Software architect: skills, qualities, tasks
A software architect is a specialist who creates a general plan, a ” framework” for a future program. He works immediately with the customer and the development team, ensuring the product’s final quality.
Given all this, a software architect must be familiar with IT. This position should be filled with people with experience in development, but there are other criteria besides this.
The Essence of the Software Architect Profession
Before moving on to the profession of a software architect (SW), let’s first understand what the last phrase is. Simply put, the software is a set of what users use on their computers and, laptops, smartphones.
Writing an article, editing a photo, watching a movie, and creating a presentation are all tasks that people do daily using tools like Word, Photoshop, Media Player, PowerPoint, and many more. All of them are part of the software.
There are three types of software:
- A system is a set of programs based on which the operation of any computer device is carried out, and its basic functionality is built (this includes the operating system, drivers for various devices, archives, etc.).
- Application is a group of tools with the help of which individual user tasks are solved (for example, listening to audio files, creating and editing electronic documents, etc.).
- Instrumental – these are systems designed for programming and modeling, used by specialists for new developments.
Programmers are engaged in designing future solutions. But the formation of the software structure and the preparation of technical specifications is the task of the professionals discussed in this material. What does a software architect do? It helps business people solve entrepreneurial problems by developing an efficient and useful software structure for users, automating business processes, and applying information technology to enterprises.
Software architects create terms of reference for product development, which prescribe its internal structure, main and additional functionality, and user interface. These specialists can also tell programmers what information technologies can be used to implement a project.
For example, the owner of a supermarket chain decides to offer its customers the service of placing orders through the application and the subsequent delivery of products by store couriers. To make this idea a reality, it is necessary to create mobile software. The software architect will be responsible for developing the functionality and appearance of the product.
It is on these solutions that the simplicity and convenience of the application, financial security of payments, confidentiality, and safety of personal data depend. This specialist creates the terms of reference for the project, according to which programmers, designers, backend and frontend developers, and testers are involved in the work.
A software architect is a professional of a wide profile with a large accumulated experience in several IT areas and a huge store of knowledge and qualifications. In work, this person is responsible for serious technical tasks in the field of creating IT products, so beginners or freshly graduated students are unlikely to be able to take this position.
Another specific feature of the profession of a software architect is the ability to communicate not only with IT specialists but also with customers of software products. It determines the internal and external structure of the system of the developed program based on the preferences, wishes, and requests of its future owner. Therefore, the ability to negotiate with entrepreneurs is one of the most important qualifications for a software architect.
Often, small and medium-sized development companies need employees of this level since the creation of simple IT products can be based on decisions made by programmers. As a rule, software architects are employees of large corporations operating within a complex information system.
Differences between a software architect and a technical lead
In smaller companies, the role of the IT architect is often taken over by the team’steam’s technical leader. When starting a new project, he can first work out the internal structure and functionality of the program, then move on to creating a technical task for all participants, and only after that switch to other tasks.
A tech lead can write program code, deal with organizational issues, communicate with clients, coordinate the entire process, and help implement its result in the customer’scustomer’s business activities.
The technical leader is primarily responsible for organizing the work on the project and the interaction of all team members. A software architect is the one who forms the structure of the IT product being created: he can write code and determine its position within the system, develop a user interface, and think over the main and additional functions of the program.
At the same time, this specialist has the right not to understand the construction of software development processes and each team member’smember’s role in implementing the project – these are already the duties of a technical leader. More often than not, however, experienced software architects are also skilled in these skills.
Skills and Qualities of a Software Architect
More than basic knowledge of the profession is required to implement projects successfully. In addition, software architects must have a broad outlook, as well as constantly update and improve their skills in the field of modern information technology. Adding at least five years of work on complex, time-consuming commercial projects in a wide-profile IT company is worth adding.
A qualified software architect must know the standards and methodologies for writing and modifying software products. Among his main skills and abilities:
- development of the structure of loaded functional systems;
- designing horizontally scalable software products;
- maintaining a balance between the price of the created software and the possibility of its simple and prompt implementation;
- Selection of information methods and technological solutions used in the development that meet the tasks and requirements of the customer;
- coordination of the project implementation, control of compliance with the structure of the produced software product;
- participation in resolving issues related to the adaptation of the created software to changed or updated business requirements;
- Creation of information data storage structure.
To master and subsequently improve all these skills, first of all, you need to familiarize yourself with the theoretical base outlined in specialized books, then move on to mastering the materials of publications and videos posted on the Web. After accumulating sufficient knowledge, you can move on to their practical application while simultaneously studying program documentation and tracking articles and references to new and improved IT technologies.
In addition to basic professional knowledge and skills, a software architect must be able to communicate with the customer, draw up proposed solutions in the form of presentations and justify their feasibility in detail.
The main personality traits of a software architect include the following:
- teamwork skills;
- critical, systems thinking;
- A broad outlook that allows you to go beyond the standard framework and find innovative solutions;
- high motivation for continuous development and professional development;
- ability to make effective decisions;
- stress resistance, ability to work in constantly changing conditions;
- organization, self-discipline;
- Ability to work to tight deadlines and time management;
- Desire and desire to share their experience with other team members.
Responsibilities of a software architect
A software architect takes part in every stage of creating an IT product, from discussing the developed system with the client to its implementation.
Its main task is to find the optimal solution to the entrepreneurial task with the help of information technology. This specialist is fully working on the internal architecture of the software product, its functionality, and its user interface. He also controls the implementation of the project at all stages: he monitors whether his solutions are being implemented correctly by other team members.
The job responsibilities of a software architect can be grouped into several groups:
- Technical, that is, related to programming and web design, namely: the development of the product structure, the definition of programming languages, the choice of methodology and project implementation tools, the selection of the necessary information technologies, the writing of technical specifications, the formulation of methods for storing and transmitting data.
