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Architects – Masters of Order and Unorder? Square Peg in a Round Hole? Communicating the architecture – making sure that everyone understands the architecture. The architect defines the structure and organisation of the system.
The architecture describes the system’s components, their responsibilities and interactions. A complex system is more than the sum of its parts. It must have a unifying, coherent structure. Specifications and interfaces of components to be bought or built.
In an agile development team many people will contribute to these things. The agile architect will help all team members to contribute to the architecture, taking good ideas from everyone and making them part of a coherent whole. The architect may also adapt ideas originating elsewhere, but without losing the team’s ownership of the solution. The architect will lead choosing the technology, and confirm that the choices are viable.
He or she must therefore be aware of the alternatives, and factors that choose between them, and understand what technical issues are key to the project’s success. The architect is frequently an evangelist for new or different technologies, processes or solutions. However, he also has a responsibility to help manage change, which may mean reining in his enthusiasm where risks and costs would outweigh the benefits. The solution must meet the users’ needs, but not necessarily every wish and constraint.