What are Various Architecture Staffing Models

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Various Architecture Staffing Models

Choose an Architect workforce model that addresses the above. Instead of full-time architect, consider the executive or director or technical sponsor for the role main question – “What will the role do after the first two projects/tasks?”.  

Architect as Full-Time Employee

RetentionQualityLevel of WorkGrowthTotal Cost
Low, Good ones move onPlateaus after two projects. No guaranteed output after first two projects. As well, ramp-up time typically more as requires more upfront trainingFull-time, even if after first two projects workload does not matchIts either a tech architect for short-term or exec. architect for long-term, rarely can you find both in one and keep them. No guarantee of knowledge transition to team/corporation.$150-200k/yr
$100-150k in salary plus 20% in benefits plus training, on-boarding every 3 years

Architect as Full-Time Employee with executive responsibilities (not necessarily supervisory)

RetentionQualityLevel of WorkGrowthTotal Cost
Increases based on add-onsKeeps Good ones around and performance-based payFull-time commitment, but workload may not match change agent value – would have to find workPerformance can only incent so much, so this is same problem as employee model$175-275k/yr
$100-150k in salary plus 20% in benefits plus training, on-boarding plus 20% in performance and/or equity 

Independent Contract-based employee Architect as near full-time or full-time

RetentionQualityLevel of WorkGrowthTotal Cost
Renew based on defined, known key result directives/areas. Typically this is one with relationship that exists so sometimes harder to let goRenewal-based to help buy-back risk on post first two projects.Can be full-time, part-time or variable (FFP, T&M) and renewal-basedCan either watch growth, change detail responsibility, or lower hours in one architect. No guarantee of knowledge transition to team/corporation.$150-250k/yr
Typically T&M models with NTE of full-time investment, less onboarding, no benefits/FUCA

Hybrid – Independent Consulting Architect to do & lead Junior Full-Time employees

RetentionQualityLevel of WorkGrowthTotal Cost
Renew based on defined, known key result directives/areas. Sometimes harder to let go if junior employees have grown attachedRenewal-based to help buy-back risk on post first two projects as well as increase corporate knowledge retentionCan be full-time, part-time or variable (FFP, T&M) and renewal-basedAssure knowledge transition and investment in growing staff


$120-$200/hour with volume discounts. Typically more efficient than 100% full-time models

Architecture firm Consulting Services

RetentionQualityLevel of WorkGrowthTotal Cost
Renew and include key personnel requirementsHave more access to various executive, enterprise, solutions, technical, data, process, and services architecture as well as additional deeper tech-reachbackCan be individual or multiple full-time, part-time or variable (FFP, T&M) and renewal-basedCan vary investment in different architect types that change as the fast disruptive

$75 to up 300k/yr for equivalent of 1 FTE

Higher cost per hour, less hours

Recommend 3 to 8 $25 to 75k task order in first year max.

Interim Consult/Contract

RetentionQualityLevel of WorkGrowthTotal Cost
Known end with options to extendsame as non-employee options aboveTypically Full-time as it is placeholding for full-time positionVaries by model chosen above – contract, independent consultant, consulting firm$125-300k/yr
As well, given the task order is more long-term, and has authority as would employee, this reduces the “consulting” model tensionVaries greatly and sometimes requires hefty headhunter fee


Xentity can support any of these models in contract-to-hire, staff augmentation, or various consulting capacities.

How Xentity finds top talent

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Xentity has a brand in presenting top-talent to and vetting top-talent for clients across the globe. Given such, a great amount of the credit goes to executing the proper vetting process and selecting top quality staff and partners to assist in such.  

Our interview process goal is to find top talent, not just someone looking for another job

Our brand is our staff and how they execute deliverables. Our clients and partners rely on us to find top talent. Our interview process primary focus is to vet the candidate’s capability to learn quickly, test the motivations of the candidate to learn, and assure they have the skills necessary to competently interface with and deliver quality, on-time work for the client. We are not interviewing your past, but what can you do for us in the near future.

