Inside Software Architecture
As part of Searchability's new technical content series we've been catching up with the experts that are helping drive the sector forward in their current UK companies. Today we spoke to Graeme Wilson, a Software Architect at Docman who has almost 20 years' experience within the tech industry:
For those of us that aren’t that technical, how would you summarise what the role of Software Architect is within a company?
The role varies from one organisation to another. In general, it’s someone with a high degree of technical experience who’s business focused. Often the architect’s role is to work with functions outside of software development, e.g. sales, marketing, product development and operations where they’re creating a two-way conversation that informs how an organisation’s products are conceived, developed and maintained. An architect is generally a design authority. Some architects never code, some, like me, are hands-on.
Looking at your LinkedIn profile you can see that you have extensive experience within the tech sector, what is it that excites you about working in this field?
As a teenager I used to build electronic gadgets, I’d be called a Maker nowadays, and my first computer which I soldered together myself, was a Microtan 65 way back in the early 80s. It had a hex keypad, no keyboard. I suppose I’ve always been a techie and I find it hard to imagine doing anything else. Maker isn’t a bad term actually. I make stuff and that’s exciting!
What would you say are the biggest challenges for a Software Architect leading a development team / project?
Keeping everyone on the same page. Making sure that the team are open, warts-and-all, and that the rest of the business understand and accept where the project is at.
We are seeing a lot of companies moving into an Agile way of working for their development teams – what would you say are the main benefits of a business adopting this method?
It’s true that a lot of organisations are trying Agile but perhaps not all of them actually become Agile. The whole point of Agile is to improve quality and de-risk development by improving the culture of the organisation. By ‘improve’ I include failing early, calling out problems, admitting delay. Not every organisation is ready for that level of honesty. When it works I generally find increased levels of enthusiasm and increased productivity, certainly increased quality of product.
For those companies that haven’t moved to Agile yet, what do you think the main opposition to this would be?
You’re not agile because you have a scrum board and do a 10 minute stand-up every day. Agile is a change for the whole organisation. You won’t generally find developers being resistant to becoming agile – but the changes to the way of working for the rest of the organisation can be very difficult to realise.
In your opinion, what qualities / experience would you look for in a Software Architect?
Being a good listener.
What has been the proudest moment / achievement in your career so far?
Watching the various emotions in a room full of people when I demonstrated something that could have potentially consigned 20 years of product heritage to history. Never let someone else tell you something “can’t be done”.
With tech we are always looking to the future – what changes / trends do you think we will see in the industry in 2017?
I’ll be focusing on working towards cross-functional teams, moving away from project based teams. I can’t talk technology in case a competitor is reading!
If you could offer one piece of advice to people out there looking to start a career in Development / Software Architecture what would it be?
Don’t give up.
Software Development Recruiter at Searchability