When does the software architect stop being responsible for a solution? At the end of design? The end of deployment? 20 years after?

I love email comments!

Got a great comment on Tuesday of this week that posed an interesting question. It traverse the line between responsibility and ethics. I have to say I got it early Tuesday and thought about it from then until this morning without a resolution. I have a thought and a path but I am not sure that in the end I have an answer.

“What is the responsibility of an architect in relation to a solution they have designed.”

As architects we are bound to the organization we are designing a solution for.

Ethical Responsibility of an Architect to a Solution

  • Act as a core member of the organization
  • Gather relevant requirements
    • Ask the right questions in gathering requirements
      • How long do you plan on having this solution deployed?
      • How long do you normally have solutions deployed?
      • Why do projects fail?
      • Is this project fully funded?
      • Are there things you’ve already considered/looked at for this solution?
      • Will we be moving the solution to the cloud or building it on premise?
      • What are the biggest drivers for this solution – the right answer, the total cost or some combination of both?
      • Is technically acceptable lowest cost the only answer?

  • fairly evaluate all possible solutions with the intent of deploying the right technology
  • Fairly evaluate all cost options
  • Fairly evaluate the horizon of the solution

I was very happy with that answer above – the ethical responsibility of an architect to a software solution. But the second email arrived on Friday and I haven’t really been able to come up with a good answer. For how long? How long am I responsible for a solution?

If I design something how long am I responsible for that deployed solution? Or am I just responsible for the design? When in the ethical handbook of Software Architecture do you no longer have responsibility for a solution you designed, built and ultimately deployed.

I am left with the following question:

“Given that software architects design, build and deploy solutions where does their responsibility for that solution end? Or does it end after those three components and is bound only by a time factor (20 years? 10 years, until the last deployed component of the original solution is gone?”

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

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