Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The added value of a Solution Architect in an Agile environment

In my former project I worked as a Solution Architect in an agile environment. The environment existed of the migration of a European SAP landscape into a global SAP landscape, the roll-out of the SAP solution to new countries, the integration of non-SAP solutions into the SAP landscape and process and system optimization projects. And this was all done simultaneously and by several scrum teams working on different locations around the globe. 

When I asked some stakeholders in this project what the added value was of the Solution Architect in an agile environment they gave me some very interesting answers I would like to share with you. 
It shows the role of the architect has changed from an independent, strategic, ivory tower role into an agile, holistic, integral part of the scrum team role.
And it clearly shows the added value a Solution Architect can bring to your project or organisation.

My Program Manager said there had been some discussion on the role of the Solution Architect when working within an Agile/Scrum environment.
The Scrum development teams were of the opinion that they should be free in choosing and developing the architectural design themselves, whereas we (the Program Management) noticed that they would be focused too much on short term design that would trigger too much rework and complexity later on when additional functionality would be added to the completed work. The Solution Architect makes sure a long term, standardized but flexible solution is implemented.

Program Management also noted that the Product Owners did benefit from advice of Solution Architects that gave more insight in the bigger picture and helped them to better prioritize the backlog and refine the stories to sufficient detail that the Scrum teams could more easily pick them up and don’t lose too much time in debating and investigating this by themselves. So we always wanted to have the Solution Architects work slightly ahead and together with the Scrum teams. The Solution Architect can deliver high level solution designs describing global template solutions, vendor best practices and experience from other projects to the Scrum teams.

The Solution Architect allows the business to keep the overall picture of a solution that is developed, so that all inter-dependencies between Sprints, Scrum teams and different projects are foreseen and negative inter-dependencies between them are avoided. The Solution Architect keeps the overall picture of a solution and has a hands-on mindset that makes things moving forward very fast.

A Product Owner explained: The Solution Architect is to secure a solid and sustainable solution as close to the standard functionality of the application and industry standards. The Solution architect is expected to have the more holistic view where the functional consultant and developer have the more detailed view for the required functionality. The holistic view has been essential for a successful implementation. With the help of the Solution Architects we have managed to finish our project successfully within the expected time and budget.

The Solution Architect also challenges certainties that we (Product Owners and the business) have internally and make ourselves open to new elements. He or she brings experience from other customers and has knowledge of the latest technologies and functionalities. The Solution Architect fits with the organisation's reality without stopping from challenging us on our certainties. This mindset also helped us implementing the best solution.

The Solution Architect spends time with all the teams during backlog refinement sessions, demo preparations and demo execution. Therefore the Solution Architect knows the profile of each team and each team member. That helps the business as we are sure the right person or team is assigned to the right request.

Are you interested to know more about the role of the Solution Architect and how it can add value to your project or organisation comment to this blog or contact