We live in the era of rapidly evolving technological advancements. Nowadays, it’s impossible to imagine a successful business without a solid software foundation. Therefore, more and more organizations and companies all over the world are facing the ultimate need to go digital and adopt innovations and high-end software to multiply their efforts and keep growing.
However, it goes without saying that a comprehensive digital transformation also requires specific skills and professional expertise to ensure the business needs are aligned with the technological solutions envisaged. Therefore, the role of an IT solutions architecture is integral to making it all happen.
In this article, we will explain in-depth what a solutions architect’s role is, what the required skills and responsibilities are, their average salary as well as why having a solutions architect is critical for organizations and projects.
Before we dive into the topic, let’s clarify who is a solutions architect in general.
An IT solutions architect is an expert and one of the most significant and client-facing roles in the IT industry. Its importance is nonetheless often overlooked or even completely ignored by companies at both ends.
For a software solution to work effectively, scale, and meet the set business needs, it needs to have a well-thought-out architecture that accounts for numerous technical and customer nuances. Put simply, the long-term success of any IT project relies on the input from a solution design architect, who needs to have:
- wide-ranging technical expertise
- business analysis skills
- project management skills, etc.
What Is a Solutions Architect’s Role in a Company?
A solutions architect is responsible for creating a comprehensive architecture for a software solution and providing strategic direction throughout the development process.
This person needs to ensure that the new solution fits into the existing enterprise architecture from technical, business, user, and other perspectives.
They cooperate with all the teams involved in the development process and need to know how every product and service works in architecture. An IT solution architect needs all this knowledge to oversee a successful delivery of a quality end product to its end users.
What Does a Solutions Architect Do?
Having a clear vision for the project, and a clear understanding of the client’s business needs, a solutions architect maps out the parts that will constitute the software solution and how they are going to work together.
A solutions architect starts very early in the project, laying out what is to come. Their tasks usually begin with choosing the right technology for the business problem(s) and managing architectural concerns to ensure more productive and effective outcomes.
A solutions architect is responsible for translating the vision for the project to the development team and plays a pivotal part throughout the entire systems development lifecycle. They are also involved in future updates to the solution.
Solution architect certification
One crucial thing that we also want to mention related to the IT solution architect is their certifications which are needed to validate their skills and qualifications. The certifications are aimed at assessing the overall knowledge, abilities, and experience of an IT solutions architect and at proving their proficiency.
There is a big variety of certification platforms available that offer training, access to plenty of learning materials, tests to practice the knowledge, etc. Nevertheless, the exam can be taken without any previous preparation in case a professional has a deep understanding of the architecture principles along with solid experience in the IT industry.
It’s worth noting that there are different certifications available for IT solution architects and down below we will provide a brief overview of the most popular ones:
- AWS certification. This certification targets professionals of different levels of seniority who work with AWS technologies while developing apps and systems. The exam lasts 130 minutes and requires a registration fee depending on the exam type. The minimum experience needed for this test is at least 1 year working in the field. The certificate is valid for 3 years and requires recertification once expired.
- Azure certification. This specific exam will be suitable for specialists working with Microsoft Azure and possessing advanced knowledge of Azure infrastructure. The price for the certification varies from one country to another.
- ITIL certification. It’s a well-recognized set of qualifications that consists of 5 different levels to fit different experiences and seniority levels. This exam will be suitable not only for IT solution architects but also for people who want to obtain managerial positions in the IT field. The costs for this exam as well as for training depend on the country.
- Google cloud certification. This exam will be suitable not only for solution architects but also for any experts dealing with Google cloud technologies. The exam lasts 2 hours and requires a registration fee. According to Google's recommendation, it’s better to take this exam with at least 3 years of experience. In addition, it’s also crucial to do the recertification every 2 years.
Solutions Architect Responsibilities & Detailed Role Explanation
As the job title implies, a solutions architect primarily focuses on solution-level decisions and evaluation of their impact on a client’s overarching business objectives and outcomes.
In most cases, a solutions architect’s responsibilities revolve around ensuring that the software solutions align with a client company’s resources, risk identification, and planning. Here are some of the main responsibilities of a solutions architect:
- Creates and leads the process of integrating IT systems for them to meet an organization’s requirements.
- Conducts a system architecture evaluation and collaborates with project management and IT development teams to improve the architecture.
- Evaluates project constraints to find alternatives, alleviate risks, and perform process re-engineering if required.
- Updates stakeholders on the status of product development processes and budgets.
- Notifies stakeholders about any issues connected to the architecture.
- Fixes technical issues as they arise.
- Analyzes the business impact that certain technical choices may have on a client’s business processes.
- Supervises and guides development teams.
- Continuously researches emerging technologies and proposes changes to the existing architecture.
Core Solutions Architect Skills
To successfully design, create, and lead the development of a software solution, a solutions architect needs to have a certain skill set.
Let’s take a closer look at the most important skills of a solutions architect below:
- Superior CommunicationBeing able to communicate effectively with stakeholders, project managers, developers, and software vendors involved in the software development process is essential for a solutions architect. As the architect has a central role in any project and leads every team on it, ineffective communication can lead to big bottlenecks. So, a solutions architect should be able to clearly explain, understand everyone’s point of view, listen, advise, and influence.
- Project and Resource Management. Although a solutions architect is not directly involved in project development, they still need to ensure that project resources are being used efficiently and impactfully. They should be business-minded, capable of identifying the most effective solution at every turn, for every part of the architecture. It is their responsibility to focus on business goals, including hiring new people, and understand how to achieve them in the set timeframe and within the given budget.
