Often, good architecture decisions come from good architects. Most people have generally agreed that architects with strong technical and business knowledge and experience are highly qualified professionals. However, knowledge and experience rarely correlate with good architectural decisions. It's not uncommon to see a 4 person team (with each having solid knowledge and experience) make terrible architectural design decisions after 6 months of work. Then a new architect arrives and designs something perfect for the project in 6 hours. Why does this happen. Why? Many would say "he/she gets the big picture"; I call it architectural perspective. And i realized in the last 2 years that we really don't take architectural perspective seriously.
So what is Architectural Perspective?
Simply, it’s the significant ecosystem or environment that a specific architecture impacts or is impacted by. It’s the lens with which architects and their stakeholders analyze decisions.
From past work and observing and interviewing others in the field, I’ve put together an initial Perspective Impact Analysis Framework (PIAF) version 1 with the for core areas
For Common Architectural Design, we populated the areas for APIA (Architecture Perspective Impact Analysis)
The Solution Requirements area includes:
Stakeholders, Executive Sponsor(s), Business Metric
Requirements, Communications Requirements, Tactical Requirements
Functional Requirements, Non-Functional/Systemic-Quality Requirements
Currently utilized Solution
The IT Environment area includes:
Corporate IT Standards, Enterprise Architectural Environment
IT Operations Environment, Other Solutions (existing and planned)
Technical Constraints, Time Constraints, IT Constraints
Risk Tolerance level
The Business Environment area includes:
Business Process Standards, Business Metric Standards
Financial Environment, Capital / Operating Budgets, Purchasing, Supply-Chain
General Market Trends, Industry Trends, Business Trends
Technology Trends, Solution Trends
Architectural Design Trends
Process Trends, Resource Trends, Supplier Trends
Take any architecture design artifact and look at a specific decision. How does it impact or is impacted by the multiple areas above?
Of course, an architect doesn’t have to use only APIA for perspective analysis. With PIAF, architects can develop new characteristics in the areas that are unique to your specific situation (example: point of sale system in large retail store environments, retail banking system, high performance computing system, Identity Management System, Datacenter design environment, etc…) These are all called Architectural Perspective Patterns (APP).
While design and solution patterns focuses on the reusable components to assemble architecture with more predictability, APP focuses on a consistent view of customer and initiative environments while promoting increased empathy for architecturally significant areas. Hopefully, it’s a way to get the “the big picture”.