Xentity management has executed, studied, and developed this process since prior to Xentity’s official inception. Xentity has enhanced its process by leveraging human resource expertise built from large companies and independent consulting advisory to help assure compliance in human resource approaches while uniquely qualifying candidates for a small consultancy. By blending the two, this brings superior merits over traditional human resource process techniques.

Specifically for boutique professional firms such as Xentity with highly talent needs, we seek unique individuals who can demonstrate they thrive on entrepreneurial spirit while providing a team environment at Xentity and appropriately with the client team. This process proves its superiority by testing the learning curve for intellectual, self-motivational, and technical know-how needed that the human resource process – which focuses on the past, resume metadata, buzzword interviews, and content-lacking polished presentation – lacks. The risks involved in an inadequately filled or open position can result in lost revenue from delayed time to market, applying the wrong solutions, poor customer service impacting brand, lost opportunities, reduced staff morale, and more. To stay competitive in today’s market, key positions must be filled quickly and correctly. A business cannot afford the risks of a vacant position or a position filled with an individual unable or unwilling to meet tomorrow’s requirements.

For example, in this space, a recent forum on enterprise architecture discussed the lack of success by human resource departments for hiring enterprise architects. The HR department used resume keyword search which found candidates, the interviewer knew the buzzwords, and typical enterprise architects have a superior presentation skill and are experts in metadata (i.e. tagging for work, so their resumes are tagged well) than many technical workers. Given this, the human resource process did its job, yet still delivered an ineffective human resource.

The HR process checked for technical qualities, but not for true demonstration of leadership and consulting competencies which is a large bulk of architecture and management consulting. At the same time, management consultancies check for interpersonal and motivational foundation skills as well as more savvy people and coalition-building skills, but tend to allow just-in-time learning as technique to see if they can learn the architecture and methods. That in itself is not bad, but that means that they would be learning the methods/tools as well as client-domain at the same time, which is a very, very difficult task to achieve.

Given this, Xentity uses a competencies-based approach that validates that the candidate, though has many years of experience, can, while meeting basic pre-requisites, can work in a new environment on different lines of business, different socio-political factors in the environment, all the while handling problems and excited about being challenged. This approach flushes out examples of the transformational leadership characteristics needed that take years of experience of focused investment and growth. The cultural approach focuses much more on leadership side of enterprise architect over the analyst skillset side of architecture such as modeling tools, methods, frameworks which is more easily learned and rapidly taught. Finally, we look to prove the thought process and approach towards varying subject matter and industry domains.

This process tests the leadership qualities along side the analyst qualities in interviews that are intended ask the interviewee to:

  • demonstrate, not simply survey, through showing their portfolio, discussing the “mock” deliverable, 
  • perform individual technical exercises with “on the fly” adjustments as well as team exercises testing different interactions styles. 
  • capture leadership quality scores against competency models, that after hiring for those candidates, would be used to form initial performance goals for reviews. Furthermore, seeking promotions thereafter is directly tied into that same leadership scoring against the competency model. By connecting to the performance objectives, this then allows the candidate turned new employee to immediately enact the ramp-up plan.

If the candidate can simply show they committed to learn, learned, and for what they didn’t learn yet, can show they can learn on the fly, it exhibits they can rapidly adjust to the new context.

With that, Xentity is proud to present its candidates with strong competitive, compensation and long-term engagements to assure that conducting the process rewards the candidate as well as the client.

We can approach architecture for other implementers

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For a large majority of consulting companies both design and implement for ALL projects.  Though profitable for many firms, the best design can end up biased towards the agenda of the implementer which may be to sell more components, get more bodies. Now, we have the capability to implement architecture, but our end goal is not to design an architecture that is for us to implement, but an architecture that is implementable. 

Many times, the client knows that the implementer will design with a bias, so the client chooses to or must design blind without considering the maturity of what an implementer can provide. In those cases, we can come in, architect, and be a third party to help do the concept, design, and design the requirements and performance work statement basis.

This approach with these services buy-back risk to your implementation and increase the likelihood of achieving your metrics and goals.

