Technical vs Functional; The Great Debate

Too often in today’s Information Technology world, practitioners are categorized into silos.

The common argument for the classification is that the technology is too complex and no one individual can possibly be the master of it all.  While there is some truth to that statement, there is no doubt in my mind that an Enterprise Architect can be a generalist across multiple functional and technical subject areas.

Consider the example of the modern ERP application.  Regardless of the brand; SAP, PeopleSoft, Siebel, Oracle’s e-Business Suite, etc. all the major system integrators align their resources into the two camps; Technical and Functional.  It is my opinion, that resources from the two camps shall never meet on the same billable engagement!

What is the difference anyway?

Is a functional resource someone who has coded and configured the ERP module and isn’t enough of a geek, that the system integrator actually will permit the resource to be forward facing to the client?  On the other hand, how can a functional resource really know the inner workings of a module, if they haven’t actually configured or examined the underlying code line?  A functional expert must know if a business requirement is a configuration or a customization.

Perhaps the greatest irony in the of world of consultancy is found on the various job posting boards when a client requires a single resource with the domain expertise from both silos.  Is that resource called a “Techo-Functional”, or perhaps a “Functo-Technical” expert?

In fact, I would assert that the role of the Enterprise Architect is to provide harmony between the functional and technical disciplines.   The ideal architect must be as comfortable on the functional side with the business partners as he/she is in conversations with the technical resources.

Fostering Innovation Through Technology; that’s Bare Cove Technology.

What are your thoughts on this subject?

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