills to ensure cooperation and agreement with multiple parties. They must be able to translate ideas from solution architects into requirements. It's also helpful for them to know how to expand models and add new information.
Since enterprise architects have a higher status and more diverse job responsibilities than solutions architects, they tend to make more money. A senior solutions architect makes a national average salary of $156,537 per year. In addition to their regular compensation, these professionals also receive a $14,000 cash bonus each year.
On average, a senior enterprise architect working in the U.S. makes $153,420 per year. Salaries may vary depending on an individual's location and years of experience. Those who earn specialized certifications for either architect role may have the potential to earn higher wages as well due to their additional knowledge.
An enterprise architect is at the top level of the architect hierarchy. This means that have more responsibilities than solutions architects. While solutions architects focus on the solution, an enterprise architect focuses on the overview of the whole organization. They deal more with the business side of operations than solutions architects.
Solutions architects are one level above application architects, which are those who work on one specific application. Like application architects, their role is very specific to one function. These roles don't require as much business background since they don't interact with clients often. As they gain experience, many solutions architects may choose to become enterprise architects.
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