The Business Architect

IT Architecture isn’t something most businesses think about. However, as The Architecture Practice (TAP) founder Saurabh Anand tells Business First, fit-for-purpose architecture can have a profound effect on the bottom line.

When most of us think about architecture it is in the context of property construction; grand designs, towering buildings, aesthetically pleasing interiors.

However, there is another kind of architecture that is just as important to the fabric of society – certainly to the smooth running of businesses and it all has to do with Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

The Architecture Practice (TAP) founder Saurabh Anand  is the Chief Architect and Chief Executive Officer at The Architecture Practice, a company that specialises in Enterprise Architecture, Business and ICT Strategy.

Saurabh wants to make one thing clear from the start: TAP is not a system integrator. The company focuses on services and value add.

“In 2014, I saw a big gap in the market in terms of architecture services. Many of the Executives were struggling with developing strategies, let alone implementing them and many of the Architects didn’t realize the impact their decisions would have over the 5-10 years horizon.”

Saurabh has been working in the strategic architecture space since 2007 and knows a thing or two about ICT services. He has worked in positions from Programmer to Tech Lead to Architect to Strategist in government and private sectors.

Prior to starting TAP, he was working in Department of Defence with a focus on Strategy and Architecture.

He says when you think of IT Architecture, a good way to understand it is in the context of a town planner.

“Normally when you build a new town, you must decide on the location of the residential segment, the hospitals, parks and where vital infrastructure will go. People who plan and design towns must look at the entire landscape to see where things best fit and what doesn’t work. The IT landscape is no different.”

It is broken into enterprise level architecture knowing what to build and what to decommission and individual solution architecture – designing what the individual solution should look like.

So where does TAP fit into this matrix?

Saurabh founded TAP to solve architecture problems, develop innovative solutions and add value.

“Architecture and strategy is considered as a white elephant. There is too much focus on nirvana and what it should look like. Yet, building nirvana isn’t practical at times. What we are doing is changing the mindset about finding practical, innovative and fit-for-purpose solutions. We look at what budgets we have, the problems we are trying solve and the best possible solution to deliver an outcome.

“A lot of organisations don’t think about their architecture in a practical way and that’s where we are different.”

TAP is essentially an Architecture as a Service (AaaS) company. You pay for what you get and if a job can be done in two months rather than 12, then TAP enables businesses to get on with it without wasting time and money on full time employees.

TAP is doing something right with this approach. The company is listed as a Top 100 Fast Starters. It came 51st last year and is on track to crack the Top 30-40 this year.

It has also built staff numbers to 35 staff.

“We are not here to make money, we are here to add value,” Saurabh says. However he is looking to gain brand recognition across Australia and Asia.

TAP is certainly on track to  do this. The business has grown organically and exceeded Saurabh’s expectations.

He initially believed it might take about 12-18 months to get the first opportunity. However, TAP already has 18-20 clients with all work coming as a result of relationships, networking and reputation.

“We did a lot of work in Canberra and were then recommended to other cities. We now work in the government, banking, transport and aviation sectors and the growth has all been built on building relationships.”

The relationships are built upon trust; an understanding that TAP is upfront with clients.

“If we can’t deliver, we tell clients up front. This isn’t about just getting a gig for us, we don’t want to over promise and under deliver and that creates good relationships.”

“When I talk about providing value, it is about innovating. We have to go beyond expectations. It is about good quality, fit-for-purpose solutions at a much lower cost and we ensure our solutions are relevant for the future. We don’t just architect and get out; we work with vendors as strategic partners to make sure they are on the right path. Eventually we want to get to the stage where TAP is the brand to solve their problems.”

TAP hasn’t diverted from its Architecture as a Service foundations. The company hasn’t needed to, however it has added national security, biometric and a range of other services to its architecture solutions.

The Sydney Siege is a prime example of how architecture is now relevant to security functions and TAP has been working with government to help implement security solutions.

The company has worked with it’s clients to ensure that their solutions are working well and deliver value for business. One of the vital things TAP is helping with is capturing information, for instance which information asset is used the most and what value it can add.

The most common issues encountered are the overall cost and IT spend. There is also a struggle to move away from legacy IT systems.

“Companies often build brand new capabilities, but IT cannot support them,” Saurabh says.

“We come in to change the mindset of a business and say ‘this is what you should focus on’. We give them a cost-effective clarity around a fit-for-purpose IT solution.”

TAP then helps with pre and post implementation issues including governance that is useful and long lasting.

TAP is all about the customer experience and value and that has seen it grow quickly in the very short time it has been operational.

The growth continues at pace with the company recently hiring a head of strategy from one of the Big 4 Consulting Firms. However, at present, Saurabh is thinking more along consolidation lines rather than expansion.

“A lot of organisations in our position want to expand, but we want to consolidate; sustain and retain resources, because our value is in our people. Once that is in place, we can then look at expansion.

Interestingly Saurabh has fielded three offers for TAP, but has declined each one, mindful that he may be short selling the business.

He also believes he has much more work to do with the business before he can consider an acquisition proposal.

“I think people need to start looking at IT differently. They shouldn’t be looking at big progress; it’s more about looking at realistic capabilities. It is not a question of buying tech for the sake of it. So if I can get to a stage where I am a trusted advisor to businesses, that is when I will be more content.”

And perhaps then, the world will better understand the true meaning of IT Architecture.

Business First is a peer-to-peer magazine: written by CEOs and other high level executives, with interviews with some of the country’s best leaders.

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