Why hire a Solutions Architect?

31 March 2021

It’s a role we’ve been tasked with hiring a lot recently and one of the most sought after senior tech positions. A Solutions Architect is a role that requires a lot of experience and expertise, but if you’re developing tech products or software, it could be a gamechanger.

In the tech-landscape, change happens quickly, and companies must transform their processes and systems to meet both business and user needs if they wish to stay on top. Whether it’s digital transformation (which the last 12 months have seen a lot of) or keeping on top of your tech game, it’s a Solutions Architect who will keep you in check and ensure that technical solutions meet business expectations and requirements.

According to a 2017 report from the Project Management Institute (PMI), 14% of IT projects fail outright, but a further 31% didn’t meet their goals, 43% exceeded their initial budgets, and 49% were late. With a rapidly changing and ever-competitive tech landscape, scaling tech businesses cannot afford for this to happen, and it could be detrimental to business growth. A solutions architect can keep these solutions in check throughout the project’s lifecycle, ensuring that business goals, customer needs and overall expectations are met. Any issues that are faced will be solved with technology.

To further explain, we’re looking into a Solutions Architect’s role, helping you decide whether hiring one will help your scaling business grow.

What is a Solutions Architect?

Solution Architecture refers to the practice of designing and managing solution engineering to solve specific business problems. Solution architecture is a complex process. It bridges the gap between business issues and tech solutions, or sales and product development.

A Solutions Architect is part of an organisation’s solution development team and leads the process of designing software solutions, applications and services. They provide strategic direction and a technical vision throughout the development process and ensure it fits in with the existing software and architecture.

Solutions architects must have technical, commercial and sales skills. They need to help sales-people and business development teams do their job and are subsequently essential to the customer experience.

What does a Solutions Architect do?

Solutions architects are instrumental in ensuring technology and products match up customer and business needs. They support and collaborate with the sales team or product development teams by listening to customers’ business problems. Technical requirements then link the technology to those problems to give tailored solutions.

A Solutions Architect’s role is to explain the business goals and requirements or customer issues to developers and act as a leader in building a product that can solve the problems. They form a vital part of the customer journey by troubleshooting issues and ensuring that the product is suitable for end-use. Using their technical and customer insight, they can help with the sales pipeline by creating a compelling product roadmap.

Typically, solutions architects join a project within the early stages, creating a strategy for developing and guiding the technical and product teams. They are responsible for the vision of the solution as well as it’s execution.

The role includes:

  • Finding the best tech solution to solve user problems and troubleshoot issues
  • Presenting the structure, appearance, framework, tech-stacks, behaviour, and other aspects of the software to project stakeholders
  • Defining features, phases, and solution requirements
  • Assessing how solutions will work with current infrastructure
  • Providing specifications for the solution
  • Managing how the solutions will scale and be maintained
  • Identifying potential risks for the platforms

When should a company hire a Solutions Architect?

A Solutions Architect, as a senior tech role, is often a costly hire. However, if you’re trying to design and develop new technology solutions, they could be essential. There are many risks involved in developing new software or application; solutions architects bridge the gap between technical and non-technical teams engaged in a project as well as customer and development teams.

For startups, a Solutions Architect could be instrumental in helping your tech products fit your customers’ needs. In the early days, teams are so small it should be easy for you to manage projects, but as you scale, they can play a vital role in managing the product teams. As a startup scales, product teams will be less able to see the customer through implementation, which is when it’s time to hire a Solutions Architect.

Most B2B tech startups must maintain a certain momentum that won’t be manageable if engineers are taking customers calls or the CTO is managing sales. Hiring a Solutions Architect means engineers can focus on software development. You have someone to manage the tasks that integrate the product into the end user’s enterprise architecture.  

What industries do Solutions Architects work in?

Tech – Unsurprisingly, most of the demand for Solutions Architects comes from the tech industry. As these are the businesses that are developing new software solutions, they need to hire experienced people who can assess and co-ordinate these projects to a high standard. In tech, the solutions architect will take the leadership team’s ideas and ensure that the product and development teams both understand and deliver an effective solution.

Retail – As retail moves online and there is a rise in eCommerce, these businesses, too, are seeing a surge in demand for Solutions Architects. They will identify, develop and maintain strategic solutions to support online sales and improve the existing solutions which are in place.

Healthcare – Solutions Architects are also prominent in healthcare. With patients becoming more reliant on online interfaces and a vast amount of data management, there is more need than ever to design and manage software systems and solutions.

Transport – Solutions Architects play a role in driving technology solutions that support transport systems. With many transport providers undergoing transformation, solutions architects are often needed to keep maintaining physical devices through digital channels and applications that are both customer and staff facing.

Manufacturing – In manufacturing, whether it’s food and beverage, biotechnology or aerospace, solutions architects solve and troubleshoot issues to streamline the process. They are involved in the project lifecycle and assess existing solutions to evolve the manufacturing process. Solutions Architects are responsible for refining and maintaining smooth operations by ensuring technical solutions are always available.

What qualities should you look for when hiring a Solutions Architect?

A Solutions Architect will need a relevant degree in computer science, software development or business information systems. Usually, a solutions architect should have a minimum of 5 years of experience in Business analysis, IT infrastructure, software architecture, cloud development or DevOps. It is not an entry-level position.

They must have knowledge of all operating systems and infrastructures, including strengths and weaknesses. This includes LAN/WAN, cloud services and end-user devices.

A successful Solutions Architect must communicate with stakeholders, project managers, developers and other teams involved in software development. They must manage the projects and therefore need good time management and good organisational skills, and the ability to deal with pressure and meet deadlines. They should be analytical and detail orientated.

A Solutions Architect needs a solid technical background, including risk analysis, software development and the ability to analyse details.

Finally, a Solutions Architect should know and be passionate about the product. If they need to know how to improve the software, how it will work for end-users, and maintain the systems, they need to know it like the back of their hand.

Talent Works specialise in finding top tech talent to help companies grow and innovate. Through direct sourcing, digital recruitment marketing and attraction strategies, and building employer brands that cut through the noise and resonate with the tech market. To find out how we could help your business find and connect with leading Solutions Architects to manage your tech product and software development projects, contact us.

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