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1 Since software is a business, architects need to be more than technologists Are your technologists on the same page as the rest of your organization?

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Presentation on theme: "1 Since software is a business, architects need to be more than technologists Are your technologists on the same page as the rest of your organization?"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Since software is a business, architects need to be more than technologists Are your technologists on the same page as the rest of your organization? Are your technologists making business decisions without realizing it? The ability to combine a technology perspective with a business perspective is imperative in order to be effective as an architect. To advance you must be able to demonstrate that you can influence, and that the results of your influence deliver as promised. We will examine how a business-aware perspective may differ from a technology-centric perspective – and how the two perspectives can result in different outcomes. We will also discuss how a business-aware perspective improves your ability to influence effectively as an architect, and how you can improve your influencing skills.

2 2 Bill Wilder - bio Bill Wilder currently works as an enterprise architect focused on.NET technologies. Over nearly 25 years in software development, Bill has played many roles spanning development manager, developer, and software architect. Bill has been an entrepreneur, an independent consultant, and an employee of companies from small startups to very large enterprises. Since founding it in the fall of 2009, Bill has been leading the Boston Azure user group ( Boston Azure brings together those interested in the Windows Azure platform with a focus on helping its members learn about cloud computing through an Azure lens. The group meets monthly in the Boston area. Bill blogs at, tweets as @codingoutloud, and can be found honing his public speaking skills at Boston West Toastmasters (

3 3 Why we are here today!

4 Copyright (c) 2010, Bill Wilder Since software is a business, architects need to be more than technologists Boston Azure User Group @bostonazure Bill Wilder @codingoutloud Boston West Toastmasters Not here with my day job Only Bill’s personal views The Architect Factory, Part Deux 27-Jan-2010

5 5 The Players Business People –Internal Users –Business Partners (your company) –Execs / Suits –Non-Techs Technologists –Developers (Devs) –Architects (Director Engineering, CTO, etc.) –Not-yet-Architects –Not-gonna-be-Architects

6 6 A natural progression?? Junior Dev  Senior Dev  Architect

7 7 What is Architecture? "Architecture is the fundamental organization of a system embodied in its components, their relationships to each other, and to the environment, and the principals guiding its design and evolution." [IEEE 1471]

8 8 Why Architect role exists

9 9 Where’s Your Comfort Zone? 1.Technologists often do not understand business context 2.Technologists often do not excel at communicating However… 3.When technologists understand the business context and communicate well, they have better ideas, more credibility, more influential, and are more successful

10 10 Top 10 “Blunders” by Enterprise Architects #3. Not engaging the business partners #2. Insufficient understanding and support from stakeholders #1. The Wrong Lead Architect #7. Not … Communicating the Impact #10. Not Spending Enough Time on Communications Source The top 10 enterprise architecture blunders By Alex Handy, September 25, 2009 Handy

11 11 Developer Comfort Zone

12 12 Technology Skills Ability to Communicate

13 13 Technology Skills Business Awareness

14 14 Influential Software Architect

15 15 Aristotle on Properties Essential property = must have Accidental property = happens to have but could lack All are Essential Properties Technology Skills Ability to Communicate Business Awareness

16 16 Architect Not In Charge You are not Bill Gates Ability to Influence Without Authority is core, essential skill for software architect EVEN WHEN YOU HAVE AUTHORITY… –Defensible, sensible decisions –Confidence in decisions – better decisions –Buy in better than compliance

17 17 Who Gets to Play Architect? Smartest? Best programmer? Best educated? Most experienced? Cost of entry = 3 Essential Properties Architecture is not about more/better dev skills… you need ADDITIONAL skills Those “less capable” will become Architects

18 18 Why are we here? Will NOT talk about technology per se We will drill into Business Skill scenarios, examples Communication Skill scenarios, examples Sometimes they overlap Take-aways for tomorrow

19 19 Business Awareness

20 20 Pure or Practical?

21 21 Requirements Gathering… Baseball Box Score Tracker Range of values for each of the following? # innings in a game # outs in an in inning # strikeouts in an inning # batters faced for a “save” # players who can play in a game Be sure to get business requirements from the right people

22 22 Act like a Kindergartener Why?

23 23 Taiichi Ohno, Toyota Founder Problems are just another opportunity to improve Get to core problem - Root Cause Analysis (RCA): 1. “Why did the robot stop?” The circuit has overloaded, causing a fuse to blow. 2. “Why is the circuit overloaded?” There was insufficient lubrication on the bearings, so they locked up. 3. “Why was there insufficient lubrication on the bearings?” The oil pump on the robot is not circulating sufficient oil. 4. “Why is the pump not circulating sufficient oil?” The pump intake is clogged with metal shavings. 5. “Why is the intake clogged with metal shavings?” Because there is no filter on the pump.