  • In Architecture, We can design and not implement. Though all our designers come with deep experience in implementing, and we can, in cases as independent designers, we can provide the best design recommendations without bias for implementation.
  • In Management Consulting, we can stand-up program management, execute a program management or governance support in lieu of existing support, or transition to existing support. 
  • In FedBiz, we train, support, and consult implementers on federal business management, so they can focus on delivering a solid implementation. Quality contractor support to implement a design, project, or program is hard to find. Compliant, Responsive, Reliable is even harder in Government space
  • In Communications, we help promote the transformation effort
  • In Research, we continually re-invest in new models, patterns, and constructs that go back into our designs.

 Why do we do it? We are all stuck if there are not good implementers or integrators to implement the designs, so it is more important for us to see the transformation designs move forward.

Blending a Distributed Transformation Team

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It is no secret that Politicians and Senior Executives in the Federal Government are Washington DC based. In the corporate world, they are equivalent to the Corporate Agency Headquarters as well as many regional offices. These HQ’s lead new policies, budget decisions, funding distribution and forming core principles and program direction for defense and civilian programs. Most Senior Executives in DOD and Civilian Agencies are based in DC. So, a common question from agencies, partners, and candidates is why would a transformation and management consulting firm providing government executives be based in Colorado?

In short, the work is not done in DC – its done in the programs. A not very well known fact is that a very large amount of those programs – especially Engineering, Earth, Energy, and Land based programs – are actually run out of Colorado. Colorado has over 53,000 Federal Government employees (Denver Post June 2011), not including federal contractors. The concentration of Federal Labs, Military Bases, Land and Science Program management, and multiple Science and operations centers are the main culprits. Specifically, for the civilian programs, Denver, has over 10,000 Federal Employees and contractors running the operations, hosting, and mission functions for those programs are in and around the Denver Federal Center. A majority of these agencies are Earth or Land Program focused. See a list of over 100 Agencies and functions.. In the commercial world, Denver also has a large presence in Communications, Satellites, Financial, and Restaurant Headquarters given its central U.S. location.

This means for example, DOE EERE in DC sets direction and budget for NREL, but the NREL program R&D National Lab is in Golden, CO performing the Solar, Wind, Biomass, Hydrogen, Geothermal, water power and other renewable studies and preparation for commercialization and technology transfer. Or USGS program headquarters are in Reston, and USGS is located around the world, but a major hub is Denver based with thousands of employees and contractors performing water quality analysis, tracking eathquakes, making geospatial data. 
We have seen two-approaches to transformation in distributed organizations: Headquarter Located Survey models, and Collaborative Blended Location Models

Headquarter Located Survey models: Data Calls

Lets use a Federal Government example. When it comes to program mission transformation or migrating programs to shared services or consolidations, the DC-based Senior Executives set the direction, from DC. DC-based consulting support in transformation for the common executive corporate functions – budget formulation, IT Policy setting, Financial Accounting, Workforce statistics and strategy development, and other more corporate commodity services. 

What gets lost though is the real mission business transformation analysis, ideation buy-in, actual migration issues, consolidation, and recommendation implementation will be in the field.

No corporation survives by “crystal tower” decision making, and thou shalt execution perfection. So, there shouldn’t be any expectation that true transformation needs to include the collaboration – not upward data-call reporting – but transformation working with the non-DC program management to construct the needs, deem the appropriate strategic or tactical improvement opportunities, identify the quality improvement, process efficiencies, lifecycle management changes from supply to enablement to use, and examine the sequence possibilities of their program, investment, system, facility, and asset portfolio.

An example pathing of this mistake is that DC-based executives will ask DC consultants to perform data calls as a way to reach out to programs as a way to collaborate. So, the unknowing consultant creates the template, it looks good – and it really does. Performs the data call (this may include a local visit or literally be a phone call) that no one likes, but needs to be done. But ultimately, the result is flawed in a few ways. Typically, the data call is presented from a corporate point of view void of the unique program mission factors that impact on programs such as: Science Data Management, Geospatial and Geography Services, Earth Observation and Remote Sensing, Natural Resource Planning, Policy, and Protection, Wildland Fire Management, National Environmental Protection Act Management, Land management, Park Management, Agricultural Study, Energy Lifecycle Management, Emergency/Hazards Management, Health Information Management, and other mission Information and Data Engineering & Research.

