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The role of the solutions architect is the person who organises the development effort of a systems solution. The solutions architect is responsible for the development of the overall vision that underlies the projected solution and transforms that vision through execution into the solution. The solution architect becomes involved with a project at the time of inception and is involved in the functional analysis of developing the initial requirements. They then remain involved throughout the balance of the project.
The solutions architect is an expert in many categories. They must have hands-on experience in multiple industries and across several disciplines. They must have a mastery of various hardware platforms including mainframes, distributed platforms, desktops, and mobile devices. Akin to that they must also possess skill and understanding of a variety of Operating Systems including mainframe systems. A broad and deep understanding of Databases is also essential with knowledge of Relational Databases.
Solutions architects decide which technologies to use. They work very closely with developers to ensure proper implementation. They are the link between the needs of the organisation and the developers.
A solutions architect does not work in isolation. They will work as part of a team of architects who look at enterprise architecture, technical architecture and security architecture. All architects work closely with key stakeholders from the business to ensure that the needs of the business are being met by the architecture teams.
A solutions architect exhibits a combination of capabilities from the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) and from the Queensland Public Service Leadership competencies for Queensland Framework.
Within the SFIA profile, the solutions architect has level 5 capabilities, i.e. ensures and advises on the skills outlined below.
Refer to the framework for descriptions of the seven levels of responsibility and accountability.
SFIA skill code
SFIA skill level of responsibility
SFIA skills level descriptor
Leads the development of solution architectures in specific business, infrastructure or functional areas. Ensures that appropriate tools and methods are available, understood and employed in architecture development. Within a change programme, leads the preparation of technical plans and, in liaison with business assurance and project staff, ensures that appropriate technical resources are made available. Provides advice on technical aspects of solution development and integration (including requests for changes, deviations from specifications, etc.) and ensures that relevant technical strategies, policies, standards and practices (including security) are applied correctly.
Takes responsibility for understanding client requirements, collecting data, delivering analysis and problem resolution. Identifies, evaluates and recommends options, implementing if required. Collaborates with, and facilitates stakeholder groups, as part of formal or informal consultancy agreements. Seeks to fully address client needs, enhancing the capabilities and effectiveness of client personnel, by ensuring that proposed solutions are properly understood and appropriately exploited.
Actively maintains recognised expert level knowledge in one or more identifiable specialisms. Provides definitive and expert advice in their specialist area(s). Oversees the provision of specialist advice by others, consolidates expertise from multiple sources, including third party experts, to provide coherent advice to further organisational objectives. Supports and promotes the development and sharing of specialist knowledge within the organisation.
Emerging technology monitoring
Monitors the external environment to gather intelligence on emerging technologies. Assesses and documents the impacts, threats and opportunities to the organisation. Creates reports and technology roadmaps and shares knowledge and insights with others.
Queensland Government roles align with the Leadership competencies for Queensland.
Leadership competencies for Queensland describes what highly effective, everyday leadership looks like in the sector. In simple, action-oriented language, it provides a common understanding of the foundations for success across all roles. The profile describes three performance dimensions (vision, results and accountability) and 11 leadership competencies required against five leadership streams.
Leadership streams are not connected to a level or classification, but rather reflect the balance between leadership and technical skills required of an individual. Individuals can consider the ‘value proposition’ of roles rather than the traditional lens of hierarchical structures or classification levels. The five leadership streams are:
- Individual contributor (Leads self and does not supervise others)
- Team leader (leads a team and typically reports to a program leader)
- Program leader (leads team leaders and/or multiple areas of work)
- Executive (leads program leaders or other executives)
- Chief executive (leads the organisation).
When developing a role description, identify the role type and then focus on the most important attributes and create a balance between SFIA skills and leadership skills.
Possession of a bachelor’s level degree is a must to work as a solutions architect. A detailed understanding of information technology and how the business works is essential to work in this role.
 The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) provides a common language that integrates with an organisation’s way of working, to improve capability and resource planning, resource deployment and performance management. This role profile quotes extensively from the SFIA, under licence from the SFIA Foundation. Information about the SFIA can be found at http://www.sfia-online.org/en
 The Leadership competencies for Queensland framework plays a key role in translating the government’s ‘talent management requirements’ into clear behavioural terms. The competencies can be utilised in talent management strategies, including workforce planning, talent acquisition, leadership development, capability development, performance management, career management and succession planning. The competences can be accessed here Leadership competencies for Queensland