Being a solution architect is simultaneously one of the most fulfilling and challenging positions in the software development lifecycle.
You serve as the bridge that connects everything together.
You must champion customer expectations, acknowledge and support the development team’s needs, and be aware of overarching enterprise architectures and strategies.
Sure, that sounds easy.
You are constantly pulled in a million directions and pressed for time and attention as a result.
Unsurprisingly, you are also always on the lookout for ways to improve efficiency, eliminate wasted efforts, and — most importantly — deliver better results for your customer. And the demands placed on you and the criticality of your task in an always-on, experience-led economy are enormous and growing.
However, the constant pressure and unrelenting workload leave you hard-pressed to do much more than just get through another day.
But what if there was a tool that could help you achieve that mythical mix of less waste, greater efficiency, and better outcomes?
The good news is that the tools you and your organization may already use for broader enterprise architecture (EA) tasks can also help you accelerate your workflow and deliver better business outcomes.
While this use of EA tools for solution architecture activities may not be intuitive because of the difference in scope and scale, the fundamental problems that EA tools solve translate surprisingly well to the needs of solution architects.
For instance, one of the primary objectives of EA tools is to create a common language and repository of artifacts to ensure that teams can communicate clearly and collaborate effortlessly. While the scope is different, you have similar challenges.
Likewise, the solution architecture process results in information-dense deliverables that require context and the ability to fluidly see any piece of content in that context. It’s the same situation in enterprise architecture. As a result, EA tools excel at providing just this contextualization of information-dense content.
The irony is that while the discipline of solution architecture is all about assembling a system to solve a user’s specific business needs, the solution architect is left to develop that architecture using simplistic and often disjointed tools.
While in a slower-moving world, this may have been sustainable. It no longer is — and using EA tools, it needn’t be the case.
The extensibility of modern enterprise architecture tools has transformed them from static repositories into dynamic data stores. And it is that newfound dynamic nature that can help you transform your workflow and increase your throughput.
For example, modern tooling can automatically discover and enrich your current-state architecture, making it easier to complete impact analysis and scenario planning activities.
Likewise, once the tool has discovered your current architecture, you can use it as a tactical exploratory tool to assess new solution needs, options, and opportunities.
However, the transformation of your day-to-day workflow goes beyond simply identifying and exposing data. The ability of some modern EA tools to create metamodel-based templates can be a powerful enabler that reduces repetitive tasks. Establishing a set of templates and guidance will enable you to reuse content to rapidly iterate and deliver new solution architectures without starting from scratch and introducing increased error probability.
And the best EA tools will support the most common design frameworks (e.g., C4, Arc42, Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, etc.) out of the box and let you include your own design patterns and frameworks as standard templates.
Perhaps most importantly, some modern EA tools now include automated review and approval workflows, allowing you to simplify and better control your process.
These tools allow for flexible automation of your review and approval workflow and enable you to collect feedback along the way, permit collaborative development during the review process, and store artifacts in a centrally managed repository for archiving and compliance purposes.
Ultimately, the application of EA tools to the needs of the solution architect enables the fundamental transformation of your workflow to reduce wasted effort and improve efficiency across the board.
There’s no question that applying EA tools to your work will make your life easier and your function more efficient.
But that’s not even the best reason you should consider incorporating them into your workflow.
The reality is that the most important thing isn’t to make your life easier, but to deliver better results for your customers by architecting the best solution possible.
The good news is that not only are these two objectives not mutually exclusive, but when approached correctly, you can achieve them simultaneously. The very functions of modern EA tools, such as Bizzdesign’s solution which is specifically developed for Solution Architects, named Solution Architecture Management, is that enable you to transform your workflow and make it more efficient, also naturally lead you to deliver better outcomes.
The reduction of wasted effort provides you more time to spend on meaningful activities. Better collaboration and automated feedback capture ensure that the best ideas get surfaced. And automated discovery, automated workflows, and the use of templates help to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks leading to unexpected adverse outcomes.
It is the proverbial win-win — your life gets easier, and your solutions get better.
And all using tools that already exist and are just waiting for you to adapt them to your needs.
Copyright © Intellyx LLC. BiZZdesign is an Intellyx client. None of the other companies mentioned in this article are Intellyx clients. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this paper.