In the years working in the consulting business for Adobe I joined many projects. Some only temporary to support on some special issues, others in a broader context; but always it was with a focus on the technology, on implementation, architecture and infrastructure. And with this background, I always tried to help my customers and projects and use the AEM (or CQ5) technology in the right way; to spend their money wisely and cost-effective.
But: according to my own standards I often failed to do so.
Not because I did not know the product. Not because the customer was not listening to me. And not because I was not able to give advice. But because I was not sitting at the right table when some important decisions were made. Because I was sitting with infrastructure teams to build a hardware sizing. I was working with customers architects to understand the constraints under which we have to design and operate AEM. But I did not have enough time to work with the business, understand their needs and the ways they thought AEM can help them. I was not there when they decided on content architecture, components and templates, business processes and how the editors should work. Because my focus is technology, so I talk with the technology people in the first place.
And why is that important for all of us? Because if you don’t know AEM and you don’t have any guidance what it can do and how the existing features can be used, it is very likely that you start building everything on your own. In that case you never use the advanced features of AEM, but you start based on that what you know or what was demo-ed to you by presales people. If you don’t have a person, a trusted advisor, someone knowing AEM very well (and also all the features added to it in the last years!), you start to invest a lot of money to build things which already exist. Too much money.
Let me introduce the AEM business consultant. Someone very familiar with philosophy of AEM. Someone which has an up-to-date knowledge of AEM. Someone which is not a developer, but can map your requirements into AEM features and knows what is possible out-of-the-box and where an existing feature needs an extension on top. And also someone which helps to leverage other features of AEM you paid for.
A business consultant will attend meetings with business stakeholders and with the users which are going to use AEM. A business consultant will help you telling the technologists what they should implement (and what not). And a business consultant is a good partner to the architect and together they can identify the gaps which have to covered by custom development and they frame requirements in a way that they can be covered by out-of-the-box features.
For me often working in an architect role it makes me job much easier if I can focus on the technical aspects. If I know that I have a partner in crime at my side, which makes sure that business users understand the philosophy of AEM; if the business people know what they can get easily; and if they understand what requirement is harder to implement (although it sounds soo easy). Because once an idea has developed in the mind of the business stakeholders, it’s much harder to change it (if that’s necessary). If you as an architect see the requirement before its implementation at all.
Because the worst case scenario is that you are implementing some project features and spend a lot of money on it. And in hindsight it turns out that it could have implemented it with 20% of the time if someone would have told the business and developers, that they just re-invented content fragments (while using AEM 6.3 which has that feature built-in). But because noone told them that, you have designed and built a lot of your application on this custom implementation; and replacing it is expensive. But with a business consultant in the project she would have identified that within the first sessions and helped you to use this out-of-the-box feature.
So a business consultant helps you to spend your money on the right things; and an architect ensures that it is built the right way. Two sides of the same medal.