Importance of Methodical Approach & Architectural Strategy for IoT Solutions

DigitalIntelligence

Without using an established method, creating IoT (Internet of Things) solutions can be daunting because projects might take more time, generate more costs, and pose more risks for end products and services.

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IoT solution architects and designers must start the solution process by using a methodical approach, principally because architecture is all about structure.

Using a methodical approach, these technology leaders can develop solutions in a systematic and structured manner. The benefit of using an architectural method is that it can guide the team toward what steps to take, in what order to take them, and how to perform the required tasks.

To create IoT solution architectures, the team must follow an established method rather than re-inventing the wheel. Following an established method allows IoT solution architects and designers to achieve predictable and repeatable results. These methods have evolved through multiple uses. In turn, the techniques behind these methods have also evolved through the reuse of successful implementations and the lessons learnt from failed projects.

Business organisations that provide technology solutions may have their own proprietary methods. Some organisations adopt industry-based standard architectural practices, such as Zachman, or open-source methods, such as TOGAF. In contrast, others mix the well-established methods and develop a unique solution pathway for the technical solution teams.

Each method has its own work-products, and although different names can be used, the outcome generally remains the same. Based on my experience using various methods, the most common architectural work-product names are Requirements Matrix, Use Cases, Architectural Decisions, Solution Viability, System Context, Definitions, Models such as Component and Operational Models and Deployment Roadmap, among others. Work products resemble templates in reference architectures.

The method we choose usually prompts us to start with a strategy in mind.

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The architectural strategy takes place at the beginning of an IoT solution. Strategies help the solution team to understand where they are now and where they are going. With this strategic approach in mind, an established method can help the team reach their destination in the most effective way. This means that setting the strategy and following the method are two key essential tasks in the earlier phase of IoT solutions.

More specifically, IoT solution architects and designers need to create an architectural strategy document, which is also called a solution strategy. The solution strategy needs to be documented by the lead IoT solution architect. The solution strategy document must be shared with the key technology, executive, and business stakeholders, and necessary approvals need to be obtained from them.

The solution strategy process provides an objective assessment of the current situation. It aligns project goals with the organisational mission and ensures that all gaps are covered. The solution strategy document also documents the opportunities, threats, strengths, and weaknesses of the project from the technical, commercial, legal, and financial angles.

We know that the strategy of a solution hardly changes in the later phases of the solution process. Therefore, the solution strategy artifact must be understood and approved at earlier phases of the solution lifecycle.

However, the technology team can make the strategy flexible by creating changeable tactics to empower the approved solution strategy. These tactics can also be documented and approved as part of the solution architecture approval process in design authority forums.

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Once the strategy is set, documented, and approved, the IoT lead solution architect starts the requirements management process by setting up a Design Thinking workshop.

In large size projects, the lead architect can delegate the requirements analysis for each domain to the allocated IoT domain solution architects. This is because IoT applications' requirements may be different from the requirements for the infrastructure or integration domains. However, the Lead IoT Solution Architect undertakes the requirements analysis for all IoT domains in a smaller size project.

To conclude, using an approved method is essential for the success of IoT solutions. Furthermore, setting the strategy at the early phase and enriching the strategy with tactical changes can increase the success of projects and substantially reduce risks at later stages.

Thank you for reading my perspectives.

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