Guide to solutions architect responsibilities (with skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A solutions architect is an IT professional who focuses on providing technical vision and clearly defined solutions to business problems. Their work involves designing, explaining and maintaining the solution so that it provides inherent value to a company. Their role helps create a bridge for a company to incorporate technological solutions into their way of working and help the company perform better. In this article, we discuss solutions architect responsibilities, list core skills for the role and provide other important information about this job.

What is a solutions architect?

A solutions architect is an expert in technological solutions for a business. They evaluate the needs of a business and define how IT solutions might help. This includes approaches like implementing new software, hardware or specific infrastructure to meet clearly defined business needs or goals. They find the right balance between investing in expensive technology and solving problems for a business, so a solid understanding of how businesses function is essential.

A large part of the role involves supporting communication between business operations and the IT side of a company. This ensures that all the technical solutions brought in clearly align with the needs of the business. To do this, solutions architects require consistent feedback from senior management to make adjustments, find new solutions and assess the overall success of any implementations.

Related: How to become a solutions architect (plus key skills)

What are the solutions architect responsibilities?

A solutions architect's responsibilities vary depending on the type of company they work for, their industry and the overall needs of the organisation. That said, some of the most common responsibilities that most solutions architects have include:

  • leading brainstorming sessions and other group meetings to find possible technological solutions for a business problem

  • inspecting the operations of a business to look for areas of improvement

  • establishing and outlining various testing requirements for technological solutions

  • working closely with specific parts of a business to devise and develop various technological strategies and improve existing IT infrastructure

  • devising, creating and rolling out new software and digital solutions across a company

  • building relationships with product teams and delivery teams to create scalable digital solutions and products for a company

  • liaising with clients and company leaders to understand business problems and find the best IT solutions for their needs

On top of these primary responsibilities, solutions architects also interact with many of the staff in a company to understand their specific needs. This includes working closely with senior leadership, management and other employees across all areas and levels of a company. Sometimes, such as when working on a product team, solutions architects also work with clients to help create IT solutions based on their specific needs. When working in a client-facing capacity, it helps to learn how to manage client expectations so that the end product is satisfactory.

Related: What is an implementation consultant? And how to become one

Solutions architect knowledge and experience

Solutions architects use their in-depth knowledge of IT software, hardware and infrastructure to help companies reach specific goals or improve their existing practices. It's typical for a solutions architect to have years of experience in an associated specialism, such as software development, to understand all the different technological tools and strategies that might help a company grow in efficiency, productivity or agility. They work with a solution development team and alongside enterprise or computer network architects for strategic planning.

Their primary aim is to help a company implement the right technology to solve specific business problems. They're typically brought in while the computer systems analyst is establishing requirements. From here, they set up the development and guide it through to completion. When the solution is ready, they also help roll out and implement the technology. Some areas that they focus on include:

  • finding specific technology to help with a business problem

  • determining which framework, platform or product is the best solution

  • developing the appearance of the application, what features to include and how users interact with it

  • addressing scalability concerns and planning for the company's future

  • performing various risk mitigation practices when using third-party solutions

Related: How much does a software developer make? (Plus duties)

What are the core skills of a solutions architect?

A solutions architect requires a lot of technical and soft skills. Below is a breakdown of some core skills:

Technology and development experience

A key skill for a solutions architect is their understanding of technology and how to apply it. There are more digital solutions than ever before and it's the job of a solutions architect to choose the right tools for a company's problems. This includes considering the right technology stacks, infrastructure, digital tools and programming languages for implementation.

A large part of the role involves checking that any new systems work seamlessly with any existing systems to create a cohesive network. They use their in-depth technical knowledge to inspect key processes, operating systems and infrastructure to create a fully functional digital ecosystem that's powerful enough to solve specific business problems. It's not unusual for solutions architects to have at least five years of industry experience across a broad range of technologies, such as:

  • IT infrastructure and cloud-based solutions

  • software engineering and design

  • network administration

  • business analysis procedures and techniques

  • working across different operating system environments

  • hardware and software analysis

  • database management

Related: The 5 phases of software testing (plus Agile testing)

Communication

Another essential core skill for this role is communication. This includes speaking with all levels of staff in the company, from lower-level employees to leadership roles. Excellent communication skills are crucial to effectively conveying information about new systems, IT solutions and product features. Most times, this involves breaking down complex, high-level details about a system so that those without in-depth IT knowledge understand its purpose. They also communicate with other IT specialists, such as enterprise architects, to help define functional requirements for systems.

Written communication skills also help in documenting for new systems and solutions. Their role often requires creating test plans for new systems and performing technical presentations and analyst briefings, so strong written and verbal communication helps. Constraints often exist in implementing digital solutions and systems, such as licensing requirements or budget issues, so effectively communicating with senior leaders resolves these concerns.

Related: How much does an AWS solutions architect make? (With duties)

Analytics

To solve problems effectively, solutions architects require keen analytical skills. This is a useful skill across all phases of architecture development. Analytical skills help guide decision-making while implementing data-driven processes and solutions while keeping the company's goals in mind. Solutions architects help to answer questions about what specific technology to implement, what problems they solve and how to bring new technologies into existing infrastructure.

A solutions architect's analytical skill helps guide projects towards success and mitigates many of the risks associated with new technology. They factor in things like the scalability of a solution, or its overall costs to justify the benefits it brings to a company. They also use their analytical skills to decide whether to use third-party tools or to create their own.

Related: What does an enterprise architect do?

Project management

As solutions architects help guide projects throughout their life cycle, good project management is important for this role. They ensure teams have sufficient resources to roll out new technology in the company and mitigating potential risks with the roll-outs. They also help by advising and guiding senior leadership to make the right decisionsregardingf investment in IT solutions. This requires strong foresight throughout a project to determine scalability for solutions.

Related: Common solution architect interview questions (with answers)

What certifications are useful for solutions architects?

Becoming a solutions architect requires a lot of industry experience and qualifications. To stand out from the competition and specialise in particular areas of IT, certifications are very useful. There are lots of vendor-aligned certifications to showcase skills and competence in specific areas. Some of the most popular certifications include:

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architects

  • Azure Solutions Architect Expert

  • CISSP Information Systems Security Architecture Professional

  • Red Hat Certified Architect

  • Salesforce Certified Technical Architect

  • The Open Group Certified Architect

Related: What is software engineering and what does it involve?

Different solutions architect career paths

Solutions architects have a versatile career path, as they can work with high-level IT infrastructure, focus on a particular area or work with specific software. Below are some different areas to consider:

Technology-focused solutions architect

This is a career path that focuses on the implementation and maintenance of complicated technology for a company, such as cloud-based architecture or micro-services. The role requires a strong background in these technologies and a deep understanding of their benefits and drawbacks. This helps them make the right decisions with company goals and constraints in mind.

Domain-focused solutions architect

This type of solutions architect focuses on specific domains such as retail, communications or enterprise. It takes a strong understanding of the different business practices and processes found in these domains to find the right solutions for companies. It also requires up-to-date awareness of the latest hardware and software specific to that domain.

Product-focused solutions architect

A product-focused solutions architect specialises in implementing specific software suites and solutions for things like business management or enterprise-level software. Companies require professionals with intimate knowledge of these systems to establish workflows and facilitate day-to-day operations. The role also requires a good understanding of company procedures and goals to align them with the technologies.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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