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People of Symphony starring Admir Pehratovic: Defining the Arches that Support the Solutions Architect Role

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Symphony
November 8th, 2021

Admir joined Symphony over five years ago as a Software Engineer, and as he pointed out, it was a definite turning point in his career. In this article, Admir touches upon the exhilarating journey that brought him to the Solutions Architect position, what he learned along the way, and all the complexities of this unique role within Symphony.

 The Quest for Greater Challenges

Before coming to Symphony, Admir sensed a strong need for a change of pace and new challenges when a couple of colleagues introduced him to Symphony, and a new chapter slowly started unfolding. Admir was assigned to a project right away and immediately clicked with the team. It was an entirely different environment of nourishment and mutual support that grew over the years. 

Admir began working as a Python Software Engineer on a project that allowed him to expand his knowledge in various fields, combining full-stack engineering with DevOps knowledge on infrastructure and systems. Hence, the Team Lead role came naturally. He shifted through several projects before he finally embarked on his Solutions Architect journey. 

A Solutions Architect’s place within Symphony

“I must say I resisted becoming a Solutions Architect at first because I felt it would move me even farther away from the technical side of the story. However, our Head of Software Engineering and Service Delivery Manager helped me understand the many elements intertwined in a Solutions Architect role, from technical to strategic development, testing, and getting a better grip of the system as a whole. It was simply a time for a step up from the Team Lead role, and it proved to be the right choice and the perfect timing for an upgrade.” - Admir started his story. 

“Switching to an entirely new position has its challenges, but the highly detailed onboarding plan prepared by our People Operations combined with strong mentorship from my new teammates were the wind beneath my wings that I needed.” - he added. 

The Solutions Architect role has many different layers, and as Admir puts it - “it contains the best of both worlds in a sense.” It was vital for him to still have his hands on the technical development on each project and build an engineering approach with the teams by readily sharing his knowledge and previous experiences.  

“The biggest challenge was to come to terms with the non-technical requirements. As a developer, I never really considered the scalability of a solution, how well it will perform in the next five years or so, and whether it will fit in the system as a whole. It was usually taken care of by someone else while I was focused on the code, and giving my best to complete the given tasks. As a Solutions Architect, you must be prepared to optimize in accordance with the project requirements.” - Admir emphasized, adding that - “It is imperative to consider all the factors that come into play when setting up the architecture and finding the best solutions for the project. No solution is set in stone, and the aim is to make the best possible tradeoff at the given moment.”

Another challenge Admir faced when becoming a Solutions Architect was onboarding new team members to a project he was assigned to, ensuring that everyone understood the process requirements, and setting up quality standards that consistently need to be met. 

Admir broke down his work process and the necessary steps to achieve a great product -“It is crucial to adopt the mindset of the Product being our own. When this is adopted, it is easier to set up a process of performing an "Architecture review" for the features. The process includes analyzing the application's current state and an intensive process of collecting and understanding requirements. Once enough inputs are collected, an architecture decision is made and presented to the client, with a clear idea of what to achieve, how to do it, and the timeline of getting there. Setting up and implementing tasks is not going to benefit the client in its own right. Solid baseline, structure, and growth strategy are equally important, and those are all blended in a Solutions Architect position.” - he emphasized.

Admir likes to be in the loop with every phase of the process and strongly believes in the power of teamwork and valuing everyone’s input. “Sometimes I can overlook an important detail that my teammates will notice, and that is how strong cross-functional teams successfully work on stepping up the process.”

The project he is currently working on has a rather specific architecture and very detailed technical documentation. For this reason, Symphony organized an internal knowledge-sharing session where every team member got a chance to share their experience and best practices. The initiative was a big success, giving immense value to all the teams and expanding the community’s technical strengths even further. In his words - “While working on this project, I have improved my communication and presentation skills, learned to collaborate more efficiently with team members, and worked on upgrading the existing processes and systems. Most importantly, we have built mutual trust with the client, giving us the freedom to suggest and implement solutions that we deem the best possible fit.”

Big Picture Thinking

When asked to describe his career climb, Admir said that it was mainly dictated by the technologies he worked in. There are always a number of factors to consider on the journey, from the market demand to your preferred niche and adaptive skills. There is no such thing as a predefined career path, and Symphony invests a lot of time crafting a genuine development plan for each employee according to their current aspirations.

The switch to a Solutions Architect role made him look at things as a whole instead of just focusing on the individual parts. As he pointed out - “Big picture thinking is key. You always need to have the client’s roadmap and goals in mind. You estimate what comes next, how well it will integrate with the current system and function in synergy with any future additions. You strive to be at least five steps ahead.”

“When I look back at the past year, I must say how I was given just enough time and opportunities to grow, work on my weaker spots, while elevating the stronger ones, both in the technical and managerial aspects. On the other hand, I realized in what ways I can contribute while trusting my colleagues to take over tasks that further nourish their potential. Most importantly, I couldn’t have done it without my team, giving me support, selflessly sharing knowledge, and being my number one sanity check.” - Admir concluded.