Software Architecture

Software Designed for Your Business

Today many organizations are software companies, whether they acknowledge it or not. Modern commerce is at a point where software is in most cases required to conduct business transactions - and many companies sell software products as their primary line of business. Small companies can often simply use off-the-shelf software solutions for their needs; however, large organizations typically implement internal solutions to retain control over the full customer engagement lifecycle.

Well-architected and well-designed software should appear to take a step back from the purpose it serves, almost becoming invisible. A user of such a software system should perform the function they need to without the system hindering their process. Reaching this point of seamless accessibility and function is challenging, but attempting to do so means businesses can significantly enhance user satisfaction, customer loyalty, spending, and reach.

Identify Flaws Early

Many types of flaws arise during the implementation phase of a software system. Diligence and additional processes are required during development to minimize the incidence and severity of such defects. Today this typically means constant testing, iteration, and refinement throughout the implementation of a software product. Functional flaws generally are allocated the most considerable attention for fixing; however, many other types of faults can remain - and may have a significant negative impact on user satisfaction. These include usability flaws, having users perform convoluted journeys to complete simple functions; performance and scalability issues, where the system cannot meet user demand; or most severely, security issues, where confidentiality of customers and their data is compromised.

Flaws are cheaper to resolve the earlier they are identified. Modern software development practices encourage ongoing, iterative identification and resolution; however, it is also vital to conduct sufficient up-front architecture and design work to avoid as many issues as possible ahead of time. The “best” flaw is one that is purposefully never encountered, where development time is not wasted in reaching it, backing out a flawed implementation, nor finding a way to resolve or work around it. Establishing robust software architecture practices as part of a broader software product delivery lifecycle can significantly help mitigate flaws ahead of time and reduce the impact of any flaws that are encountered.

What Is Software Architecture Design?

Similar to physical buildings, an architecture design is a blueprint for building and operating a software system. Architecture should identify a system’s major components, the responsibility that each piece fulfills (how areas map to business processes), the data required within each area, how communication happens across boundaries, and how each part should be deployed and scaled. Every system has such a blueprint; however, some systems may only have an implicit blueprint if their architecture is not documented externally to the software implementation itself. For simple products, an implicit architecture may be enough. As systems increase in scope and size, the importance of having a well-documented architecture blueprint grows.

Good software architecture should identify the logical and physical layouts of the system components. If produced ahead of time, the system’s implementation can use the architecture design as a template for exactly what to build. However, in the real world, where requirements and technologies are continually evolving, it is next to impossible to produce a perfect architecture at the start of development. Software architecture differs from traditional architecture in this way - software design and implementation need to adapt over time to meet ever-changing needs from the business, customers, and the broader technology industry.

Why Develop with SitePen

SitePen has helped organizations design, implement, and deliver successful software systems for many years across various industries and scales. Our team comprises a wealth of expertise from first-stage startups through to the largest multinational enterprise corporations. We can help in every phase of the software product lifecycle, including requirements analysis, enterprise and software architecture, user experience and interface design, system implementation, infrastructure planning, and delivery to end-users. Our team can help as an integrated part of your internal delivery capability or operate as a standalone end-to-end solution delivery function. Our architecture services range from broad-brush enterprise strategy down to individual product design and implementation.

Software Architecture Services

Consulting, Evaluation & Analysis

Whether you are looking to implement a new software solution, review an established system to meet new goals, or just find the best way technology can help target specific opportunities, SitePen can help. We can assess your current or future software ecosystem against your intended market and product roadmap to find the best marriage between technology and business. Our approach to software architecture and surrounding analysis is firmly rooted in pragmatism and encourages iterative delivery that continuously achieves success throughout a project’s lifespan.

Software Architecture Analysis Method

Our process involves working with all relevant product stakeholders to gather all pertinent requirements across areas such as business functionality, security, integration, platform capabilities, capacity projections, infrastructure needs, operational concerns, timeframes, budget, and any other pertinent organizational policies. This requirements analysis forms the basis for future software design and implementation phases. When assessing an existing system, the process factors in the current implementation and its usage. To more effectively meet new business needs, ways to adapt, extend, or possibly replace the system are analyzed.

