What is a technical architect? 

Technical Architects can play a varied role depending on the requirements of the business at a particular point in time. In most organisations since the adoption of agile methodologies, the Technical Architect role has largely involved working with engineering teams, management, and business stakeholders to design and develop technology systems. 

The architect will be responsible for ensuring that the designs produced adhere to the organisation’s governance practices, identify opportunities, and work closely with engineering and the business to address solutions in the most appropriate means to meet the organisations business goals. 

It is vital that the architect has knowledge of both the business and technology to design and deliver the most appropriate solution. 

Depending on the position, the architect could be working with engineering on proof of concepts for business problems, updating strategy and managing stakeholder expectations. 

Roles typically involve… 

  • Designing technology systems 
  • Managing stakeholder expectations 
  • Working with the Software Development team on design and build 
  • Translate business problems into technical solutions 

Key responsibilities include: 

  • Ensuring that every aspect of the IT system works as planned 
  • Determining what an organisation needs 
  • Analysing the requirements of large systems and breaking them down into manageable units 
  • Researching available products to decide if they will be suitable for the project rather than building a completely new system 
  • Discussing plans for the structure of the system with the client 
  • Working with senior IT managers on planning for an organisation’s future IT requirements 
  • Ensuring that the organisation’s requirements are completely satisfied 
  • Ensuring the system meets the needs of those who will be using it. 

Practicalities of the Role 

IT projects do not always run smoothly, so on a day-to-day basis it may be necessary to deal with problems as they arise. As a project develops there will be considerable time spent monitoring progress and, where appropriate, monitoring teams of technical specialists. The job will also require writing progress reports on a regular basis. The ability to meet deadlines is important and may require work to be undertaken outside normal office hours from time to time. Working on technical infrastructure can be highly pressurised, so having the ability to calm is a useful trait. 

What ‘hard skills’ are required for the technical aspect of the job? 

  • Degree/Post-Graduate in IT, Computer Science, or relevant subjects 
  • Proven work experience as a Technical Architect  
  • Hands-on experience in software development and system administration 
  • Knowledge of strategic IT solutions 
  • Extensive knowledge of computer hardware and networking systems 
  • Familiarity with programming languages like Javascript, Java, SQL, C# 
  • Familiarity with operating systems like Windows, UNIX, and databases like MySQL 
  • Experience in cloud computing and cloud technologies 

What transferrable skills does a Technical Architect need? 

  • Well-developed communications skills so that a client’s requirements are passed on accurately to a technical team. 
  • Problem solving – an expert technical architect should be able to anticipate where problems might crop up and find solutions before the system gets deployed. 
  • Ability to deal with pressure – must be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines 
  • Ability to prioritize and manage time – IT projects often have fixed deadlines that cannot be averted 
  • Relationship building – Ability to form a good rapport with clients, managers, and colleagues as part of trust-building 

What experience is useful for someone wanting to become a Technical Architect? 

A background in analysis, systems development, testing or programming will be an advantage, as employers look for individuals who have a good understanding of what technologies are available and would be appropriate. On the non-technical side, a technical architect will be expected to be good communicator, able to manage clients effectively and pass on clear instructions to teams working on projects. The IT industry is constantly evolving, so candidates should be prepared to continue updating their skills and knowledge on a regular basis. 

Government Digital and Data Profession Skills Snapshot

The table below shows the skills required at each level:

SkillSenior Technical ArchitectLead Technical ArchitectPrincipal Technical Architect
1Bridging the Gap Between Technical and Non-Technicaln/aExpertExpert
3Making and Guiding DecisionsWorkingPractitionerExpert
5Turning Business Problems into Technical DesignPractitionerExpertExpert
6Understanding the Whole ContextWorkingPractitionerExpert
7Communication SkillsPractitionern/an/a

Some Friendly Advice 

Depending on experience, the Technical Architect is typically a senior position, and to become one, you’ll probably need to gain a wide breadth of skills working on various aspects of a project. It is difficult to get a Technical Architect job right after university – you will need to gather experience working in the IT sector. A good starting point can be a job in systems development, programming, or testing – and climbing up the career ladder thereafter.