The solution architect’s project management role

The solution architect is an innovator, designer and standard setter who plays a key role in formulating IT solutions. Widespread adoption of project mode management over the past few years has altered and refined this role, as described in the following four-step overview.

Enterprise, application, technological and data architects are each involved in designing all or part of the overall solution. This means the architect is involved in all four project phases—feasibility, start-up, design and deployment.

  1. Feasibility

This phase is critical, because it determines whether or not the project will launch. Solution architects are in high demand here and their work at this stage represents 40% of their overall contributions to the project.

The architect must understand the client’s business needs and technical constraints, while evaluating existing solutions. The architect’s innovative mindset and technological knowledge, accompanied by the ability to listen and analyze, are of great value.

Different scenarios will subsequently be eliminated in conjunction with representatives or promoters of the company’s business lines. The technical solution under consideration is then discussed with the project manager to estimate costs and timelines.

  1. Start-up

Once a go-ahead is given, the solution architect identifies the skills needed and resources available for the technical portion. Any recruitment will take place at this stage.

The architect also defines and establishes rules and standards based on the company’s architecture and industry best practices. About 30% of the architect’s work on the project takes place here.

  1. Design

The project is now in full swing. Development, test and integration teams are created. This is where the architect must demonstrate the solution’s value and guide tech leads in its construction.

The architect also oversees the teams’ compliance with rules, standards and architecture documentation (standards, strategy, integration diagrams, data models, etc.). This stage represents 25% of his or her efforts.

  1. Deployment

Once the solution is ready to be deployed, the architect’s expertise is still required to tweak the project in response to any issues that may arise. Gradual and big-bang deployments, for example, do not have the same characteristics.

During this phase, the architect will also provide the application support group with directives on standards. This stage requires 5% of the solution architect’s total work.

As we have seen, the architect’s technical and conceptual know-how, as well as his or her analytical acumen and communication skills, are crucial. Not having a project architect could cause problems in the design phase—as well as in motivating the technical teams. Finally, the project manager and architect have every incentive to work hand-in-hand.

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