What are the qualities of a Solution Architect ?

 

So you want to transition from what you are doing to a role that helps you see customer solutions. There are many solutions for a given problem which one suits the solution the best given the customer context.Most often the tendency is to straight away jump to a problem and start solving it rather than step back and look at the big picture.

So what does the good solution architects have in common.

They are good at communication, good technical  / business background, have a breadth of experience across a spectrum of an area of the industry pie, have an appetite for plugging risk , they can see the high level picture as well go down to the nuts and bolts when needed, they are visionaries , stand for the proposed solution by backing it with a proper rationale and more importantly life long learners.

Here is leaving you with an article that has these thoughts on how to become a solution architect or be better at it if you are already one.

What make a good solution architect ?

What has been your experience that you find is missing among the architect community and what skills are needed to help them look good in front of their peers , stakeholders and customers ?.

Where does the Solution Architect fit in an Enterprise?

Most often get to hear where does a Solution Architect fit into the overall hierarchy of an enterprise.People often confuse this with the role of an Enterprise Architect and some of them want to be better at Solution Architecture and move up being an Enterprise Architecture.

In an organization context when you are going from Strategy to Execution then it becomes imperative to understand what are the layers in this process,

Typically it shall be going from
Contextual —-> Conceptual —–> Logical ——> Physical.

As can be seen in the picture attached the Solution Architect is pegged at a layer between the conceptual and logical layers of the strategy to execution process. And the Enterprise Architect is mostly at the contextual layer where business problems are present at a particular context.

If you are wanting to better at Architecture and being Agile at the same time and such resources shall help you keep updated with resources for architects. Do send a mail to maileturnti@eturnti.com with subject Subscribe.

Togaf Trainings and Consulting : http://eturnti.us7.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=171856f3ca74842f465089b2b&id=67c266dd99&e=3d9b3ab567

Solution Architect Training :    http://eturnti.us7.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=171856f3ca74842f465089b2b&id=600fe9d5d3&e=3d9b3ab567

Agile Architecture Trainings : Mixing Agility with Architecture   http://eturnti.us7.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=171856f3ca74842f465089b2b&id=600fe9d5d3&e=3d9b3ab567

Want to be a better Solution Architect ?

 

Most people undertake a Course or Certification when they are in between jobs or are looking to test the waters on their market potential. A certification kinda of validates that need as you are better off from the herd when you have that certification. But a certification alone will not help you to get there. Most concerns of people wanting to play the role of an architect would be .

1. I have played various roles but have not been officially given an architect title in the company . How should I move into one ?
2. I have all along been into lead roles / managing projects and delivery but never played the role of an architect in a project.
3. I have worked along side different architects and have seen project / delivery folks donning architecture roles . Can I do the same for my career progression ?
4. You want a role change having been a manager for many years now you want to see the other side .
5. You have got your hands dirty with having worked on many different products and solutions and now want to spend time architecting with the customer in mind as you better understand product and solutions.
6. You have been all along working alongside products and solutions and now can better steps into the shoes of a customer to understand what they need ?
7. You want to apply all that you know regarding a domain but are not customer facing to be able to influence and add value to the final architecture ?
8. Are you in the midst of all the above kinds of queries ?

Want to read more such architect snippets like these please mail on maileturnti@eturnti.com to subscribe.

Enterprise Continuum as a part of TOGAF helps innovating at intersections fun…

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What is common with Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg both of them have being huge successes in what they offered to the world. They stand for make a dent in the Universe and yes they did it. If you see both of them they did play at intersections and ended up disrupting more than one industry. Steve Jobs combined design and technology and made owing hardware akin to buy vintage art or jewelry. Before him people had given up on hardware which was not good looking and aesthetic, he created awe inspiring products by combining design and technology. Similar is Facebook which combines social and technology to have connected almost all of the world.

Like wise it is when it play at intersections you have multiple opportunities of disrupting more than one field. Likewise when you see many fintech start-ups they are all playing at various intersections.

You have banking intersecting payments.

