Changes in our world influence the sphere of technology and business. The stack of technologies that developers can choose gets wider every day, so the key question is no longer about how to build a solution but about how to deliver it most efficiently. 

A wrong choice can entail a waste of time and money, and lead to delays in the project progress. That’s why companies need a specialist who has all the information about the newest and most efficient techniques and can find an optimal technological stack in a particular situation. This is the job for a solution architect.

Solution architect and solution architecture: What does it mean?

It is necessary to distinguish a Solution Architect from Enterprise and Technical Architects.

The Enterprise Architect is engaged in solving strategically important company-wide tasks. The enterprise architecture determines what technological strategies to use and what approach to business architecture to choose. So, an enterprise architect is a wider concept than a solution architect.

The Technical Architect deals with the software architecture per se. They decide what should be the structure of the software to satisfy the technical requirements in the most efficient way. This means a technical architect has more limited responsibilities and competencies than a solution architect. 

The Solution Architect is in the middle between an enterprise architect and a technical architect. It is a specialist who oversees the transformation of business processes and ensures that the technical solution can make the business more efficient in a particular situation. Some companies provide solution architecture consulting as a special set of services for enterprises that do not have such in-house specialists.

The solution architecture describes how particular software workflows can help a company fulfill specific tasks and automate business processes. It is the link between the enterprise and technical architecture. It is optimal for the effective work of the company when all types of architecture are designed to achieve a synergistic effect.

Building a solution architecture implies the following:

  • Searching for the most suitable solution for business tasks;
  • Drawing up the structure and properties of the software for stakeholders;
  • Formulating requirements, stages, and features of the solution;
  • Preparing specifications for managing solution development. 

What does the solution architect do?

The quality of the solution architecture determines whether the team of developers will adhere to the budget and the schedule, and will the product match the stated requirements. Therefore, a solution architect has several responsibilities to ensure that the suggested architecture is optimal. 

Choose the most suitable option for a particular case 

A solution architect should know how a company’s processes work to choose an effective overall strategy for a particular case. They thoroughly analyze each situation, enterprise environment, workflows, and tools to come up with a software structure that can fit in the given case. 

Satisfy clients’ requirements

A solution architect monitors the adherence to customer requirements and provides timely information on current processes, deadlines, and budget. They also act as translators between the software development team and non-technical stakeholders.

Analyze constraints

The project can have several constraints that may apply to technologies, quality, resources, etc. Solution architects should strike a balance between constraints and goals. 

Choose the necessary technologies

The architect should pick the most effective option for a particular project after comparing different platforms, tools, and programming languages.

Meeting quality attributes

The solution architect should ensure that the product has the required attributes. The most popular ones include safety, efficiency, maintainability, scalability, usability, and reliability; they are also called non-functional requirements.

What qualities should a solution architect have?

A solution architect is involved in different technical and business processes, such as:

  • Examining the technology environment, enterprise peculiarities, and requirements;
  • Establishing efficient communication with the customer;
  • Delivering a solution prototype;
  • Choosing an appropriate technology stack;
  • Managing solution development.

To perform these tasks, it is essential to have certain skills and competencies.

Technical experience

Since solution architects interact with developers and managers, they should have experience in one or more spheres, such as engineering, software architecture design, business analytics, project management, and DevOps.

Communication skills

The position of a solution architect implies negotiations with the teams of developers, business analysts, enterprise architects, and stakeholders, that’s why they should be able to clearly explain their point of view. 

Analytical skills

Solution architects should know how different parts of enterprise work, including the business and technical levels, and how to achieve strategic goals using general resources. Analytical skills help a solution architect highlight key moments and make the right decision.

Project management training

A solution architect should manage the workflows of the project team and make decisions in  accordance with the clients’ requirements

When do you need architect solution consulting?

If you do not have the needed specialist in-house, in some cases, you can resort to a provider of solution architecture consulting. For example, this can be applicable in the case of integration of software systems, or when the project consists of multiple risky processes. There is also no need to single out a solution architect for similar projects.

Let’s review common cases in more detail.

Need for an optimal solution for your business ecosystem

A solution architect helps to integrate the new project into the enterprise architecture in accordance with the company’s standards. The architect will analyze several options and choose the most suitable technology and human resources.

Start of the digital transformation project

Digital transformation calls the company for the revision of what and how it gives to clients. 

That means the intertwining of technologies and business processes.

Risky project

You need a solution architect in projects with high-level technology risk, uncertain requirements when basic technologies are not approved by the customer, or several projects should be finished at the same time.

Presentation of the roadmap

If you need to present the roadmap to stakeholders or investors, a solution architect helps to find the best solution and transform technological data into clear words. 

Establishing communication

If communication is established properly,  there is no misunderstanding between technical and non-technical teams, and the development team can achieve the goal.

Large number of teams

If the project needs several teams of designers, technical specialists, and business analysts, you need a solution architect to manage them.

The solution architect is the person who can choose the most suitable approach to achieve business goals with the help of software technologies. Solution architects ensure constructive interaction between the development team and stakeholders, and help to define the most effective structure of the future software. If you want to develop a powerful system,  you will definitely need to find a competent solution architect