The world is changing with double-quick speed. Companies face the challenge of changing their inner processes and working methods to stay in the game. In other words, businesses need digital transformation that will adjust processes to software solutions.
Such a transformation demands specific expertise and skills to make the software solution correspond to the business needs and operations.
Here is where a solution architect enters the game. Let's go deeper into the processes, skillset, and project input of a solution architect.
What is a solution architecture
First of all, it is worth defining what a solution architecture is. Techopedia defines solution architecture as the
process of developing solutions based on predefined processes, guidelines, and best practices with the objective that the developed solution fits within the enterprise architecture in terms of information architecture, system portfolios, integration requirements, and many more.
Simply put, solution architecture is describing, designing, and managing the solution development to address the client's needs and problems. Solution architecture describes how different business components, information, and technology architectures are used in a particular solution. It is considered as one of the most complex processes done during IT solution development.
So what exactly does a solution architect do to make it properly?
What does a solution architect do?
A solution architect is a bridge between business issues and the IT solutions of those. In essence, this specialist is a strategist involved in designing, building, and deploying the software solution.
Unlike a developer, an architect does not think about the interaction of classes, but about the interaction of solution components - applications, web services, and so on. Although, if required, they should quickly go deep into the details of the code. Also, the business aspect of the solution for the architect is as important as the technical one. Developers often focus on technologies and new libraries they want to explore; the priority of an architect is to consider the client's interests and needs.
A solution architect is involved in a project at the very beginning. First of all, the architect analyzes the customer's business goals related to the new product. They focus on requirements that affect the architecture, software part of the solution, and its components. Then they scheme the solution and think over its design. The architect decides what components the product will consist of, whether they need to be developed from scratch, or it'll be the right choice to use out-the-box components.
Architects also participate in pre-sales, advise clients, audit the architecture of an existing solution: evaluate its effectiveness for the particular tasks, think over its optimization, etc.
As you can see, the core aspect of a solution architecture is communication. An architect communicates a lot with both the client and the dev team and should provide them with a respective description of the solution.
Responsibilities of solution architect
A solution architect manages the whole dev team, including the project manager, and usually works with the PM closely to ensure the development processes align with the project's objectives.
So, the key responsibilities of a solution architect include:
- Evaluating the company's architectural system and technology environment
- Analyzing the company specifics and processes
- Reviewing, analyzing, compiling tech requirements
- Setting up a collaboration framework
- Creating a solution prototype
- Defining technology means for a solution
- Managing development process
- Identifying, managing, mitigating the possible risks
- Communicating with clients and dev teams
Sometimes, a solution architect plays a support role for an existing project manager, so they partially do all the above things.
Solution architect skills
As a rule, solution architects are former senior developers. The architect should have a solid technical background, a broad outlook, and experience in team and project management. Leadership and excellent communication skills are a must-have for an architect who often becomes the link between the client's team and the company. Here is a list of the tech areas an architect should be skilled in:
- Computer and operating systems
- IT infrastructure
- Cloud development
- Software architecture design
- System security
- Business analysis
- Project and product management
Along with that, as already mentioned, a solution architect should have strong communication skills. The success and efficiency of the solution being developed depend on how an architect can listen, speak, and communicate with all the project participants.
When your project needs solution architect
In the last decade, the demand for solution architects has exploded due to the broad set of skills they bring to a project. Solution architects are specialists who deal with complex tasks while delivering value for both businesses and software vendors. Their relevance is increasing in a world where solutions are the conjunction of technology, resources, skills, and business goals.
But not every project needs an architect to be involved. Let's look at some cases when a solution architect consulting/participation is necessary.
When you are uncertain about what solution can be integrated into an enterprise ecosystem. The majority of enterprises have their ecosystem already built. A solution architect is a person who looks for the best possible solution to meet the standards of your company environment.
A project involves the digital transformation of a company. Digital transformation is about business translating its core offline operations to online. Such a process needs linking technologies with business needs and perspectives.
There is a considerable amount of risk. There are cases when a project may include multiple products. In such cases, an architect evaluates possible tech risks and mitigate them.
There is a need to set up a smooth communication between tech personnel and stakeholders. A solution architect is a person who understands and negotiates with both engineers and non-technical specialists, and, if necessary, breaks the barriers between to ensure the success of the project.
The project involves multiple teams. In this case, the architect manages the teams of designers, developers, and project managers.
You need a product roadmap. If you need to present your future product or solution to investors or stakeholders, a solution architect will identify the best technologies for the product and give a reason for it in plain language.
How could solution architect contribute to your business
A solution architect helps a project succeed by forestalling the possible issues or making the existing ones go away. As already mentioned, sometimes, a solution architect is support for project managers. In such cases, the architect influences the tech decisions made by the manager.
For this reason, the impact of a solution architect on a company comes down to:
- Finding the best solution suitable for your business
- Preventing unnecessary waste of time, money, and effort
- Moderating the issues aroused on the project (technical and interpersonal)
- Ensuring a smoother communication between the team and executives
- Setting up a correct strategy for a project development
- Successful launch of a product
The main 2 points of a solution architect are to define the most suitable solution for your company and to fix the issues that may already exist. Solution architects analyze your business needs and processes thoroughly, detect the technologies to match those processes and keep track of the project's tech and communicative aspects.
With a solution architect, a project has a higher chance of seeing a successful launch. That's true, especially for companies that are going to integrate tech projects into their business models.
If you are considering digital transformation or thinking about the solution to fit your current enterprise system, we recommend exploring the enterprise software services we provide. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.