The world of technology is rapidly evolving, making organizations constantly shake up their operating methods & techniques to face emerging business challenges and changing customer demands efficiently. Businesses require a digital transformation of their critical operations, which involves transferring core processes to software solutions and streamlining them. This transition is very complex, and even its separate parts demand close attention. Hence an enterprise must have a solution architect with the specific skill set and talent to balance the business requirements with various nuances of technology solutions.
What is a Solution Architect?
A Solutions Architect is an expert, and it is a significant and client-facing role in the IT industry. This person is responsible for creating a comprehensive software solution architecture and providing strategic direction throughout the development cycle. A Solution Architect ensures that a new solution fits into existing enterprise architecture from the technical, user, business, and other perspectives. She cooperates with the teams involved in the development process and knows how every product & service works in architecture. A Solution Architect requires all of this knowledge to administer a successful delivery of a high-quality end product to the end-users.
What is Solution Architecture?
Because a solution architect ensures that a software solution works effectively, scale, and meet set business requirements, it must have a well-planned architecture accounting for various technical and customer nuances. The long-term success of any IT project relies on input from a software solution architect, who must possess: wide-ranging project management skills, solution architect skills, business analysis skills, and comprehensive technical expertise.
Architect Types (Infographics)
- Enterprise Architect
- Solution Architect
- Technical Architect
Understanding different types of Architects
They oversee a business’s entire enterprise ecosystem. Enterprise Architects are responsible for constructing and managing complex solutions to solving the company’s critical strategic issues. Their goal is to ensure the business has smooth development lifecycles and effectively uses available resources for every enterprise application.
As discussed above, the skill matrix for solution architect is way more practical, taking business requirements and turning them into new software solutions using a company’s emerging technology.
Technical architect roles and responsibilities include overseeing software architecture, implementation technology, and technical engineering. They are mainly responsible for providing technical leadership and making decisions regarding the most significant parts of the developed system. They closely work with the development teams communicating IT strategies and outlining practices meant to be followed through the project.
Significance of Solution Architect
Companies hire a solutions architect to successfully design & develop a new technology solution perfectly aligning with the business requirements and filling the communication gap between technical and non-technical experts involved in an IT project. The development process of an app is usually heavy on the budget and involves enormous risks. Hence every company must have a solution architect that allows implementing of new solutions and successfully scaling them.
Roles & Responsibilities of a Solution Architect
Let’s figure out the solution architect roles and responsibilities throughout the development process.
A solutions architect ensures that the results meet the requirements of the business as well as stakeholders. They create a technical vision demonstrating how that software meets business needs, and after that, they pass their tech vision to the development team, who starts the work next. As the app development team follows Agile methodology, the solution architect supports the team, guides the project at the implementation phase, and builds prototypes to recognize the tech limitations. At the same time, they create prototypes to diagnose tech limitations or start the product design.
Solution Architect Role:
- Recommending best practices for the entire solution.
- Associate with sales & technical teams converting their needs into results.
- Examine the project limitations to consider alternatives, process re-engineering, and reduce risks.
- Choose a technology stack and evaluate the resources.
- Comply with all the business & technical requirements.
- Designing solutions ideally matching with an enterprise environment.
Responsibilities of a Solution Architect
What does a solutions architect do? A Solution Architect is responsible for four main processes, they are:
Meet Functional requirements: All the business requirements specifying software’s functional requirements are met at this process. For instance, a mobile app must also include a few functions that work offline.
Meet Non-Functional requirements: Some non-functional requirements point toward how the software executes a particular action. For instance, the mobile app only supports native fonts.
Finalize Technology Stack: The approach of a Technical Architect relies directly on the solution architect’s technology stack. It has several frameworks, libraries, programming languages, databases, standards, and architectural patterns. A solution architect chooses tools that work best for a specific project, and they must possess the technical expertise to compare and access tools.
Deal with Project Limitations: Each project has some constraints; it could be money, licensing, or time risks. For instance, if you want a healthcare app, it must be HIPAA-compliant, or if it’s a streaming service app, it needs copyrights and content licenses. Such constraints significantly modify the project and can affect its time to market and the cost. And this is where a Solution Architect can be a savior, as they are well-versed with these constraints and offer ways to deal with the best.
What are the skillsets required for a Solution Architect?
