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16 Apr, 2024

What Is a Solution Architect in IT: A Detailed Review of the Most Sought-After Job

Imagine that one of your business needs is to implement a specific solution that could become groundbreaking. At this point, you are past the ideation stage: the concept and business model are put on paper, you’ve  hired a development team and a marketing crew, and you can financially allocate the required budget. However, there’s a catch. Who’s going to help you choose the latest technologies? Who’ll make sure the system design is scalable? Who’ll ensure the safety and security of the new system? It’s the solution architect role that covers all of this. 

What is a solution architect, and what does a solution architect do? In this blog post, we’ll explore the process of software engineering and dot all the i’s by basing things on industry standards. Join us!

Who Is a Solution Architect?

Let’s begin with the concept of software architecture. It is when technological solutions are designed, described, and managed to ensure they can match individual business requirements and needs. Here’s an example: Your future platform is going to accept, manage, and store huge sets of customer/client data. The core requirement for your solution is to be able to protect it – this is the business issue. 

To meet the requirements and solve the issue, your team has to develop a solution architecture to help your business decide on the technology and software type to build. In practice, it’s not the entire team of software developers who work out the architecture. It’s the role of a solution architect.

What is meant by a solution architect? This is a senior member of a development team who establishes the technical vision for a digital project, evaluates business processes and needs, and supports them with the technical architecture. Solution architects are middlemen between the team (technical) and the client (business). Knowing the languages of both sides, the solution architect assists in merging gaps between them. 

A solution architect is an invaluable part of any digital project. They are typically tasked with the most critical role in today’s software development world: they design, implement, support, grow, and are responsible for the most complex architectures.

In 2024, solution architects are in great demand:

  • From 2018 to 2028, the anticipated growth rate of solutions architect job titles will be 3%.
  • From 2023 to 2033, the projected number of new jobs for architects will reach 3,300. 
  • There are 107,000+ active job openings in the USA alone for this position.
  • In the USA alone, there are 153,000+ architects employed.

Understanding your business problems requires an architect. This is when business stakeholders have to deal with one of the following cases:

  • Your team has doubts regarding optimal technology solutions for the company’s digital environment.
  • There’s no link between a future project and the existing architecture of the enterprise.
  • You are focusing on a digital transformation of your business and need to have the value of your products and services reviewed.
  • You’re looking for ways to mitigate project risks and prevent emergencies that your non-technical stakeholders cannot foresee.
  • The project has technical and non-technical teams that find it difficult to work together, and you need a person who can become a bridge between them.
  • Your system is expected to have advanced functionality, and you need high-level control in addition to ordinary project management

An architect for your solution is a person with hands-on experience who can mitigate most risks and ensure that your software will serve across business units effectively and smoothly. 

What Are the Solution Architect Must-Have Skills?

If you don’t have a relevant technical person in-house, you should consider recruiting one before a single line of code is written. A proficient candidate should have a rich set of specific skills, including a deep understanding of software architecture, strong communication skills, business ​​perception, and technical leadership

The list of must-have technical skills for this role covers:

  • Knowledge about the life cycle of software development and solution delivery for different systems (mobile, web, cloud-based, client-server).
  • Profound knowledge of development platforms, modern technologies, and architectural models to design, describe, and implement solutions to meet business objectives.
  • Outstanding analytical and problem-solving skills, including the ability to examine and break down complex business, functional, and non-functional requirements and single out matching languages, libraries, servers, etc.
  • Robust interpersonal and communication solution architect skills are among the most sought-after. Architects ensure a connection between business and technical environments to effectively communicate with developers, CEOs, and other stakeholders.
  • Proficiency in working with cross-functional teams and collaborating with various departments to guarantee a productive development process.
  • Knowledge of the project manager’s work is one of the core skills for solution architects. This includes best practices and management tools that help them effectively coordinate the development process and team. 
  • A sharp eye for detail and dedication to ongoing project improvement, ensuring that the solution meets the security, scalability, and performance requirements.

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Roles and Responsibilities of a Solution Architect

Let’s check the roles and responsibilities of a solution architect in more detail. 

