So you want to be a software architect. Part 2. Important.

Last time I’ve started talking about the skills that I think are required for a software architect. The plan was to go over other skills, leaving the one I consider the most important (as of today) for the last. But I think that this should go first.

Influence

Software architect must be able to influence other people, if he wants to see his architecture properly implemented in the final product. The last condition (proper realization of the architecture in the product) is important point whether architect should influence people or not. You see – if architect is only interested in just a set of UML diagrams that she passes to the development team and doesn’t care about the final product, than she should not worry about the influence. Because these diagrams are her final product. If this is how you see your role, than you can skip this post.

Why influence is important? In most companies developers and QA do not report to architect, they report to development/QA managers. And these managers do not report to architect. So, if manager decides to change the way that product should be built than it may be way different than what you have envisioned. And there is not too much that you can do about it. Because even a junior developer will do what he is told by his manager and not by you. This is why the only way for you to see your design in the final product is to “convince” a manager how it should be built. Otherwise you can be very disappointed (if you really care about the final product):

Your vision Actual product
84A613BA-AC7B-4EC0-8ACB-CC426098D71A 9F3C3243-EA51-4DA2-93D9-865CA009C13C

Thus, the most important skill for a software architect has nothing to do with technologies, but rather with their “political” ability to achieve their goal. You have to be a “politician” in order to see the final product the way you’ve envisioned it. And sadly enough it’s even more important than your technical skills to design it. Of course, it depends on your company, but keep this in mind.

(To be continued)

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