The DC consultant was brought in for executive corporate analysis, and does not typically have context to the program being done in the field, but does collect the information as requested. Based on that completes a very good analysis of the information provided. Provides some analysis and recommendations based on the data calls input and reception of that in DC.

THEN, the results come back, and the problems start as the saying “garbage in, garbage out” goes. And worse, the strain seen in the public eye between DC and citizens grows very akin to the strain seen between DC and non-DC management. It is widely publicized that DC is very unpopular in the public eye right now, but as well, internal management between beltway decision making and program management are at huge odds due to the same climate of having to respond to the current political climate.

Turns out the system manager who provided the information didnt have the context of the overall policy. The System architect didnt realize a certain integration point and provides several technical reasons of why that cannot work. Managers weren’t on the data call, so some core change context was missed and unfortunately misrepresented, causing consternation and delay in accepting any recommendations and requires further revision. Program executives in hearing all the consternation respond with lack of support towards the initiative fearing another change revolt.

Even though there was a powerpoint giving an overview of the effort, the call was performed flawlessly, and even a web site with some PDFs and facts providing some context, the reality is, it was in the context of the DC-based effort, it still failed. There was no account for the program context and how it is associated to localized change. The executives brought it didn’t come in through the program, so their staff didnt have the proper impetus. And, when the realization of how important it really was came about, it was too late to ask questions.

Collaborative blended location approach for providing Agency and Program Executive Analysis Design and Planning Services

Whether its a Major Data Center Consolidation initiative, move to shared services, migrating financials systems to single point solutions, executive driven efficiencies engagement, or moving up the maturity model chain for that program, a blended model for leveraging outside consultancy in this area helps address – not avoid – these issues much more complete and efficiently, and sometimes less painful.

Xentity’s approach is to engage and involve early and often the programs by working with the local presence – both in DC and in the program presence – which has typically been Denver to date. Denver is in the “Interior” and for the Department of the Interior, for instance who manages 1 in 5 acres of the United States, mostly West of the Mississippi, key DOI presence are in Albuquerque, Sioux Falls, California, Portland, Seattle, etc and similar for USDA and many of those on the list of over 100 Agencies and functions are at the bottom of this article based in Denver. DC isn’t the only place with daily political fires or lacking clear communication directions – Programs have lots of fires too. It seems odd to even say this, but the “Potomac Fever” or Headquarter myopic views tend to forget that programs are more than a robotic factory (even if they are just that). Local response to new technology acquisition governance gone awry. Rogue process or technology developments going the wrong way resulting in server down time or premature application deployment. Standard Workforce management issues causing re-swizzling of assignments. Failure in a processing batch that causes a mini-industrial engineering assessment as to the quality, mechanistic, process, or workforce failure. 

This context – this hands-on context – helps with grounding the recommendations in realities and in context almost in an ethnographic way. Rather than surveying what is happening asking the wrong people out of context, ask the people while they are in context so the right answer is gotten right away with the right perspective and next steps. As well, by being near by, as factors dance around what needs to be discovered, the local context begins to show the true issues that need to be addressed. In the end, by keeping the ideas where the problems are to how they can fit into the target approach tested and ultimately with and by DC-based, the end solution is likely to be more readily implementable, have higher accuracy, mitigate more risks, and, for what its worth, increase corporate morale as the “cheese is moved”.

An example of doing this as a lesson learned at the Department of the Interior, in the latter phases, is for a major financial business and management system consolidation driven from DC, but the DC-led effort also has an on the ground transition team training, triaging, and guiding the local migration issues. The analysis phase did not do this, and resulted in several start and stops, restarts, lawsuits, etc. The original effort considered a handful of systems, a second effort resulted in a dozen, and then a local analysis results in discovering a couple hundred interfaces. It was at this point, the DC-led team started to look at batches and phases, based on locational presence and complexity. It is still a very difficult problem transitioning one-hundred plus year old accounting processes into a modern single financial service, but the local presence in both places has resulted in later batches having increased success.

