For your convenience, our most common customer questions are answered right here.
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Q: Do you do anything besides Software Architecture Consulting?
A: Of course. We develop code, just as any other consulting company is able to do. We have been coding for well over two decades and have a great deal of experience in coding to specifications, whether our own, from your own company, or another contracting firm. We are also able to handle Database Design, Development, Programming, and Reporting.
Q: Why should my company choose you as a service provider?
A: There are several reasons, but we’ll provide two answers, here. The condensed answer is that our engagement is typically for a limited time. We agree to a scope of work, perform the work, and clean up any loose ends that may appear from time to time. This allows you the freedom to make plans, manage resources, and (most importantly) conduct your business.
It is possible that the technical depth required for a large scale project may be in short supply within an organization. There could be several reasons for this, some of which are side effects of really great initiatives. Maybe your company wants to hire developers who have just completed college, training them within your organization before bad coding habits take hold. Maybe you have a young organization, just starting out, and aren’t able to hire scores of developers at an extremely competitive wage. Both of these situations are wonderful and show that your company is doing its best to nurture the talent pool from within. We can help without being a significant, long term, drain on your precious resources. We can help get the team up to speed with a solid plan of action that makes good use of your current resources. We can also detect areas that may need improvement and, if requested, can offer suggestions as patterns become visible.
Q: My company wants to develop an application. Do we really need to engage an Architect?
A: Generally speaking, no. Some simple, task based applications can be created successfully by an independent developer of a reasonable skill level. Some more complex applications can also be created with small teams. When you need a highly complex application or suite of applications that has to be maintainable, communicate with one or more internal or external applications, and maintain a high rate of integrity and availability, you really need to consider bringing in an Architect. We can help you with this aspect of an important product delivery life-cycle. It is important to understand that developing without a very basic plan or requirements in place enables the dreaded scope creep to which most project fall victim. As soon as you realize that it will be a sizable project or that scope creep has impacted delivery times, call for help. It’s usually not too late to prioritize and manage a phased approach. It may even be possible to completely redevelop a project in less time than it took to get to the current point by making a few design changes. Call us in. We can help.
Q: What is your company’s role in the engagement?
A: We are completely flexible and allow you to set the terms of engagement, from both a scope and cost perspective. We can expand or contract our offerings based upon your individual situation, allowing you to maintain focus on what is most important: the end product, deadline, or costs. Engagement Packages (either timed or scoped) can be found in the left navigation menu.
There are multiple classifications of Architects and not all Architecture jobs are the same. The answers to the general role based question, as asked, is Design and Standardization. Design, of necessity, communicates not only the components that will be created or utilized, but also use cases, resource topography, data and process flow, and deployment models that will be put into place. This is, in no way, an exhaustive list of what an Architect does or what one should deliver, but it’s really a small sampling of the level of expertise that they should be able to bring to the table. Standardization seeks to put into place a common set of references, sometimes including naming conventions or code structures, so that as persons supporting the application are brought on to the project and others are rolled off of it, there is less confusion and “ramp up” time before those resources become productive. None of these deliverable items should be created in a vacuum. A successful Architect will consult and get buy in from the representatives of the stakeholders, while a common vision is being defined and documented.
Q: Will my team learn anything from an Architect?
A: A good Architect isn’t afraid to explain why the teams are being asked to build things certain ways. Their purpose isn’t just to design software, but to make it manageable over time. The only way that an Architect can complete the assignment knowing that the support is manageable is to explain why things are set up the way they are and how to troubleshoot common problems that will arise. Documentation plays a large part in these situations, providing information long after they disengage from a given project.
Q: If I hire an Architect, will I understand all of the documentation that they provide?
A: Unless you are proficient on a technical level, probably not. You will probably understand the Business Cases, Test Cases, Topographical Diagrams, and a few other parts, but most of the time, it’s best to just make sure that the Development Teams and their Leads (or managers) understand the documents. My all means, you should be satisfied with the work provided, but don’t bank on understanding all of it on your own. An Architect who takes pride in their work will make sure that there are either no questions during delivery or will leave an avenue open for continued dialogue (usually at a reduced fee or even free) if the Scope of Work was a finite engagement.
Q: Should I buy an existing application off of the shelf or develop software in house?
A: While this is a common question, it is also a question loaded with variables. Only you know your long term vision and existing capabilities, including your company’s technical expertise. Several applications were built to be both generic enough to apply to a wide range of situations, and targeted enough to be of real use without much change. If you are faced with a choice of an off the shelf product or something a bit more customizable, and making the wrong decision could negatively impact the company’s bottom line, we can help you make an informed decision.