The Three-Question Architectural Design Session (ADS)

I recently participated in an Architectural Design Session (ADS) with a client centered around their use of BizTalk Server. They are upgrading their environment and wanted to make sure they weren’t setting themselves up for failure. These types of engagements can be a lot of fun. But, they also can be a little intimidating going in. Having a roadmap of what the engagement looks like ahead of time really helps.

Our sales/solutions analyst who kicked off the engagement used to work with Microsoft. He shared with me three questions that he always had going into ADS meetings that were very helpful.

  1. Where are we today?
  2. Where do we want to be?
  3. What are the gaps from here to there?

With these three high-level questions in mind, I can interview a client about their current processes, architecture, code, configuration, deployment, documentation, practices, hardware, software, etc. From there we can move on to future-oriented questions in those same areas. That allows a simple gap analysis between the two.

The result of the ADS is a document that essentially outlines the answers given to these three questions. The gaps section can be extended to propose solutions to bridging current-state and future-state. That is the stuff a project is made of!

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