- In-depth Analysis. Software architecture and systems integrated into it are numerous details that work together. A solutions architect needs to be very attentive to those details, as overlooking something may hinder the development process, lead to breakdowns, or make the software solution inefficient. They also should be able to understand the technical specifications of many different software solutions and hardware and perform analysis of different business layers. The solutions architect is also responsible for the project context from the very beginning to the current moment. He or she needs to remember all the details of the projects and ideas to validate and approve them on time.
- Risk Identification and Management. A solutions architect must be capable of analyzing and identifying potential short and long-term risks that may cause technical issues and impede business operations in the future.
- Technical Skills. Expectedly, the role of a solution architect requires technical education and hands-on experience across all major areas of the software development process as well as hardware engineering expertise (for software projects that rely on hardware).
Thus, a solutions architect should have at least 6 to 8 years of experience in the following areas:
- Business analysis
- IT infrastructure
- Software architecture design
- Cloud development
Enterprise Architect Vs. Technical Architect Vs. Solutions Architect
There are three different architecture-related roles in the IT industry. Each of these roles is equally essential for the success of a project they are involved in and cannot be replaced by any other positions:
- Enterprise Architect
- Technical Architect
- Solutions Architect
Now, let’s learn more about these roles and how they differ from one another.
Enterprise Architect Vs. Solutions Architect Role
An enterprise architect is responsible for overseeing a company’s entire enterprise ecosystem. Enterprise architects focus on constructing and managing complex solutions that solve the company’s critical strategic issues.
The overarching goal of an enterprise architect is to ensure that the company has smooth development lifecycles and uses available resources for every enterprise application effectively.
Meanwhile, a solutions architect has a much more practical role. They take the business requirements and turn them into new software solutions that use a company’s emerging technology.
Technical Architect Vs. Solutions Architect Role
A technical architect chiefly oversees the software architecture, technical engineering, and implementation technology. Their main task is to provide technical leadership and make decisions regarding the most vital parts of the system that is being developed.
They work closely with development teams to communicate IT strategies and outline practices that are meant to be followed throughout the project. The main difference between a technical architect and a solutions architect these two roles is that the first focuses primarily on the engineering side.
Here’s an image that gives a general perspective on how these three roles differ:
Importance of Solutions Architect In a Company
One of the main reasons why a company should employ a solutions architect is to successfully design and develop new technology solutions that align with its business needs, as well as fill in the communication gap between technical and non-technical experts involved in an IT project.
As the process is always heavy on the budget and highly risky, every company should have a solutions architect to implement new solutions and scale them successfully. A solutions architect can be introduced to a company’s enterprise structure through software architecture consulting services.
Solutions Architect Salary
Now, you probably want to know what the salary of a qualified Solutions Architect is. According to job search sites, the average salary for a Solutions Architect role can vary widely depending on the location, education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years in the profession, etc.
This position requires at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or software engineering. Although experience is not always required, several years of network administration experience is beneficial.
Salaries vary from one country to another so let’s take a closer look to compare. This will help you to make a well-informed and cost-effective decision for your business.
How Intellectsoft Can Help You
A solutions architect is responsible for building and implementing IT systems architectures that meet the set business requirements. Their role starts with gathering the requirements, understanding the specifications, evaluating the systems that are in place, and working closely with stakeholders to deliver the right solution.
In general, the solutions architect’s role is to explain the business requirements to the development team and lead them in building a product that can solve real business issues effectively. The position is very responsible and requires wide-ranging IT skills and knowledge. With companies increasingly relying on software and emerging technologies, the role of a solutions architect will continue to gain weight.
At Intellectsoft, we have gathered the best specialists including accomplished IT solutions architects. Our company has more than 15 years of experience in the outsourcing market and a track record of successful collaboration with international businesses and Fortune 500 companies.
We offer a wide range of services starting from software, mobile, and web app development to outstaffing and IT consulting services. Intellectsoft has extensive experience across various industries such as healthcare, logistics, construction, fintech, and others.
Feel free to see the list of top client cases to see how our team has solved the business challenges of our clients and how custom software solutions can take operations to the next level.
Contact us today to discuss your software development needs and our manager will be happy to assist with any questions you may have.
Who is an IT solution architect?
An IT solution architect is a professional in charge of developing a comprehensive architecture for a future software solution. They also have to provide a clear strategy throughout the whole software development process.
A solution architect is responsible for making sure the future solution will perfectly fit all business requirements and end-user needs. They are the ones who oversee the successful implementation of the quality solution. Therefore, they have to possess a clear understanding of the client’s vision and goals to achieve productive and effective outcomes.
What is the average salary of an IT solution architect?
The salary of an IT solutions architect varies a lot and depends on multiple factors. First of all, the location of a specialist plays an integral role. For example, in the US an expert can get between $142K – 238K yearly whereas in Ukraine a professional with the same qualifications can get between $68K – 90K per year. Moreover, the salary is also based on years of experience, technical skills, seniority, and soft skills as well.
How to find a qualified IT solution architect?
It’s not really easy to find and hire a well-matching IT solution architect as the market demand for accomplished specialists is enormous. If you want to hire an in-house member the search process will take a while as you have limited access to professionals in your area. However, if you are open to new opportunities and can consider hiring a remote team member you will increase your chances of hiring the right person. We highly recommend you turn to a trusted outsourcing vendor with years of experience hiring software development professionals. First of all, they will grant you access to a wide talent pool of experts. In addition, you can channel all your energy into your business needs, and your vendor will take care of the recruitment process and will offer you the best specialists to choose from.