Once you realize the solution architect job description in your app projects, it is time to hire a person for the role, and the core skills they must possess are:
Since the solutions architects align IT solutions successfully with the business objectives, they need to possess strong leadership & communication skills and technical & business knowledge. As a solutions architect, you must understand the organization’s business side to understand better which IT solutions best fit the company’s goals. Their leadership skills help navigate the process of recognizing key business objectives and determining requirements for each answer. They can have a degree in software engineering, computer science, information technology, or a related field. The senior roles might require more experience or education. As per their role, the Solution Architects need experience, particularly in IT areas, like customer service, development, networking administration, or other vital areas.
Popular technical skills required for Solution Architects consists:
- Big Data Analytics
- Software Development Lifecycle
- Data Management
- Apache Kafka
- AWS and Azure
- Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)
- SAP Business Warehouse
- Understanding of IT infrastructure, security, and governance
- Experience in IT architecture frameworks
- Experience with enterprise architecture
When is the expertise of a Solution Architect needed?
A Solution Architecture is introduced to the corporate structure by the software consulting firms when the process of integrating a new software system is not systematic. A solution architect is not needed for every project; when the business implements a single tech module that works in similar contexts, there is no need for a solution architect. Software engineering gets more complex and involves an increased number of processes & risks. Having a Solution Architecture on board can be greatly helpful. Here we present some cases where Solution Architects can help:
Usually, a business does not know the solutions that best fit the enterprise ecosystem. It is required to forge a link between existing enterprise architecture and a particular project. The solution architects offer a solution that meets the company environment’s standards. For instance, when a business moves several existing back-office processes to the cloud, a Solution architect analyses various options and suggests the most appropriate selections regarding financial, human, and technology resources.
Digital Transformation Project:
For a digital transformation project, businesses reconsider how they deliver value to the customers or what they will deliver eventually. It is impossible to answer these questions without linking the technology & business perspectives, and this is impossible without a Solution Architect.
Lots of Risks:
A project with many technology risks needs a solution architect. They help deal with the uncertain requirement that might emerge when multiple products are to be implemented at once, or underlying technologies are not yet approved.
To pitch a product roadmap to investors:
Solution Architects can significantly contribute to presenting a product roadmap to investors and stakeholders. They can suggest technologies that match product requirements and communicate the reasoning in clear business terms.
Set up communication between stakeholders and engineers:
Solution Architects help fill the communication gap between technical & non-technical specialists. When they collaborate with the project management team, solution architects cover risks of product misalignment with the stakeholder requirements, ensuring the solutions fit the defined purpose.
Several teams are involved in the project as an app is being developed. It can be a large project requiring a person to manage technical, business architect, or design teams to deliver quality technical project results. The solution architecture is the foundation for any IT project, irrespective of whether you adopt this solution. You can successfully build a framework that aligns technology, skills, and resources with clear business objectives by implementing solution architecture.
Why make a career as a Solution Architect?
A solutions architect is an ideal role for someone analytical, creative, pragmatic, outgoing, and can explain the problems and solutions on a technical as well as non-technical level. According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for a Solution Architect is $124,960, though it ranges from $91000 to $172000. As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the future is bright for computer network architects, and the employment opportunities might grow 5% from 2020 to 2030. And as companies constantly expand their information technology networks, the demand for solution architects is expected to increase.
How to become a Senior Solutions Architect?
The Solution Architects can come from various backgrounds, though some common degrees architects possess bachelor’s degrees in software information, computer science, and information technology. An MBA candidate in information systems can also be an ideal fit for a role as a Solution Architect. Most Solution Architects have a few years of experience in software development, so they get a strong understanding of the technologies and tools involved in developing solutions. Some even possess five to ten years of hands-on experience in network administration or information technology systems, but it varies according to what a specific business seeks.
Solution Architects are responsible for building and implementing IT systems architectures meeting set business requirements. Their role starts with gathering requirements, understanding specifications, evaluating systems in place, and working closely with the stakeholders to deliver the right solution.
In a general sense, the role of a solution architect is explaining business requirements to the development team and leading them to build a product able to solve real business problems effectively. It is a responsible position requiring a wide-ranging IT skillset & knowledge. Today, with enterprises relying on software & other emerging technologies, the role of solution architects will undoubtedly hold great value.