Solutions architect and its role for IT-business alignment
For businesses and IT solution providers, it is often difficult to be on the same page due to a lack of understanding of how the technology impacts the specific metrics that are interesting and important for businesses. The main task of the solution architect is to design the system and demonstrate to the client how the technology can improve their business.
In this article, we have explained a solution architect's role, described his core responsibilities and competencies.
Who is a solutions architect
The solutions architect focuses on analysis of business goals and provides the impact of IT-solutions on the outcomes.
Creating a solution architecture is a complex and resource-intensive task. A developer or project manager can't give the desired result due to the lack of expertise and time for implementation. The correct approach would be to have an individual team member who is experienced enough and has no other responsibilities. The knowledge of technology is just as important for this specialist as a deep understanding of all business processes. In other words, the solutions architect is a bridge between business goals and technology implementation, connecting business stakeholders and engineering teams of the project.
The solution architect's aims to ensure that all the stakeholders' requirements are taken into account, for what the following tasks are performed:
- Identify areas where business needs support, present how technology can be applied, and provide the best technical solution for it;
- Define features, development phases, and solution requirements;
- Estimate the budget and time to market and provide specifications according to which the solution is defined, will be managed and delivered.
Solution architect responsibilities
A well-designed solution architecture plays a central role in a successful implementation of a new technology solution. Such architecture development is a complex process that brings transparency and bridges business challenges and technology solutions.
“In order for business and management to see the opportunities to apply technology, you need a real geek who will explain to them what the benefits are and how it can be done.” Roman Shramkov
The solution architect should work out a technical concept of a product to show how it will meet business needs, and further present it to the development team.
We have presented some of the main responsibilities of a solutions architect:
- Lay the foundation and lead integration of IT systems, considering how the solution will fit other software solutions either being developed or already existing within the enterprise ecosystem, which includes the ability to interface with legacy equipment and environments;
- Evaluate constraints like time, budget, personnel, internal and external risks to find alternatives, alleviate risks, and make sure the described solution proves to be consistent and meets all the necessary requirements;
- Determine the most suitable technology for a specific project, including programming languages, frameworks, databases, and tools;
- Ensure that all stakeholders' requirements are taken into account, regularly inform them about product development processes, costs, and budget;
- Communicate with developers by translating the design concept into IT operations, being a pipeline between two business and technology ends.
Enterprise architect, solutions architect, and technical architect. What is the difference?
The set of skills and experiences that define each of these architectural roles may seem interchangeable, however, they vary across the spectrum of expertise. In this block, we are going to define the three primary architects, their main responsibilities and differences.
It's an in-house role where a specialist makes high-level decisions about IT infrastructure, designing it from scratch or leading large-scale digital transformation projects. Such people construct the high-level vision of the implementation and ensure the solution adheres to the company's goals, regulations, and policies. Although the enterprise architects often have a more technical background, they rely on both solutions and technical architects to implement a project.
Maintains a deep understanding of all critical business and technical requirements. This person is knowledgeable of the systems and processes, leads the technical architects, and defines the broad technical design of the key architecture components for the enterprise solution. The specialist acts as a link between all key business stakeholders and platform engineering teams of the project.
This specialist has in-depth knowledge within a particular domain and is responsible for the technical structure of the project - create architectural approaches for software design, proper project implementation and guide the development team. These activities include designing, implementing, and maintaining the networks, security, communications, and hardware needed to reach long-term technical goals.
What a good solution architect should be
A solution architect should have strong technical knowledge, a wide outlook, and experience in leading a team or project. A good SA should have a knowledge of the business structure and its internal processes in order to offer the best solution to optimize them or implement a new one in the existing infrastructure.
In this block, we have gathered the most important skills the specialist needs to have:
While most of these responsibilities require a leadership role from a solution architect, this person just supports PM activities to ensure that resources, risk recognition, and planning stay aligned with the solution goals.
Deep analytical skills.
For a solutions architect, strategic and analytical thinking are just as important as technical and soft skills. The SA must be able to recognise and understand corporate strategy and existing business processes to have a better picture of the company regarding its business outcomes.
Risk identification and management.
A solution architect should know how to evaluate potential short-term and long-term risks that may lead to technical issues and impede future business operations and how to manage them in the product development process.
Communication and collaboration are essential for any project success and excellent communication skills are a must for solutions architects, as they are the link between a client and project team. The solutions architect must be capable of communicating clearly the technical aspects, risks, challenges, and benefits of a solution as well as working with a development team to ensure the solution is designed to meet business needs.
For solution architects, the business side of the product matters as much as the technical side. They should have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in information technology, computer science, software engineering, or a related field, as well as practical experience of at least several years in software development process and hardware engineering. Coding experience may help them better understand the development team’s needs.
As a solutions architect, a specialist should be certified in any relevant skill or technology for your industry or field. They may have such certifications:
- AWS certified solution architect
- Microsoft certified solutions expert
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional - Architecture (CISSP)
- Google professional cloud architect
According to PayScale data, the most popular technical skills which effect on salary are:
- SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW)
- Database Administration
- Apache Kafka
- Software Development LifeCycle (SDLC)
- Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)
- IT Security & Infrastructure
- Mobile applications development
- Data Management
The most experienced solutions architect in our company is Andrey Pankov. Being a CTO, he at the moment oversees all aspects of future systems design. His rich development experience and deep understanding of the inner structure of businesses allows Twelvedevs to speak the same language with clients, providing the most suitable solutions.
How much a solution architect earns
The Solution architect has become one of the hottest jobs in IT right now, with high salaries and plenty of vacancies. Talented solution architects are in huge demand all over the country.
According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for such specialists is $118,026, not including cash bonus, commission, tips, and profit sharing.
The salary ranges from about $99,463 to $179,309, where figures vary depending on such factors as education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years spent in the profession as well as the region.
As powered by ERI's Salary Expert Database, the average annual salary potential will reach $151,822 in 2027.
Why need a solutions architect for your project
If you are implementing minor application modifications or integrating small-scale modules, you probably don’t need to worry about solution architecture so much. You definitely need a solutions architect when the technologies used are not serving the business goals anymore, if you aim at enterprise-level solutions or want to grow your existing product.
Here are the most popular cases when you need to attract a solutions architect:
- You don’t know which solution fits the enterprise ecosystem and how to do it;
- You need to show a product roadmap to investors with a full plan of future software and technologies used;
- You face a lot of risks associated with rebuilding infrastructure or something more large-scale to ensure business continuity when its optimization is planned.
No matter what industry you’re working in, a solutions architect will help you build and implement software systems that meet critical business requirements. They are responsible for finding out the best possible way to bring together business needs and technological solutions and help achieve the company's goals.
Solution architects bridge communication between IT and business operations to provide alignment in developing and implementing technical solutions.
Contact us to find out what technical solution you need and how it will improve your business.
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