The software architecture of a system represents the design decisions related to overall system structure and behavior. Architecture helps stakeholders understand and analyze how the system will achieve essential qualities such as modifiability, availability, and security.

Software architecture supports analysis of system qualities when teams are making decisions about the system rather than after implementation, integration, or deployment. Whether designing a new system, evolving a successful system, or modernizing a legacy system, this timely analysis enables teams to determine whether the approaches they’ve chosen will yield an acceptable solution. An effective architecture serves as the conceptual glue that holds every phase of the project together for all of its stakeholders, enabling agility, time and cost savings, and early identification of design risks.

Building an effective architecture that enables rapid product delivery for today’s needs while also addressing long-term goals can prove challenging. Failing to identify, prioritize, and manage trade-offs among architecturally significant qualities often leads to project delays, costly rework, or worse.

An effective software architecture supported by agile architecture practices enables effective continuous system evolution. Such practices include documenting the architectural elements and interrelationships intended to achieve key qualities; repeatedly evaluating the architecture for fitness with respect to an organization’s business and mission goals; and analyzing the deployed system for conformance to an architecture. When performed correctly, these practices enable predictable product quality, fewer downstream problems, time and cost savings in integration and test, and cost-effective system evolution.

Advancing the Practice of Software Architecture

For over two decades, the SEI has been and continues to be at the forefront of establishing, maturing, and disseminating proven techniques to help you achieve the benefits that a good architecture can deliver. We have developed a range of proven methods, such as the Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method, that can help organizations at any stage in the software development lifecycle, and regardless of whether they follow an in-house, acquisition-based, Agile, or waterfall model. Whether the context is cloud migration, architecting for AI and ML, modernizing legacy systems, DevSecOps, or continuous evolution, we have honed our expertise by applying our research to real customer projects across many domains.

Our techniques and practices have helped organizations

  • Reduce business and mission risk, such as risks to cost, schedule, time to market, etc.

  • Enable agile, iterative development

  • Reduce development risk

  • Develop quality products and services

  • Modernize legacy systems

  • Assess the architectural origins and consequences of technical debt

  • Analyze alternatives


We use the information we learn in your system. Our work includes Software Architecture in Application and Designing Software Architectures. We also regularly publish our research results alongside case studies of our work with organizations to develop software architecture practices. Our ongoing research focuses on developing automated tools to support time-consuming tasks such as large-scale component refactoring or determining whether applications conform to intended designs.

You can take advantage of our extensive experience to improve your software architecture skills. We can work with you to help you incorporate architecture-centric engineering best practices into your organization.