Payments intersecting retails

Payments intersecting travel

Payments intersecting eCommerce

Loan industry intersecting real estate

CRM industry intersecting credit card industry

Hospitality industry intersects Banking

The list is endless and the possibilities are very many. Playing at intersections has more than one advantage as you are exposed to ideas which flower and cross pollinate when they collide with other ideas and give birth to fresh new design and offerings. This is not possible when you work in isolation in one area. Most often these work best when not compartmentalized in siloed states , they need a continuum or an ecosystem where all people involved in the value chain to the end customer are brought on the same table and it can lead to fusion and myriad colour all coming together.

Enterprise Continuum from the Open Group is one such initiative that aims at connecting the buyer, seller and the internal teams of a value chain together if you were to look at it from Michael Porters famous value chain. This continuum has enabled many an industry to stay connected with their entire ecosystem such as partners , sellers and their own teams delivering on many mandates. One such example of how this would work in practice would be let’s take the example of a Salesforce team which has many partners that it is depended on it and all such information relevant and shareable to both parties will be made available. This means all that can be shared preserving all IP and NDA issues shall be made seamlessly available to both connected parties across the board with the same level of understanding in taxonomy and jargons which bring all parties in an engagement on the same level. The Enterprise Continuum takes this further and extends it to have internal teams , partners and vendors all on this connected platform. Once this clarity is there in the ecosystem it becomes easy to build, integrate, brainstorm, enhance or do anything is required for the moment. This might sound utopian but if implemented well with the support of a visionary leader, it has the power to transform most issues arising out of working in silos across industries.

Dow went from being a Inorganic company to being an Organic Company to being a plastics company to being a food company. These are not simple transformations or transitions. Now they are embracing the culture of innovating at intersections at the intersections of material science , biological science and physics.

Why Enterprise Continuum of TOGAF Amidst Of All This Talk of Innovation ?

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Enterprise Continuum from the Open Group is quote “The Enterprise Continuum provides methods for classifying architecture and solution artifacts, both internal and external to the Architecture Repository, as they evolve from generic Foundation Architectures to Organization-Specific Architectures.”.

In short the above diagram shows how a company can go about organizing its organization artifacts from generic to specific. The more you move towards foundation architectures it would be generic and the more one moves towards the right towards organization specific architectures you narrow down the scope and genericity. The diagram has both architectural and solution assets which allows for abstraction from logical to physical which is fundamental to good architectural work. As you can see a company or organization can starts it journey by beginning with Foundation Architectures and move towards Common Systems Architecture where you have narrowed down your architecture from blue sky generic architecture where the scope of building the most generic architecture is toned down to concentrating on the core domain de-scoping the operating systems and network architecture portions of the same. Now you focus on the industry that you are working on and store industry specific architecture in the industry architecture section. Let’s say you are a developing a banking software then all the other industries that you closely work with such as CRM , Payments , Retail , Financial Services, regulatory services, credit cards will find a place in the industry architecture section. But your focus in the year one of architecture / product development shall be only on building banking software which happens to your core focus area. Again you as a company keeping adding features to your core product, you will refer back to the industry specific architectures to add differentiators in your core product. When you are marrying a core banking product with a payments feature then you potentially refer to the industry specific architectures section of your enterprise continuum and then pick the relevant architectures and go about building your feature. Now this is a value add that Enterprise Continuum brings to the table where you as an organization developing a product also refers to architectures specific to your industry and this can help you in innovating at intersections.

Have such an integrated concept for knowledge and artifacts managements can go a long way in helping a company with innovation at intersections. This means you can work along side product, industry boundaries and if done well you are poised to disrupting more than one industry. Enterprise Continuum also can be created for your specific needs and reflects your journey and what artifacts you as an organization is interested in and help you go back and forth and exploit potential innovation that can happen at boundaries.

Open Group has a extension of this concept where industry specific artifacts for oil and gas, telecom, mining, supply chain are available and companies can become members and look at what is of interest to them by being part of the community and benefit from the same.

They say it is fun “Innovating at Intersections” Enterprise Continuum of TOGAF has an answer to this.  Would love to hear your thoughts on the same.

