Processes and systems that worked for a company during its infancy may not be efficient at later stages of company growth, and it is the job of a solutions architect to design a remedy for that inefficiency.
Although the skills of solutions architects have value across a number of disciplines, these professionals are most often employed within system or software development teams, and the results of their work usually culminate in new technology installations or upgrades.
Here are some specific activities of solutions architects as well as the academic and professional experiences that an information technology (IT) professional usually needs to enter the career field.
Job Functions and Responsibilities
Corporate leaders tap solutions architects when they identify systems that do not satisfy their current business requirements. Since those business needs link back to the company’s overall strategic objectives, senior management has justification to create projects that address the faulty systems. Solutions architects use the system and functional requirements to come up with remedies that best fit their organizations. These IT professionals must understand the company’s strategic goals, its enterprise architecture, company processes, its culture and the latest technology that is available on the market.
A prudent solutions architect does not choose to create or modify a system because they want the opportunity to use a new technology. They develop visions that may involve a mix of technological changes as well as non materiel solutions such as modifications to processes or procedures. These visions are documented through the use of Unified Modeling Language diagrams that depict the system’s proposed activities and how it integrates with other systems within the overall enterprise architecture. The industry standard diagrams are what development teams use to generate code or build systems.
Education and Training
Systems architects are usually not junior IT professionals or developers. They generally have undergraduate degrees in computer science, information technology or an engineering discipline. Many solutions architects also have advanced degrees in systems engineering, computer science or engineering management.
While these seasoned IT professionals may have picked up throughout the years a number of certifications that verify their competency for particular technology products, they usually learn about so many new products that gaining certifications in them all becomes impractical.
Solutions architects typically hold a number of positions within software or system development teams before they land leadership roles as architects. Many start out as software developers, testers and even requirements analysts. They most likely have held project manager roles several times in their careers before becoming solutions architects. The experiences that they received from these jobs provide the context for the solutions that they propose as architects later in their careers.
Job Profile and Getting Noticed for the Position
The Bureau of Labor Statistics relates the job of solutions architects to those of computer network architects, and these jobs are expected to grow faster than the average for all positions surveyed by the agency. Many labor experts warn job seekers of competition from foreign sources as employers pick and choose from IT professionals that are based around the world. However, globalization also creates opportunities for experienced professionals to extend their reach beyond the domestic labor market and to work on interesting projects overseas.
There are a number of things that can block the successful completion of system or software development projects. Poorly defined or incomplete requirements, mismanaged client expectations and technical components that just do not work as advertised are only a few of those things. The solutions architect holds a leadership role on the development team and is ultimately responsible for the final deliverable to the client no matter what challenges the team faces.