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ITS Solutions Architects at NAU
The Solutions Architects (SA) Team is part of Strategic Planning, Implementation, and Educations Services within Information Technology Services (ITS). We are a service oriented partner that supports NAU as it seeks to carry out its mission by proposing sustainable, fiscally responsible solutions that improve efficiency and effectiveness.
We accomplish this through:
- Solution Design
- Request for Proposal (RFP)
Solution Design Accordion Open
Technology is constantly changing and often times the solution that has worked in the past may not be the best solution going forward. For instance, NAU may have access to new technology, key business processes may have changed, or technology we are currently using is no longer sustainable. When a new opportunity for change is presented, a Solutions Architects (SA) will work in collaboration with a business line Business Analyst (BA) or an Enterprise Business Analyst (EBA) to complete a solution design. The following outlines what this process typically looks like:
The BA or EBA will provide:
- A statement clearly outlining the goal we are trying to achieve.
- Detailed business requirements that are system agnostic.
- A current state process flow.
- A future state process flow that is system agnostic.
- Any other relevant details such as:
- Research of possible third-party vendors
- Known constraints and deadlines
Once sufficient documentation has been provided and accepted, the SA will:
- Review documentation and clarify any discrepancies
- Investigate possible solutions which include:
- Custom development
- Software currently available at NAU
- New 3rd party options
- Business process redesign
- Provide either a single recommendation or multiple solution options. The solution options will include:
- A summary of the pros/cons
- Known and potential risks
- Known limitations
- Potential timelines
- Estimated costs
After the solution has been presented, the SA will hand the project back to the business to move forward.
Request for Proposal (RFP) Accordion Closed
Occasionally, Solutions Architects will be asked to serve on an RFP Committee. A request for proposal or RFP is the formal process by which vendors propose a solution to a business need within a determined amount of time. Oftentimes the business need and/or proposed solution contains a technology component that needs to be evaluated for fit thus requiring ITS representation and knowledge.
When serving on an RFP Committee, an SA will either serve as the de facto ITS subject matter expert or they will serve as the liaison between other ITS subject matter experts. Either scenario will result in technical requirements being defined that are general in nature yet specific to the solution and will later on be included in the RFP document that vendors respond to. The areas represented in the technical requirements are as follows:
- ITS Infrastructure
- ITS Information Security
- ITS Service Desk
- ITS Desktop Services
- ITS Enterprise Information Services
- Accessibility (outside ITS)
Once the RFP has closed, vendor responses and offerings are evaluated by the RFP Committee including the Solutions Architects who makes a recommendation as to which solution best fits the technical requirements.
Consultation Accordion Closed
Even before a project is requested and reviewed, business areas may seek to gain an understanding on the technical ramifications of a change in process or solution. During a consultation, a Solutions Architects will evaluate the need as it is conveyed by the business and at a high level provide technical insight and direction on whether or not the request falls under an operational change or a project.
Very rarely will a consultation result in an end-state recommendation or solution design as both require thorough investigation and definition to the point of being able to meet the mission of the University. Nevertheless, the recommendation stemming from a consultation is important and beneficial as it enables the business to know what the next steps are in order to move forward with the initiative.
For me details about having a SA assigned you can review our SA Resourcing Page.