Role of Solution Architect
IMPORTANT: This is the first part of the discussion with Lahiru. Second part can be found on this web site once published.
The Script of the Episode:
00:40 Guest Introduction
01:27 Lahiru’s background
08:19 Lahiru’s experience with AI
09:19 Business Intelligence
09:56 UiPath Academy Training – Lahiru’s experience
15:07 What role did Lahiru pursue after academy?
18:03 How did the team in the corporate company grow?
21:16 What brought Lahiru to MVP role?
24:37 How to become an MVP?
30:19 How would Lahiru describe the role of solution architect?
33:03 If hiring SA what would be the requirements?
35:24 Main difference between the role of SA and Senior RPA Developer
37:31 Main Responsibilities of SA
38:29 People aspect of SA Role
41:16 Who is reporting to SA?
42:04 What does the coordination of developers look like?
46:01 What is SDD?
48:55 When is SDD created?
50:38 Can more than one person work on the solution?
51:39 How to transfer the information between developers and SA?
About the Guest: Lahiru Fernando, Executive Lead @ Boundaryless, Sri Lanka, UiPath MVP
Lahiru’s work journey has started when joining one of the local banks as an intern after finishing university back in 2011. Positions there gave him experience in various fields including business intelligence, software development, support, and mentoring. Lahiru decided to stick with business intelligence (working with Microsoft Technology, Azure) to become a BI Engineer. Staying in the area for around seven to eight years, he deepened his knowledge in AI (mostly in his personal time) and machine learning.
Two to three years ago Lahiru’s company partnered with UiPath and Lahiru started to learn about RPA from scratch. With his software development background, Lahiru managed to complete the academy and receive the certification after just two weeks! His certification helped the company to get the partnership with UiPath.
Interested in the topic he decided to join the UiPath Forum to connect with others and get to understand various roles. Also helping others with their certification and sharing his solutions at the UiPath Marketplace, Lahiru became a mentor for his colleagues. Later even people from the forum approached him with questions and nowadays he spends three to four hours per day with his mentees, talking to at least twenty people daily.
Lahiru became part of the first RPA team within his company and helped to certify five team members. He became the Lead Developer for Internal Automations and head of the team that consisted of people from different domains.
Lahiru became MVP in UiPath mainly because of his community engagement as he was very engaged with the forum, contributing to the marketplace, was there day and night. The Community from UiPath noticed his presence, wanted him to be one of the community moderators. This enabled him to organize stuff, discuss, and come up with different features. Lahiru also joined a couple of challenges and got to the list of most active people in the forum in 2019 in all four quarters.
Wanna become an MVP? You should be super active in the community and help others wherever you can. Showing yourself by trying to share the knowledge and making an impact is the way to go.
What is the role of a Solution Architect? According to Lahiru’s simple introduction, it is “kind of like the most knowledgeable guy on the RPA side who knows how to solve problems and do the development when needed and also to design a solution to any problem people put in front of him in terms of automation”. The role requires a certain level of experience in the technology itself, what are the features and capabilities, and the ability to come up with various ways to solve the problem.
What would be Lahiru’s requirements for SA? He would look for someone with certification (to know technology and concept) with at least 5-7 years of experience and at least 3-4 experiences with UiPath. It should be a developer or lead developer as they have seen the problems and know how to solve them.
What is the difference between the roles of SA and RPA senior developer? While the senior developer is mostly experienced in the technical side and guides the team along, the solution architect is not focused on the development itself but rather wider scope. “He needs to take care of the entire architecture of the solution which requires a high-level (bird-sight) view of the entire situation there.” This includes support for the business-people, trying to understand the business scenarios, and proposing different solutions.
When it comes to stakeholder management main responsibilities of Solution Architect are:
- Working with:
- Business Analysts
- Lead Developer & Development Team
- Infrastructure & Support and Maintenance
- Getting reports from:
- Development Team
- Development Team
- Coordination Measures:
- Daily stand-ups –> how progressing with the solution
- Various technical questions (discussed one-by-one)
- Communication with Business representatives and SMEs -> depends on the stage of project (ad-hoc)
- Communication with Process owner – usually twice a week (Monday, Friday)
As for the documentation – the Solution Design Document is “a very important document that you need to produce to the business at the end of the development to give them a detailed understanding of the solution they will get, including all the technical points.” There are different SDD formats.
Many people choose to split the document into two parts – SDD and DSD (design specification document). The latter includes specifics and details which enable the IT team to understand the solution. This significantly helps with possible troubleshooting in the future. SDD includes environment, reusable components, detailed architecture diagrams, information on whether the Orchestrator is used, how the communication is happening.
Most of the time multiple developers are working on the solution and SA laying down the entire design and creating the SDD: “The architect will have the entire solution in his mind and developers have to understand “imagine” his mind and develop that”. Thanks to the partially developed detailed SDD presented by the SA in discussion developers can understand what needs to be done. The discussion can also bring even better solutions sometimes.