Solution architecture documentation

Written by
Reviewed by
Joe Ewing
Joe Ewing


Solution architecture documentation resource center

Learn how collaboration is key between solution and enterprise architects to break down siloed approaches that hinder progress.

1. Introduction

This article promotes collaboration between solution and enterprise architects to break down siloed approaches that hinder progress. When these two roles work together, you can shape products and strategies more effectively, leading to well-informed decision-making and balancing the traditional levers of time, risk, and financial resources.

This collaborative effort enhances the quality and impact of solution architecture deliverables, primarily when documentation is generated in an enterprise architecture tool. Enterprise architecture tools are designed to establish a common language and a centralized repository of artefacts, facilitating clear communication and effortless collaboration among teams.

2. What is a solution architecture template?

Solution architecture documentation describes the architecture of a particular solution. An enterprise, for example, might have a document detailing the solution architecture for a new internal software platform. This could include diagrams illustrating how different system components (databases, servers, microservices, etc.) interact, how data flows through the system, and how the system will scale with increasing demand.

It is also important to consider the broader stakeholders within an organization, such as Service Management, Project Delivery and Security. Given increasing security demands and the shift to Secure by Design thinking, these concerns are increasingly forming an integral part of solution architecture documentation.

Consistent documentation that is pre-agreed with all stakeholders is critical to timely and effective solution development. A balance must be struck between the competing factors of speed/ agility and robust and thorough documentation. On top of this, external pressures such as regulatory compliance may demand key pieces of information in architecture design documents.

DOWNLOAD: Gartner, Inc’s Tool: Solution Architecture Document Template

A solution architecture document (e.g., a High-Level Design) template typically includes several sections that cover different aspects of the solution architecture [1,3]. These sections may include:

  • Introduction: Provides an overview of the solution, its purpose, and the business goals it aims to achieve.
  • Architecture Overview: Describes the high-level architecture of the solution, including its key components, interfaces, and interactions.
  • Principles and Requirements Compliance: Outlines the adherence (or exceptions) to the architecture principles defined for the organization. Also, it is important to reference the requirements outlined for the specific project to which the solution relates.
  • Technology Architecture: Lists the technologies, platforms, and tools that will be used to implement the solution.
  • Data Architecture: Describes the structure, storage, and management of data within the solution, including databases, data models, and data integration.
  • Integration Architecture: Defines how the solution will integrate with other systems, both internal and external, and outlines the protocols, interfaces, and data formats to be used.
  • Security Architecture: Outlines the security measures and controls that will be implemented to protect the solution and its data.
  • Deployment Approach: Details the sequence and order of operations to deploy and run the solution, including the technical and business changes.
  • Risks and Mitigation Strategies: Identifies potential risks and provides strategies to mitigate them, ensuring the solution is robust and resilient.

Solution and enterprise architects

3. Solution architecture documentation in an enterprise architecture tool

Within an enterprise architecture tool, solution architecture documentation is professionalized by creating a standard solution template that can be used across many projects. This document is created in collaboration with different teams to meet everyone’s needs and effectively communicate the vision to the business and IT project teams. The creation of key diagrams and documents forms part of a larger set of repeatable governance tasks that take a project from inception to implementation.

This repeatable process is typically derived from a structured framework that simplifies the architecture modeling and review process. It’s beneficial for architects and reviewers who may not be deeply familiar with the intricate details of solution design but also the wider business context. This framework should provide a clear, step-by-step guide for architects to develop solutions.

Watch: How Ameren uses repeatable processes to facilitate discussions

Powerful tooling will support architects through every stage of the process. Including from inception, where projects can be set-up and the relevant template or templates are made available. As the project progresses, the process offers tools to monitor and manage its development. It tracks the project’s completion, allowing a clear view of progress. Additionally, it maintains a record of the review process, including information on who is reviewing the outputs and the current status of approvals. This system ensures a streamlined and efficient approach to architectural modeling, making it accessible and manageable, even for those less experienced in complex business design.

Solution architecture documentation

(Source) Enterprise architecture tool Bizzdesign Horizzon includes an out-of-the-box Solution Architecture Coach enabling solution architects to follow a structured process for creating and communicating solution architecture designs. 

RELATED WIKI: Enterprise architecture tools

4. Importance of a solution architecture repository

A solution architecture document repository is a central storage place for all architectural artifacts, such as frameworks, models, and patterns. Using an enterprise architecture repository from an enterprise architecture tool can help create a solution architecture document repository.