Software Architecture Design

With a solid foundation of requirements and assumptions established and agreed upon, SitePen can design an architecture blueprint that enables delivering a successful product that best meets all needs. This phase is a natural continuation of the analysis phase together with full stakeholder engagement. Our goal with architecture design at SitePen is to deliver robust blueprints that are achievable given any necessary compromises and not ivory tower concepts that are unattainable. This phase may also include proofs-of-concept where a choice between multiple optimal solutions may exist. Proof-of-concept validation before investing in a full implementation effort can also be useful in proving an intended direction will adequately meet requirements.

Software Architecture Implementation

With an architecture established, SitePen will advocate the design amongst project stakeholders to ensure everyone is in alignment with the intended direction. Having the decision points and rationale behind the choices made in defining the architecture accessible to everyone involved is key to fostering cohesive understanding while minimizing confusion. When dealing with technology teams, this includes overseeing adherence to the architecture throughout implementation while also considering any implementation, testing, deployment, or other challenges that may arise. If encountering any such issues, SitePen will adapt or extend the architecture as needed to best address the problem and move forward with minimal project impact. Where desired, SitePen can also directly take on the software implementation, whether as part of your existing delivery teams or as a completely standalone delivery function.

Infrastructure Analysis

Understanding capacity requirements and ensuring efficient infrastructure usage is equally important to the success of a software system. SitePen can help analyze software component runtime requirements and expected usage projections to design an efficient and cost-effective infrastructure hosting topology that is flexible enough to meet user demand changes. Our expertise covers both internal on-premise infrastructure as well as storage and compute cloud technologies from a range of third party vendors.

Industries We Serve

At SitePen, we have applied our expertise across a wide range of industries and solution scales. We have worked on products for financial services, technology (proprietary and open-source), public services, hospitality, and recreation industries, amongst others. Our work includes discrete business-to-customer and business-to-business solutions and internal cross-cutting concerns such as technology strategy setting, requirements analysis, user experience & user interface design, software and cloud infrastructure design, migration, uplift, and software solution implementations.

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Software Architecture FAQs

How Long Does Architecture Analysis and Design Take?

When conducted well, architecture analysis and design should occur throughout the full lifecycle of a software system. However, this does not mean it requires 100% allocation throughout a project’s timeline - the critical point where architecture is most required is part of project ideation and early implementation. The pillars laid out as part of a software system’s architecture can significantly impact the direction and cost of full implementation, so they are best established before implementation occurs. In this way, architecture is most effective when it is “shifted left” or “shifted early” in the project plan. The need for constant architecture input should naturally taper off as implementation stabilizes.

Why Is Architecture Analysis and Design Important?

Software implementations that do not cater to some form of architecture design, planning, and review will typically require significantly higher investment to achieve success. Releasing a system in an unknowingly-compromised state forces businesses to endure a loss of customer confidence and reduced revenue. This extra hidden cost comes in through several overlapping angles - wasted effort implementing fundamentally flawed paths, backtracking and rewriting areas to achieve stated goals, as well as losses in business and customer confidence through insufficient capacity planning.

Having a robust architecture process as part of your software implementation lifecycle can significantly mitigate these risks, allowing you to deliver successful products with minimal issues.

What Makes Good Software Architecture?

Good software architecture gets out of the way and appears invisible. Users can perform their tasks efficiently and conduct their business without impediments in a well-architected system. Good software architecture should support the business’s goals and the system’s users while being as efficient with resources as possible. Well-architected systems should scale to meet a wide range of user demands without overprovisioning unnecessary software and infrastructure. Well-architected systems should also be secure, providing robust protection for user and information confidentiality that conform with relevant regional operational requirements.

Who Can Benefit From Architecture Analysis?

Architecture analysis can help all organizations that deal with bespoke software systems, whether they have internal technology teams that handle the software’s implementation or contract out to third party delivery vendors. These firms rely on custom software systems to conduct their business and significantly benefit from architecture analysis and assessment and design and implementation support. Ideally, architectural oversight would happen before and during the implementation of a new system. However, they can also provide benefits when done as a post-completion review. While some systems may prove adequately successful with their initial launch, over time, changes in industry, market, and user expectations may necessitate further architecture work. Operational systems may need to be further analyzed to see how they can be extended, improved, or potentially replaced to more effectively meet current requirements.
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