Welcome to the #DaletTeam blog series! Every project starts with a vision and before that vision can be realized, it must be mapped into a plan. Today we talk with Jeremy Schoen, head of solution architecture for the Dalet West Coast office in Los Angeles, about his role and helping Dalet customers turn their visions into reality.
Solution Architects have a global vision of media workflow projects, from the deep technical details, to the business workflows of the customers and financial implications they have. They need to be savvy in system sizing and complex IT architectures as well as be articulate and explain workflows in a clear and simple way for non-technical users. They need to engage with on the ground engineers as well as C-Level executives and be fluent in many aspects of the project lifecycle. From a global project vision to the smallest details, their involvement is key to a successful project implementation!
A key responsibility of Dalet Solution Architects is to present to Dalet customers how we will manage the implementation of their upcoming project. I am a visual person and enjoy playing with analogies. So I often compare implementing a Dalet system to building a new house as there are many similarities.
Creating the Blueprint
After the Sales and Pre-sales teams have gathered requirements on the number and type of rooms, shown a few model houses, and determined the overall budget, it is time for the Solution Architect to step in.
The great thing about this comparison is that almost everybody knows what a residential architect does. They design the plans, complete calculations and specifications of the house, while staying within their client’s budget. That is, in a nutshell, what a Dalet Solution Architect does.
When I first walk into a meeting with a customer, I try to understand what they really care about. I capture who they are, what content they produce, for which audience and what pain points they are trying to resolve with Dalet solutions.
A key assignment of the Solution Architect is to conduct the Solution Design Workshop, which is usually composed of three stages. These stages are generally an iterative process, and typically require a couple of revisions before sign-off.
- Stage 1: Listening to the customer’s requirements, understanding their experiences, and reconfirming the assumptions made at the sales level. Some customers will tell you they want green walls, but by listening to the actual need and using our knowledge of existing workflows, sometimes we realize there is no need for a wall in the first place. In my opinion, this stage is the most critical as this becomes the foundation on which the whole house will be built upon or in this case, the customer’s media ecosystem.
- Stage 2: Building a small Proof of Concept (POC) system with mini concepts or shells to demonstrate key components. At this stage, the customer is engaging actively and begins projecting and customizing. The product starts to take form and the workshops, happening in small groups of five to eight people, help passing key concepts to the rest of the organization.
- Stage 3: Writing a detailed specification document that will be a guide for both the customer and the Dalet project engineers to build the system. This is where it all comes together, the plans are finalized and everything is put on paper. This document will be continuously updated to reflect the status of the project.
While the vast majority of our customers’ needs are covered “out-of-the-box” by our solutions, sometimes a new feature is needed. In such cases, the Solution Architect is instrumental in specifying the requirement and helping define the feature for our product team.
The Building Begins
At this stage, the house is ready to be built and the engineers come on site and start implementing the solution. However, the Solution Architect’s job does not stop there. A Dalet project is often dynamic and customers’ minds evolve and ideas are born. Dalet has to stay agile and adapt to the situation.
To stay connected, the Solution Architect works closely with the engineers on the ground to discuss any questions or document any changes necessary for the design. They also work closely with the sales and pre sales department in case a change requires new budgeting options and financial adjustments.
If you think you possess or want to develop some of these skills and are looking for a new challenge, feel free to drop me a note!
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