|Three signs: Clarity, Creativity, Simplicity|
(photo credit: blinkingidiot)
When one is working on a IT project, how does one tell if one’s team has a good IT architect? Good architects should produce good architectures, and through them, good architects produces three signs in IT projects. I learnt about these three signs from MIT Professor Edward Crawley’s System Architecture class, and the signs resonated with my experience. I will be interested to hear from you if your experience also validate this view, or if you have other views on this topic.
Here are three signs that a IT project has a good IT architect. Or if your project does not have these three signs, maybe you should consider hiring a IT architect.
1. Little ambiguity about the system to be built
2. Many diverse options on how the system could be designed
3. Designs that look almost obvious
After examining the first two signs, one might wonder, will a good facilitator do as good a job as an architect?
The answer is yes and no.
Yes in that good architects need good facilitation skills. For big systems, it is difficult for architects to be the expert in all areas. As such, architects need to facilitate conversations between experts in various areas, and then distill out the relevant pieces for the system being designed.
No in that architects need more than facilitation skills. One critical skill needed is making the complex simple. The keyword here is “Abstraction”. Good architects abstract complex designs into simple pictures such that only the most pertinent issues are highlighted. One might even say that those picture look obvious. But abstraction is not an easy skill; there are no prescribed approaches; it requires deep understanding of the system to know what is important and what is not, and then it requires creativity and communication skills to represent the complexity in a easy-to-understand way.
Does your project have a good IT architect?