RELATED WIKI: Enterprise architecture repository

Using an enterprise architecture tool as a solution architecture document repository offers several benefits for organizations. Here are some key advantages:

1. Centralized storage: An enterprise architecture tool provides a centralized repository for storing all architecture documentation. This ensures that all relevant information is stored in one location, making it easy to access and manage.

READ: How Keybank created a repository of their architecture diagrams

2. Organization and structure: The tool allows for the organization and structure of architecture documents, making it easier to find and navigate different artifacts. Documentation can be categorized, tagged, and linked to related components, providing a clear and logical structure.

3. Easy access and collaboration: With an enterprise architecture tool, stakeholders can access the repository anywhere, anytime. This enables seamless cooperation between architects, developers, project managers, and executives, as they can all access and contribute to the documentation.

4. Version control and history: The tool typically offers version control capabilities, allowing users to track changes, compare versions, and revert to previous versions if needed. This ensures the documentation is always up-to-date and provides a history of changes made over time.

5. Security and permissions: Enterprise architecture tools often provide robust security features, allowing organizations to control access to sensitive architectural information. Permissions can be set at various levels, ensuring only authorized individuals can view or modify specific documents.

6. Integration with other tools: Many enterprise architecture tools integrate with other software development tools, such as project management systems, requirements management tools, and development environments. This integration streamlines the flow of information and enhances the overall efficiency of the development process.

5. The solution architecture review process

Solution architecture documentation is a critical input to an architecture review. During the review, stakeholders, including architects, project managers, and subject matter experts, carefully examine the document to establish adherence to architectural principles and standards. It also assesses the document’s alignment with business requirements and objectives.

A solution architecture review involves evaluating the quality of a solution architect’s deliverables and their adherence to the agreed architecture principles. The review can give the solution architect feedback to help gauge the accuracy and effectiveness of their work.

The review helps validate the proposed solution’s feasibility, scalability, and alignment with the organization’s overall architecture. Feedback and recommendations are gathered during the review to refine and improve the solution architecture document before its final approval and implementation.

Using an enterprise architecture tool for solution architecture design can greatly speed up the review process. How?

  • An enterprise architecture tool allows users to integrate various types of information into a single repository, serving as a comprehensive source of knowledge for the organization.[1]
  • They offer a customizable toolset that enables users to integrate multiple diagram concerns into one view of the business, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the organization’s architecture. [2]
  • These tools include dashboards that provide various data, helping users gain actionable insights faster and generate reports more efficiently. [2]
  • They offer real-time visibility of key metrics and trends, allowing users to act more quickly and optimize their operations.

Enterprise architecture tool, Bizzdesign Horizzon, includes workflows for design review and approval

(Source) Enterprise architecture tool, Bizzdesign Horizzon, includes workflows for design review and approval

6. Conclusion

Integrating an enterprise architecture tool into the solution architecture documentation process is pivotal for solution architects who want to improve efficiency, eliminate waste, and produce high-quality design work. Such tools establish a unified language and a centralized repository, which is essential for clear communication and seamless collaboration across teams.

This centralization ensures all stakeholders have access to a consolidated source of truth about the enterprise’s IT assets, processes, value streams, and projects.

Additionally, by utilizing enterprise architecture tools for solution architecture documentation, solution architects can benefit from automated discovery and enrichment of current-state architectures. This not only simplifies impact analysis and scenario planning processes but also reduces the time spent on repetitive tasks and building the future state. These templates facilitate content reuse and support rapid iteration, thus accelerating the delivery of solution architecture artifacts.

The capability of enterprise architecture tools to support common design frameworks and to allow the integration of custom patterns and frameworks is also particularly valuable. It ensures that the solution architecture is not only compliant with established standards but also adaptable to the organization’s unique requirements. Automated review and approval workflows further streamline the design process, ensuring deliverables meet high-quality standards.


Solution architecture documentation

Joe Ewing is an experienced Enterprise Architect with expertise in Risk Management, Business Analysis, and Compliance. He excels in fast-paced consulting, working in various sectors like Secure Government, Energy, and Banking on transformative projects. Before Bizzdesign, Joe was a Senior Enterprise Architecture Consultant at Deloitte and ATOS, leading projects like Digital Workplace Transformations and M&As.