Manager: On becoming a software architect

After spending past couple of years managing a small team of 8, this year I switched over to software architect’s role. I have completed my first 6 months as architect now. I am sharing my experience how the journey is as of now. The following are some of the key things that I noted

Role

The first and foremost question that came to me was “what should I do now?” Should I continue to do the same thing what I am doing or do something different as an architect. The role of an architect was not clear to me and because of that I am not sure where do I stand as an architect.

Expectations

The architects role is mostly given to a senior developer who has proven his design capability in a couple of the modules. I too come with a similar background (imaging and 3d being my area of specialization). But moment I was made an architect the entire team of 30 developers expect me to know the solution to all the development problems. Sometimes when I say I don’t know the direct solution and ask the developer to look into a particular area for solution they look puzzled and feel bad.

No Team

The next major area of discomfort is due to my managerial background. Suddenly I don’t have a direct set of team members to report under me. This has created some kind of void for me. But I have lot of time and feel lot lighter because of this. But I miss the task allocation, tracking and pressure to deliver on time.

Decisions

As an architect I need to make lot of decisions within a short span of time. Developers come with a problem and a couple of solutions. Now it is up to me to choose one among them. I am slowly learning to make informed decisions faster. The thing I lack is to remember the decisions that I took sometime in the past. I need to find a way to document the decisions or else when I go back with a concern regarding particular implementation the developer responds back that ”you asked me to do so”.

Trainings

There is a bunch of architecture trainings for which I have been nominated. Each of the training starts with the objective of defining what a software architect should do and details a list of established process and methodologies for that. After attending all those trainings I understood that now I need to communicate with more stakeholders and take ownership.

Communication

As an architect the communication does not stop at the architecture specification document. Because normally the entire development team do not adhere to those guidelines just like that. I need to make substantial effort in communicating each architectural aspect to the teams clearly and concisely. Sometimes white board and a closed room is far better than a power point presentation or a word document. Even after so much communication I need to accept that there will be deviations that I need to live with.

Respect

The one thing that brings lot of sense and satisfaction is majority of the team members show lot of respect.

-Ferose