Written by Ed Long
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31 May 2018  |  Culture

What Goes Into Being A Solutions Architect

3 minute read

As one of Paddle’s Solutions Architects, my aim is to help larger sellers plan their online sales setup and ensure they launch on time. Our goals as a team are pretty well aligned with our sellers' goals: we want them to get up and running smoothly and for their product to sell well.

What I Do as a Solutions Architect

As one of Paddle’s Solutions Architects, my aim is to help larger sellers plan their online sales setup and ensure they launch on time. Our goals as a team are pretty well aligned with our sellers’ goals: we want them to get up and running smoothly and for their product to sell well.

Before joining, I worked in another tech startup where I managed a semi-technical team working in business intelligence and data integrations in the compliance and due diligence sector.

For leads of a certain size and/or complexity, the Account Executives will bid for support from an SA, either ad-hoc or to develop an in-depth implementation plan. I also work closely with the Success and Product teams to document best practice and feed seller requirements into the product roadmap.

Our sellers all have a different development setup: some will be ready to kick off their implementation as soon as they get a plan in place, others are migrating in between other work so it’s important to get a good picture of their desired timeline and who is going to be doing the actual work. Above all, you need to make sure that the right resources are there for them at the right time.

My Typical Week

A typical week for me would involve a weekly sales team meeting, where we’ll check in on team KPIs and upcoming opportunities, a daily team standup to clear blockers and keep people up-to-date. As well as a “Voice of the Customer” meeting with the Success and Product team to troubleshoot the more complex support issues for new and existing clients. In between I’ll be developing implementation guides for new sellers, setting up calls to check in on progress with clients, editing our internal and external documentation, building example checkout implementations and researching third party tools that we might integrate with, such as web analytics and affiliate sales platforms.

Solutions can also help to take the pressure off when a product team is inundated with feature requests and sales aren’t sure what they can offer to sellers. Having team members with a good understanding of customer needs and a deeper knowledge of the tech stack can help to find ways to ensure that essential requirements are met without overloading the product team and manage a customer’s expectations on non-essential features.

About Me

Outside work I keep pretty busy. I’m a trustee of (and sing in) an LGBT+ classical chamber choir - we released our first single for Valentine’s Day. I also ran as a candidate in the recent London local elections. It was my first time running and a great experience, but means I spent a lot of weekends talking to people about recycling and water pressure!

Advice for a Solutions Architect

It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole and throw hours of your time at a tricky problem when a slight rethink might radically simplify it. Going back to customers to revisit the priority and purpose of their requirements often throws up simpler solutions.

It’s also easy to underestimate complexity: make sure you think about how things can go wrong and always run your solution by someone else to bring up edge cases that you hadn’t considered. Don’t over-prescribe: while you have the better knowledge of your product, your customer knows their requirements and ecosystem better so let them lead on their solution design as far as is possible.

Ultimately, it’s a great role for someone wanting to work in tech and develop more tech skills without being a full time engineer (though it could be a path to working in Product or Engineering in future). With Paddle, it’s a new team so there’s lots of opportunity to make a mark and set up procedures to get things done better.