 

There are no Pit Stops In Enterprise Transformations really ?

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IT Transformation , Digital Transformation , Keeping Your Lights ON while you make changes to your bread winner applications in the Enterprise, move certain others to the cloud, rework on your SMAC strategy, going digital, change your tires while your speeding Enterprise needs to overhaul itself at the same time needs to keep moving and least not loose time at a pit stop.While all of these sound easy to write about but when faced with the challenge of turning your enterprise around , you need a mindset, culture , appropriate tools, talented people who understand the nuances of the change , tools required and how to go about it.

Firstly Mindset : You need to know that people need to change the way they think about the they are standing on a burning bridge with water beneath if you were to borrow a line from the Nokia chief’s mail to its employees. Unless people perceive it this way change is difficult to force it down their throats. Fluidity in all process and people boundaries such that people can reach out and interact with folks across their immediate process lines. This needs a mindset change which can happen when their is strong management support towards moving away from silos and encouraging decentralization.

Be Proactive ALWAYS – Look at the windscreen and not often at the rear view mirror

Usual mindset is look at time, money , resources and progress once you have finished your product or solution. Instead create a pro active process measurement and improvement dashboard where you are measuring everything while moving instead of reflecting when it is all over. This is process independent and no matter which agile methodology you use or which project / process framework you are currently executing. The idea to embed metrics in your journey can be right from the beginning where you look at

1. Review all internal process.

2. Requirements stability

3. Change Management processes

4. Your speed of execution , ability to close projects / activities within time and budget.

5. What market forces are currently influencing your product / solution.

Once you start improving these factors then your outcomes or business results follow on account of these steps or measures.

Tools at the Pitstop

One of the ways to capture these would be to implement a balanced scorecard.

Digital flexibility: 

This key skill would mean how often are you ready to change gears midway and skill / re-skill yourselves when you hit transformation roadblocks.

Integrated Operations data : Ability to respond to complex process data and act on them in real time when transformation is underway.

Experimentation and POC hotbeds : Ability to rapidly experiment test beds where simultaneous low cost fail fast experiments and proof of concepts can be carried out and more importantly reduce the cost of failure.

Data driven decision making : Put check and capture data of all kinds which can be useful to driving change and arrive at decision based on those.

Eliminate , Eliminate all kinds of communication barriers across teams. How do you stop one . Meet review and action on the points that are found as causing delays. Delays can be anything from waiting for snacks in queue in the evening to not getting appropriate sign-offs in time. Teams working on agile communicating with non agile or semi agile waterfall teams can slow things down. Use your own process tailoring to get across these barriers.

Promote quicker decision making using the following concept decentralize implementation and centralize interoperability

Wiping the dust off the screen , spare tires and everything in between.Re work on your strategy when there is a downtime .

What to do when others are racing as hard as you as well.

1. Remember what you are transforming is not only a technology issue and see it is as a business problem and technology is a leverage. Most often companies do not learn

2.  Always eat a part of the pie instead of full fledged transformation on all cylinders. It is nice to say we are changing the whole machinery while the vehicle is moving instead it is better to change the parts one at a time. It is not easy in a large transformation program but things become much easy to test waters when strategy is broken down to segment and then to the solution level. Let’s say 5 competing product lines are ready for transformation and then out of them only 3 are handpicked for transformation , then out of these 3 pick 10 % functionality and iterate and continue this till you can increase your velocity.

3. Get people to meet the change agents often instead of hanging organization change mandates across the hallway, coffee stations , places where your resources spend most time. Else they end up being fodder for light banter during coffee breaks. Strategy should be de-centralized and no one person’s or team’s prerogative to succeed. And communicate , live them day in and day out instead of them being poster board material.

4. Setup innovation and design thinking workshops across the length and breadth of the organization for people to go about doing there jobs with more fun and independence at what they are doing. Do this when during happy days and not so happy days in the company. Make this part of your core routines then it becomes easy to flex think and act nimble.

This is not the full list of course would love to hear from you on what points went to your refueling enterprise journeys.

Image credit : pixabay