- Expert: analysis of available information for a detailed study of the future IT product and drawing up the basic requirements for its creation, development of development standards, and adjustment of the architecture of the internal system of the software being created to eliminate the identified errors.
- Managerial is related to monitoring the activities of all team members and the implementation of the project, namely: coordination of work and consultation of personnel at each stage of design, making additions and corrections, searching for new solutions, and filling out relevant documents.
The main tasks that a software architect performs include the following:
- selection of methodology and tools for implementing software development plans;
- design of internal and external interfaces;
- negotiations with the customer;
- study, analysis, and systematization of project documents;
- assigning tasks to all team members;
- control at the testing stage of the created software product;
- elaboration of the internal structure of the ongoing IT project;
- evaluation of written program code;
- Search for alternative solutions to current problems, opportunities, and prospects for the further development of the project;
- Assessment of existing risks and the potential for errors in the system.
The software architect is responsible for almost everything in an IT project. Every day he processes huge amounts of information communicates with all team members, and consults and coordinates staff works at every stage of development.
Pros, cons, and prospects of being a software architect
Like any other profession, being a software architect has advantages and disadvantages.
The main advantages are high salaries, high demand in the labor market, and huge career growth and development prospects, which are realized through an increase in the complexity of ongoing projects and an increase in payment for them.
The main disadvantage of this profession is the very high degree of responsibility you have to take on. Software architect mistakes lead to the most serious problems in the implementation of the project since this specialist is responsible for each stage of development. Among other disadvantages, one can single out a sedentary lifestyle, an irregular work schedule, and tight deadlines.
Despite the shortcomings, the prospect of career development in this profession is extensive. A software architect, in his work, can delve into any IT area. Most often, after accumulating a sufficient amount of practice on various projects, system specialists dive even deeper into engineering development, backend and frontend programming, and auto testing.
There is a great demand for professionals of this profile from large corporations, development companies, and enterprises involved in creating integrated solutions for automating business processes, including Mail.ru, Google, Yandex, Sberbank, and Gazprom “.
How to Become a Software Architect
Becoming a software architecture professional with basic programming, coding, and engineering skills is possible.
Theoretically, you can master any IT specialty, for example, work in C ++, get a job, eventually master middle and senior positions, and then delve into the study of software architecture. However, training and subsequent work in one place to move to a completely different one should not be considered the best option. It is much easier to enter the system architect profession with a technical background in IT.
The easiest and most cost-effective way to enter the software architect profession is through the technical leadership position. To move on, he will only need to master negotiating with customers and managing a team and learn how to compose and maintain project documentation correctly.
A software architect is a complex, multi-faceted profession requiring a broad technological outlook, experience in the IT field, and excellent communication skills. Remember that, in addition to understanding the principles of developing the structure of the internal system of a software product, you will need to constantly communicate with customers and team members working on the project.
An analytical mindset will also be useful in this specialty. It will help you understand the standard architecture development methodology, think logically, and find new options and ways to solve business problems set by the client.
A high level of qualification and accumulated experience in working on a wide variety of projects will help me receive additional income from advising entrepreneurs in the future. And then you can start your own company. In any case, to successfully master the profession of a system architect, you must have at least a middle-level qualification in software development and experience working as an IT analyst.
The multitasking and complexity of this specialty make it quite difficult to learn from scratch without any basic skills and abilities.
There are several ways to become a software architect:
Education in higher educational institutions
In domestic universities and institutes, there are no training programs aimed at mastering the profession of a software architect. However, several related specialties can form a good initial technical knowledge base. These include the following training programs:
- “Applied Mathematics and Informatics”;
- “Software Engineering”;
- “System software”;
- “Distributed information systems”;
- “Enterprise Architecture”;
- “Design and Development.”
Taking online courses
This type of training is one of the most popular forms today. Indeed, this is a good alternative for mastering a new profession, based on an extensive, structured presentation of information, many practical tasks, and constant teacher feedback.
Our country’scountry’s software architect specialty is just gaining momentum, so the choice among affordable and truly useful courses still needs to grow. The limited number is also because online education is mostly designed to obtain specialties that can be mastered even without experience. And the profession of a software architect, as has been mentioned more than once, is designed for specialists with a certain knowledge base.
Self-training should not be an effective way to enter the profession since the specialty is complex and large. Moreover, each enterprise develops individual methods of work in projects. Therefore, finding high-quality training materials for self-training in architectural development is almost impossible.
Useful Books for Software Architects
- L. Bass, P. Clements, R. Katzman, Software Architecture in Practice
This award-winning book focuses on current trends in software development. It discusses the optimal concepts and methodologies that work in practice, the structure of the IT software development system, and the options for the interaction of elements within it. This fundamental work clarifies that a well-designed IT product architecture can subsequently be used more than once on many other projects.
- R. S. Pressman, Software Engineering: A Practical Approach (Eighth Edition)
This book has been the world’sworld’s number-one software development tutorial for thirty years. The training material is divided into 39 chapters, combined into five parts, distributed on the following topics: design of IT products, software modeling, quality control of developed software, coordination of IT projects, and in-depth material for immersion in software development.
- C. I. Vigers, J. Beatty, “Development of software requirements.”
The book is a collection of instructions for developing requirements for the quality of software being created, based on the methods of developing such requirements that have been studied and actively used in practice, starting from searching and formulating and ending with verification and acceptance. This manual will be useful for programmers, backend and frontend developers, designers, software architects, IT analysts, and testers.
The specialty of a software architect today is one of the most sought-after and highly paid in computer technology. Its development requires considerable experience and basic technical knowledge in information engineering. But this profession can be a great way to move up the career ladder for many in related IT positions. Should you consider this option?