What is the role of a software architect in an Agile Enterprise?

I’ve defined here under what my vision is on the tasks and responsibilities of a Agile Software Architect role should have in the Enterprise. The Enterprise usualy also  has another role that could be defined as the Enterprise Architect whose role is more strategic and cross project. The list here under is applicable to the first category, the once actively participating in software projects.

Project Tasks

  • Take final responsibility for the quality of the software produced
  • Take the important technical decisions taking all quality aspects of the project into consideration (Cost, Maintainability, Availability, Scalability, Security and all other ty’s)
  • Mesure the quality through metrics and code reviews
  • Enforce changes if quality is not in line with standards
  • Select, in the context of the project, what the software engineering practices should be and how they are applicable for the concrete project
  • Define code coverageCode quality and encouragement of best practices
  • Coaching of and adherence to “Agile” software development principles for module design and implementation
  • Take the lead when building prototypes, common tools, general solutions and reusable components
  • Engage the teams in both defining and executing on such tasks
    The people often best suited to build prototypes are those with knowledge of the intimate details
  • Building reusable components comes from first building usable components
  • Management of common libraries
  • Define based on stakeholders requirements what the Performance, scalability and high-availability requirements are.
  • Interface between technical teams (Service team, Project, Development Center, Quality Assurance…), business stakeholders and development teams on technical matters
  • Coordination with QA and release engineers
  • Integration, performance and load testing strategies
  • Release, migration and upgrade strategies
  • Coaching and working directly with development teams on a regular basis
  • Technical customer to the agile development teams
  • Able to add technical user stories to the product backlog
  • Works directly with the product owners to prioritize and trim the product backlog

Responsabilities

  • Participate in the design of the software engineering process(es)
  • High-level technical vision, planning and documentation
  • Automate and define the tools that support the software engineering process(es)
  • Technical oversight in specific technical domain
    EAI, .Net, Java, Packages, ….

I would like to underline what in my opinion differentiate an agile software architect from how our role is usually perceived.
An Agile software architect doesn’t take part to a project only at its beginning, but during the whole project’s lifecycle to ensure a right implementation of the design and architecture. He also has to keep listening to new requirements to adapt solutions if needed.
Even if I acknowledge that an architect has to step back from his work and the teams’ work, I don’t conceive an architect who would remain far from the implementation team. Indeed, an architect can have to write lines of code (at least to create prototypes), but also has to get his hands dirty with code to validate the quality of what is produced or resolve a particularly technically difficult situation.

Further I would like to refer to some toughts of Martin Fowler expressed in the article by Martin Fowler “Who needs Architect”

http://martinfowler.com/ieeeSoftware/whoNeedsArchitect.pdf

“architecture is the decisions that you wish you could get right early in a project, but that you are not necessarily more likely to get them right than any other”

“A guide is a more experienced and skillful team member who teaches other team members to better fend for themselves yet is always there for the really tricky stuff.”

I would also recommend the following webcast with again Martin Fowler on the role of an architect in an Agile Organization:http://www.infoq.com/presentations/agilists-and-architects

GVD

View Geoffrey Vandiest's profile on LinkedIn

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