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The System Architect: Silver Bullet or Good Planning?

December 4, 2014

For some reason, all my current business leads appear to be for me to be a system architect. While each lead is for a different brand of software, it’s unusual that all my leads are for a single type of work. As I wonder what is driving it, and as I have that conversation with others seeing similar trends, I thought it worth bringing the topic to those of you reading this blog.

What is a System Architect?
A system architect is someone that oversees the entire solution to make sure it makes sense. They keep track of all the pieces to make sure they fit together and meet the requirements of the project.

Merely a Silver Bullet?
Just the other day, I made a post complaining about the fact that there are still so many terrible projects around. In fact, I just now had a quick conversation with someone else in the industry that leads me to think that, despite all the advancements we’ve made with new modules and features, I think we’re writing just as much code as ever. He commented to me that projects are actually running longer. While I don’t have data to support that, I can’t disagree with it, either.

It’s possible that projects are starting to realize that they need all the players required of a true software development project in order to make their projects successful. While it only used to be the hard-core techie-type projects that had people like system architects, quite possibly the projects in our laboratory informatics industry have given in and admitted that our projects need all the help they can get. and that every type of staff required for software implementation is now considered welcome and necessary. It could be that customers, software vendors and services companies are really serious about the projects, now.

The other possibility, though, is that the system architect is the latest silver bullet fad. Programmers and software project folks talk about the “silver bullet” and it’s not a compliment. Basically, the “silver bullet” kills the werewolf. In software project terms, it’s something that people see as the magical solution to all the project’s problems. It’s something that seems all too real to the people who believe in it, but is clearly a fictional solution to those with software project experience.

The Point
My point is that, while putting a system architect in place is a good sign for projects and can be a key player and an important tool to guide a project to success, it’s not the be-all/end-all, either. Without all key players and a strong plan, a system architect won’t save the day. Even the system architect can’t truly single-handedly save your project from failure (or from the werewolf), not even me.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises
http://www.GeoMetrick.com/

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