SATURN 2015: Why They Just Don’t Get It: Communicating Architecture to Business Stakeholders (Session Notes)

Jochem Schulenklopper, inspearit, and Eelco Rommes, inspearit/cibit academy

by Jacob Tate, Mount St. Mary’s University

Jochem Schulenklopper gave a presentation concerning the topic of successfully communicating architecture to stakeholders. The title, “Why They Just Don’t Get It: Communicating Architecture to Business Stakeholders,” is very telling; stakeholders speak in different terms than software architects. But who needs to translate between these two groups? Schulenklopper proposed that it is up to the technically sound people – the architects in our example – to speak in a language understood by stakeholders.

This poses several challenges, however, because stakeholders speak a variety of languages including finance, security, and development, to name a few. Programming and application structure do not make sense to the guy who works in finance, so we have to learn how to speak his language. We can do this by “co-creating” a language throughout the architecting process. This is done by constantly communicating with the stakeholders in terms that you think they will understand and then acting on their feedback.

Again, this process introduces several challenges because the users may have different feedback from the database developers. It has been shown through modern research that to successfully conquer these communication challenges, software architects should spend about half of their time receiving input from stakeholders and trying to communicate to them what is being done to address their concerns. A successful architect can listen and understand stakeholders, address their concerns, check that they understand and then check again, and work on co-creating a common language. We know why they don’t get it, and now we need to be the ones to change that.

Follow the conference on Twitter @SATURN_news with the hashtag #SATURN2015

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