If workplace databases don't communicate properly or applications can't handle everything you need to do your job, your information technology department might need to assign a solution architect and business analyst to help design a better way to transact business. The business architect meets with you first, asking questions and exploring what you need technology to do for you. The solution architect then does exactly what her title says: she designs a solution.
Think of a business analyst as a liaison. She provides a bridge between IT department staff members, who focus on technology, and their colleagues on the business end of things, who rely on IT to enable them to do their jobs. The business analyst must understand company goals, strategies, processes and constraints from a business viewpoint. She also needs to determine the role of data in delivering products and services. A business analyst documents current operations and business requirements to help IT come up with the best ways to keep business flowing both effectively and efficiently.
The business analyst's key partner in IT is a solution architect. Each business process could be said to represent a mathematical problem. The solution architect is responsible for finding technology solutions. An example of a technology solution could be a new software application. The solution architect uses the information documented by the business analyst to create a technology blueprint. She then works with a project management team in IT to implement her design, serving as a technical lead to make sure the solution stays on course as it transitions through project milestones.
Although analysts and architects do different things, they support one another, working together to meet a common goal. Their business stakeholders count on them to deliver a solution that helps the company operate efficiently, minimizing operational costs and maximizing profitability. The architect can't do her job without the input an analyst provides; without the architect, what the analyst does adds cost without providing value.
Skills and Qualifications
If you're considering either position, spend some time exercising your active listening skills so you can be sure to accurately capture all the information needed to deliver an efficient solution. Also make sure you can talk to business stakeholders without confusing them with technical jargon. Most hiring companies expect candidates for both positions to have a bachelor's degree. A business analyst's degree might be in computer science, finance or business administration. An architect should have a degree in computer science, along with specialized training in application development or infrastructure design.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.