Job profile: Become a technical architect

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Here's what you need to know to become a successful technical architect.Technical architects are logistics experts who assess a company’s business requirements and then plan or redesign, implement, and manage IT systems for clients or for their organization. They are sometimes known as systems architects.

The role involves coordinating between management, business and project managers, as well as developers, designers, and other IT specialists. A technical architect is responsible for ensuring that the structure and implementation of systems best meets their company’s or client’s business needs. A technical architect’s job is challenging and it takes years of experience in relevant areas of IT to become a successful technical architect.

Enterprise IT systems are complex, and only professionals who have acquired in-depth understanding of computer hardware and software can plan and implement systems that meet business requirements completely and function correctly at every level. A successful technical architect must have both advanced technical proficiency and managerial or leadership skills

The designation “technical architect” is a general title for a number of roles that entail managing or handling some aspect of a company’s tech architecture. Within this broad area there are specific job titles, such as system architects, application architects, solutions architects, infrastructure architects, and enterprise architects. Depending on the type and size of the organization, a technical architect may be required to perform functions of all or some of these roles.

Job responsibilities

Normally, technical architects either work for large enterprises or IT companies that offer consulting services to clients. They have overall responsibility for ensuring that systems are robust, available, secure, and user-friendly.

Here's what you need to know to become a successful technical architect.Typical job duties generally include some or all of the following:

Meeting with clients or management and business managers to understand the company’s precise needs
Examining all existing system components to ascertain whether the system can be upgraded to suit the client’s or organization’s needs or whether an entirely new system is required
Determining system requirements — both hardware and software
Providing the company with concepts about the design of the new system
Discussing the plan for a new system or modifications to an existing system with clients or business managers
Evaluating system requirements and dissecting them into smaller, more manageable units in the case of large enterprise systems
Explaining the structure of the new system and programs required to developers and designers
Supervising the system development project, including organizing technical teams and allocating work so as to ensure efficient completion of the project
Guiding developers and designers throughout the course of the project
Monitoring the progress of the project
Creating and implementing testing processes to make sure the system works as planned
Managing system implementation and integration
Carrying out quality assurance procedures and monitoring the performance of the new or modified system
Preparing post-installation documentation for the organization or clients
Training personnel on operational and maintenance procedures
Discussing system requirements with clients or IT managers and assisting in planning the organization’s present and future IT strategy
Performing a project cost analysis and preparing a budget for IT systems and products if required

Keeping pace

Technologies are constantly emerging and evolving, causing organizations to frequently upgrade their systems and adopt new tools. Technical architects are usually responsible for redesigning and modifying existing systems or planning and implementing new systems.

A good technical architect must have up-to-date knowledge of current programming languages, applications, hardware, networking technologies, best practices, quality assurance standards, and domestic and international statutes regarding privacy, security, and other IT-related areas.

Training and background

Here's what you need to know to become a successful technical architect.Only an experienced and well-trained IT professional can perform a technical architect’s role. The job requires a diverse skill set because it involves both technical and managerial functions. Successful technical architects have a combination of advanced technical expertise and superior communication and leadership skills.

Usually, technical architects are required to have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, mathematics, electrical or electronics engineering, software development, business information systems, information technology, or a related subject. Some employers require a master’s degree in a relevant field.

Most organizations expect candidates applying for a technical or systems architect’s job to have between five and 10 years of relevant IT experience. During the interview process, recruiters might assess a candidate’s problem-solving and project management skills, knowledge of programming languages, operating systems, software testing and integration, and relevant products, and knowledge of enterprise networking systems and computer hardware.

Many companies prefer professionals with experience in programming, testing, software development, systems development, and analytics. It’s necessary to be conversant with current technologies and products in order to be able to identify the most appropriate software and hardware for a given system.

Certification

Certification is one way of demonstrating experience and expertise in specific technologies and best practices. Having the right credential can sometimes give the holder an edge over other candidates with similar qualifications and background, but without a relevant certification.

Popular certifications for technical architects include:

Salesforce Certified Technical Architect (CTA)

Salesforce is the industry leader in CRM cloud-based platforms. Salesforce CRM solutions are widely used in the enterprise as well as SMB segments. The CTA is the highest credential in Salesforce’s certification program.

Earning a Salesforce CTA certification demonstrates deep knowledge of several development platforms, as well as the holder’s ability to understand and evaluate customer needs and to design, develop, and implement a range of Salesforce solutions. Prerequisites include the Salesforce Application Architect and Salesforce System Architect certifications, and experience as specified.

Additional details are available online.

TOGAF 9

Here's what you need to know to become a successful technical architect.The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) standard is used by many large organizations worldwide. The TOGAF standard is the foremost framework and methodology for enterprise architecture. This vendor-neutral globally-recognized credential for enterprise architects is available at two levels: Foundation and Certified.

Additional details are available online.

Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA)

The RHCA is available in two specializations – RHCA in Infrastructure and RHCA in Enterprise Applications. This credential might suit IT professionals who work for organizations that use Red Hat Enterprise Linux technologies.

Additional details are available online.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional credential is designed for experienced Amazon Web Services architects who have experience evaluating organizational needs and designing, implementing, and managing AWS solutions to best suit those needs.

Additional details are available online.

ITIL Master

This credential is designed for professionals who have at least five years of managerial or leadership or senior advisory experience in IT service management. The ITIL Master certification emphasizes experience in IT service management and successful candidates must demonstrate the ability to apply ITIL principles, approaches, and processes in IT operations and IT services.

Additional details are available online.

Be prepared

Becoming a technical architect is a fairly demanding undertaking, but it is worthwhile for IT professionals with the right education, aptitude, experience, and skill set to work toward this role. It is a stimulating and rewarding job that offers technical professionals the opportunity to design systems that help to improve an organization’s business delivery and prospects.

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Reena Ghosh

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Reena Ghosh is an independent ghostwriter who writes promotional, developmental and explanatory content for individuals and businesses. She came to professional writing with work experience in financial services operations and corporate communication. Reena speaks three languages and hopes to learn Sanskrit. She is a wanderer who spends time in West Bengal, Goa and any place that pulls.

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