I have been thinking about some of the qualities that make up good solution architects. I believe I’ve come up with a short list of the best qualities to expect from a solution architect. This list is not exhaustive, but it does outline critical traits that are important from an architecture perspective to help ensure successful IT solution delivery.
My experience as an independent IT consultant working with my own firm delivering solution architecture for customers has helped me shape my own skill set and hone in on what I believe are the key traits that companies should also look for in IT consultants being contracted for solution architecture delivery. Ensuring you are engaging the right “contract for services” consultant may be difficult, but with a little due diligence you should be considering the following attributes as well as ensuring the firm and consultant in question have a solid history of successful solution architecture delivery.
So, here is my list. I welcome any feedback.
- Leadership – Successful architect consultants are leaders. They instil confidence by demonstrating technical leadership, communication skills (written and verbal), confidence in their work and the solution, always learning, fighting for change and evolution in how we think about and deliver the solution and architecture. They identify problems in delivery and fight for effective approaches. They collaborate, and ensure consistent messaging and continually ensure alignment on all facets of solution delivery.
- Creates a Vision and Ensures Alignment – Successful architect consultants ensure solutions are aligned to EA target states & capabilities, the needs of the business (current/future), governance, project constraints, technical constraints, and ensure non-functional requirements are accounted for. The get the team (delivery team, sponsors, and stakeholders) aligned with the architectural vision and ensure that the actual solution delivery is inline with the intended architecture. They ensuring their decisions are backed up with reasonable evidence, justification, and documentation.
- Owns It and Takes Accountability – Successful architect consultants own their delivery and take accountability for all facets of the solution architecture, it’s fit, and it’s alignment. Consultants are to be made accountable for the successful delivery and are responsible and take ownership of how the work is done and is delivered.
- Makes Excellent Significant Decisions – Successful architect consultants are able to confidently make significant decisions. They understand the important significant decisions vs decisions with less importance and less impact on the overall solution and they know how to prioritize them. They allocate more time and effort to those things which are significant while understanding which decisions are easier to change later. They know when and how to deviate from and make compromise to decisions and architecture when required.
- Excellent Technical Capability – Successful architect consultants demonstrate technical aptitude and ensure that it is applied to the solution architecture. They demonstrate senior level technical ability while meeting with stakeholders and team members with the ability to provide technical leadership and work directly with the team on the most important technical aspects or problems they are experiencing.
- Speed – Successful architect consultants know their clients’ time is valuable and they ensure they provide a fast cadence on delivery without sacrificing quality. As they are constantly faced with new and challenging environments with difference client projects, they have seen and experienced a lot, worked with a very large variety of different types of people, and have developed skills to learn the client’s business, needs, current state, and goals, very quickly.