How Xentity executes the local presence blended model
Xentiy is Colorado based but with staff in both Colorado and DC amongst other client headquartered areas. All staff will be trained in our Services Catalog, transformation methods, and leadership qualities. An added advantage is our cost of living adjustment over DC headquarters is passed on through our general administration and overhead costs. This, on top of our 8(a) acquisition benefits and Commercial and GSA Schedules, and partner agreements help get started quickly as we are very accessible.
Headquarter Local Consulting – Our or are prime partner staff can support on-site the Senior Executives are responding to political pressures, last-minute calls for action, and advisory and supporting consultants will get pulled in for quick response. If you are not in DC, you can quickly be put out of mind as you are out of sight which in this model is a benefit, so the Denver-based staff can focus on the program management and design needs. In addition, we train our staff or select partners who are well versed in the Corporate context, jargon, lingo, portfolio, players in that agency to help accelerate ramp-up.
Program Local Consulting – Our Colorado based staff bring the actual mission subject matter expertise analysis, design, and planning skillset where it tends to be. They are trained on the earth, land, and mission subjects. They work with the programs, and as well, living in the Interior of the United States, next to Federal Lands, Recreating in National Lands, and experiencing the wonders and threads (Wildland Fire, Water, Climate) issues of the Interior tend to build an internal drive as well. This means our staff will be familiar with the
  • Metro-based Hosting, engineering, Technical, research, Service or Operation Center effiiciencies, status, portfolio current state and key influencers in various agencies, bureaus, and programs. 
  • Understand the Laboratory Portfolio of work and challenges for technology transfer and quality, yet efficient science that the Denver Metro based national and regional labs encounter
  • Trust factors and gaps between DC decision makers and Denver-based upper management. 
Xentity recommends a blended model to help with better understanding of the true program portfolio, understand the value chain as it goes through the actual centers, and also, help build the bridge of better understanding, clarity, increased context and risk mitigation between Headquarter (DC) and major Programs and Centers. This engages the Program Middle Management, Labs, Centers to be inclusive, like in any transformational leadership guide, allows the solution to be collaboratively developed to better help mitigate risks in migrations, understand the true portfolio alternatives, sequencing, and again, and building trust. 


Supporting Commercial Small Business Clients

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Commercial Small businesses need advice as much or more than commercial large businesses. Xentity has supported an array of multiple small businesses. In supporting smaller organizations, with limited budgets, Xentity has implement a concept that allows qualified small business to received Xentity services offered at Cost, Rewarded on Performance.  Simply put: Xentity profits ONLY when you meet your goals. Xentity can afford to take such a risk due to it’s experience in transformation, self-invested up-front research, and small business applicant selection process. In most cases, any initial costs are only for assets and incurred expenses, but the hourly or retainer fees are waived for the initial planning and selection period.

Small Businesses are selected based on leadership potential and examination of the first 6 planning steps to qualify:

1 – Conduct Business/Organization Readiness Interviews
2 – Collaborate on developing your asset/liability plan
3 – Collaborate on developing your debt payment/capital plan focusing on getting to “no” bad debt
4 – Develop and help you commit to monthly expenses/income/cash flow plan
5 – Discuss and establish your products and services rate, margin, and profit objectives/targets
6 – Create/Review a business and marketing plan!
Bonus: Xentity has partnership with small business financial advisors for maintaining the new financial investment plan.

After the plans are established, which typically occurs over a 90-day period or in a 2-day rapid planning workshop, Xentity will document the basis for the business plan and the the easiest possible percentage-based performance pay for services based on financial, performance, and execution-level expectations including incentives and dis-incentives.

If the plan and our services can improve profit margin, cost savings or avoidance via new models, process change, applying best practices, workforce mentoring, integration, transformation, and modernization, then the performance pay would kick in. If not, after each 90-day evaluation, the performance and plan can be adjusted appropriately. This gives the client ample opportunity to assess if Xentity’s approach works within the client’s culture as well as time to complete internal organizational readiness evaluations of the client. All Xentity Small Business partners listed in the portfolio of work have taken advantage of this approach.

Please feel free to contact sales@xentity.com if interested in learning more.

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