Solution Architect Roles

According to the solution architect description, the roles of this tech team expert vary depending on the industry they work in (architectures of fintech projects are totally different from those for healthcare, for example) and the type of organization. Here is a general list of roles:

  • Understanding and examining core and secondary business goals by working with end users and business stakeholders. 
  • Designing the architecture of technical solutions (software, hardware, network elements).
  • Measuring diverse technology options, the latest trends, and solution architect tools to define the best match for software systems
  • Guaranteeing solution trustworthiness and scalability to meet both current and future needs of a business.
  • Determining and handling technical and compliance risks to guarantee that the new digital project meets the requirements and standards of the business.
  • Communicating with business executives and stakeholders, software developers, and project managers to make sure all teams involved are on the same page.
  • Delivering post-deployment maintenance and support to troubleshoot issues and conduct necessary existing environment upgrades. 
  • Inspecting project boundaries and offering alternatives, reducing risks, and running process reengineering

Solution Architect Responsibilities

There are many key solution architect responsibilities that you need to pay attention to before hiring one. Below, see the overall list of what an architect is responsible for.

Understanding the Needs and Objectives of a Business

The number one responsibility of a software solution architect is to understand the business, its needs, objectives, and issues. With this, a good solution architect can build a solution that will align with the company’s goals and move them further. Their technical expertise and the ability to build relevant solutions make the architect an indispensable part of engineering teams

Coordinating with Stakeholders

Technical and business teams often lack understanding regarding project vision and implementation. A technical team speaks the language of code, libraries, and servers. They are focused on the process that leads to the result. A business team focuses only on the result and has little understanding of the code or architecture. They are more into closing business needs than considering how it should be done. Architects are intermediates between both teams. They adapt to and balance the interests of both, cultivating collaboration and ensuring seamless execution.

Analyzing Legacy Systems and Finding Ways for Improvements

It’s no secret that big enterprises are afraid to look into new software solutions, considering the age of their current systems and the huge amounts of data stored in them. Such systems serve across company units and departments, and switching to a new solution means inevitably disrupting the work of the whole company. System architects can analyze existing software, detect improvement areas, and list possible modifications that are usually implemented without process disruptions.

Write Technical Documentation and Drawing Diagrams

An architect must ensure the team’s and stakeholder’s clear understanding of the solution nuances. For this, an architect writes technical documentation. On the one hand, it gives a better picture of what the solution will be and how it’s going to operate. On the other hand, the documentation streamlines solution implementation and drives project success.

Supervising Software Implementation and Integration

An architect’s key responsibility is supervising the implementation of the overall technical vision of the solution and its integration. Solutions architects ensure a solution smoothly fits within the enterprise architecture and fulfills the objectives. The architect participates in realizing planned outcomes and offers guidance throughout the development process.

Estimating Outcomes

It’s the architect’s responsibility to estimate outcomes. For this, they analyze diverse aspects, including project timelines, predicted returns, budget, etc. They also combine a thorough knowledge of the solution’s potential and feasibility. Through estimation, they safeguard the whole project and ensure it remains within the time and cost constraints while still aligning with the business’s strategic objectives. 

How to Become a Solution Architect

There’s no one-size-fits-all career path for a solution architect. Most future architects begin with a software engineering or project management environment, where they learn the basics, develop needed skills, and proceed with their careers. 

It requires a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and Systems, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Electrical Engineering. However, one can also earn a Master’s degree without first earning a Bachelor’s degree. This requires a strong professional background, equivalent experience, and credentials. 

A future solution architect should have 6+ years of practical experience across domains (real estate, healthcare, fintech, e-commerce, etc.) and work experience as an informational systems expert or a network administrator. For a faster solution architect career path, it would be good to have an MBA in IT.

In practice, people with 5–10 years of hands-on experience in IT and the knowledge of tools for solution architects can pursue a role as solution architect (SA). 

Note: Even with relevant experience, joining fintech or healthcare projects may be complicated because of their complexity and very strict requirements. Those pursuing an SA role start off with e-learning software architecture and tech stack for real estate and e-commerce projects. 

Bottom Line

SAs always bring the expertise to solve business problems and match current objectives. They know how to optimize legacy systems, write technical documentation, coordinate a product team and stakeholders, choose a matching technology stack, oversee the implementation process, and foresee issues. The role of a solution architect is instrumental. It leads to building the solution that helps achieve goals within the timelines and budgets. 

If you are looking for a development team managed by a solution architect, contact our representative. Let’s discuss your business objectives and how we can help you reach them. 

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