What is a Software Architect?

Software architects create programming infrastructure by articulating and conceptualizing software architectural approaches, models and components. Besides technical duties, software architects must understand their client’s problems and business objectives in order to select the right approach, vision and project scope. This means they need soft skills to understand and appreciate client’s goals, values, concerns and difficulties. CNN Money ranks software architect as the third best job in America.

Job Responsibilities

Software architects are responsible for analyzing and translating technical requirements and business information into architectural blueprints. Software architects analyze enterprise drivers to determine corresponding technical and integration requirements. Their goal is to create and outline visionary solutions to achieve business objectives. They collaborate with application and infrastructure teams to produce optimal, high quality designs. They conduct test activities to validate proposed features and functions. They contribute to the development of core platform features that are used by application teams. They may supervise the design and build of cross-cutting components.

They analyze current architecture to identify weaknesses and recommend opportunities for improvement. These should be aimed at improving business processes, reducing costs, expanding capacities and increasing effectiveness. Software architects analyze market, industry and technology trends to determine their potential impact on the project. They develop an evolution road map of the application’s portfolio to share with clients and stakeholders. They standardize architecture concepts, design frameworks, and conceptual patterns.

Core Skills

Software architects may need a working knowledge of C#, MVC and .Net framework. They must have a basic understanding of software programming and developing. They must understand multi-tier architectures and design patterns. Familiarity with web services, WCF, SOA and REST, is helpful. They will need knowledge of GUI designs and platforms related to CSS, JQuery and JavaScript. They must understand architecture constructs, such as design patterns and SOAP protocols, as well as alternative methodologies, such as Agile and Waterfall.

As far as business skills go, they need to have the ability to translate client needs into architecture solutions and project requirements. They must have the ability to understand and achieve short-term objectives within the long-term big picture framework. They will need to have the ability to apply multiple technical solutions to various problems and work with cross-functional technical teams. Most software architects have at least five years of experience related to application design, development and integration. They should have experience with database management, technical architecture, information security and network management.

Sample Career

An architecture consulting firm may hire a software architect to manage product development. They will need expertise with designing and implementing SaaS based applications. They should be familiar with technology stacks like .Net, Java, cloud-based technologies and open source frameworks. They will need to understand big data analytics in order to mine and manipulate large data sets. Based on the information they gather, they will submit proposed software architecture drafts to decision-makers.

They will have at five to six years of experience working as an architect using enterprise scale architecture solutions. They will have a few years of hands on experience to creating and maintaining micro services like Docker, REST and open source frameworks like Spring. They will have a few years’ experience working with relational databases and SQL, MySQL and Oracle. These software architects will have Java programming experience and software development experience.

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Senior software architects will have a master’s degree in computer science and engineering or software and electrical engineering.