24 24 Managing by Instinct One person supporting 1000 customers Typical tech: Manage by Instinct –“That sure doesn’t sound like enough. How many do we need?” Business-aware: Manage by Facts –“Not inherently a problem.” –“What is the impact? Show me the data.” Lots of pressure on resources (grow or shrink?)

25 25 On “Business” Requirements… Understand difference between a business concern and a technology concern (regardless of source) “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.” Chinese proverb “We have a business requirement to add a column to the customer table…”

26 26 Is UX Architect’s concern? (internal software) Consider call center software 60 concurrent call center users –In your software all day What is the value of UX? Improve throughput by 1 second per minute per user = 1 full person (1/60) For 3600 concurrent users, 1 second saved per hour per user = 1 full person

27 27 Is UX Architect’s concern? (commercial software) Better UX = More money Compared to those poor experiences, those with better user experience are ~15%: –More likely to consider another purchase –Less likely to consider a competitor –More likely to recommend you

28 28 Is UX Architect’s concern? (helping business look smart) Accessibility –Some companies insist on it –May have legal implications Usability Testing –Do you plan for it? –How do you find representative users? –Some customers will love it “B of A release”

29 29 Quiz: Technology Decision? Desktop vs RIA vs Thin –Performance RDBMs vs NO-SQL vs Cloud –Scale, Business Rules, Security, Costs Language/Platform (Java,.NET, Rails) –Reputation, goodness-of-fit Beware of Business Decisions disguised as Technology Decisions

30 30 Effective Communicator

31 31

32 32 Stick to the Point Developers can’t tell lies! Know when to go complex, when to get to the point… “Quicken for Banks” –Made to Stick book refers to this as a schema

33 33 Know Your Audience Find the abstraction level of your audience Business != Technical –Can permanently lose a business user in a conversation if you open with technology Technical “why to” != Technical “how to” Example: Pitch switch from waterfall to XP

34 34 Rosetta Stone “Scalable” “Secure” “Always Available” “FURPS”

35 35 To Dos You Can Use

36 36 Make it “their” idea Make partial business case… … leaving out conclusion “What do you think?” Don’t worry about credit Share the credit

37 37 Give a Talk Lunch-n-learn Code Camp User Group meeting Bar Camp

38 38 Offer to Run The Meeting Example: Requirements review meeting You get experience, become the expert, add value Differentiator Even do it once…

39 39 Join Toastmasters Toastmasters International –http://toastmasters.org Boston West Toastmasters –http://bwtoastmasters.com Considering starting a new Toastmasters group for technologists –Interested? Let me know…

40 40 Go on a Sales Call Sit side-by-side with sales / business partner Talk to actual living, breathing customers and prospects Major street cred back in the tech world!

41 41 Double-Jack Listen to real customer problems

42 42 Invite Business Partners to... Coffee, lunch, dinner, … A Usability Test Give you a demo of the system Give you a demo of competitor’s system … or start with your business-facing colleagues from the Technology group … or ANYONE who brings you closer to the business

43 43 Train Thyself Does your company have user training classes for the applications you produce? Take The Training!

44 44 Lock Business Partner in Room … with the development team Sometimes known as “Agile”

45 45 Get Soft-Skill Training Many companies offer these to employees Running a meeting Listening skills Presentation skills Time management Requirements gathering Business writing

46 46 Use “5 Why” RCA Root-Cause-Analysis Better solutions come from better data, and clearer understanding

47 47 Verify “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw, author and famous software architect You’ve “communicated” – now verify Both ways

48 48 Summary & Conclusions

49 49 “White Lab Coat” Effect

50 50 What are you waiting for? "A year from now you may wish you had started today." - Karen Lamb

51 51 Step Out of your Comfort Zone Differentiate Start NOW Good results await Good luck … on your journey to Architect

52 52 Questions ?...

53 53 Boston Azure User Group Learn about Microsoft’s Cloud Platform - Azure Meets monthly at Microsoft NERD –4 th Thursday @ 6:00 Next meeting is tomorrow night: –Thursday 28-Jan-2010 –Free –6:00 PM – food + Boston Azure Theater –7:00 PM – main speaker –8:15 PM – give-aways, wrap-up

54 54 "A year from now you may wish you had started today." - Karen Lamb

55 Bill Wilder Boston Azure User Group @bostonazure @codingoutloud

56 56 Creative Commons License This slide deck is © Bill Wilder 2010 and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution (BY) + Share Alike (SA) license: Excluding the slide/pages with the frame from a Dilbert cartoon. Sources for images used in this presentation are listed in the slide’s notes (View > Notes Pages). Please check those licenses yourself before reuse.

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