There are many ways to instantiate an EA Team: virtual approaches, centralized teams, with and without solutions architects, etc. Regardless of the real-world constraints, the range of possible structures does not change the main objective of the team, the roles they play, and the work that must get done.
Since there are so many variations, we recommend that organizations think about the question primarily in the context of that work. There should be a role leading and/or managing the EA function, another role stewarding the repository of deliverables, another role with strengths in communications (upward, across, and down the organization), and a role able to set up and steward the various governance processes. Additional roles should include a matrix of discrete and overlapping perspectives representing major areas important to the organization. We have seen teams organize this matrix across the various emphasis areas of EA (business, information, technology domains, solutions), across business/organization models (portfolio architects), and other hybrid models. Understand that due to resource constraints, some people may perform multiple roles, and some roles may be distributed across various reporting entities.
As a starting point for analysis, though, we recommend that medium to large organizations strive to create a 6 to 7 member core team, excluding a separate pool of solution architects of sufficient size to guide/coach individual projects. Depending on the organization’s culture, maturity, and available skills, the solution architect pool can report directly to the leader of the EA function or be distributed with dotted-lines back to the EA function.
As we say, there are many variations and it is possible to achieve a working EA function via trade-offs, compromises and approximations. Drop us a note and we’ll be happy to set up a time to discuss your unique circumstances.