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Lesson 6Architects Service Standards Responsibility
Objective Explain how service standards are part of an architect's responsibility.

Architects Service Standards Responsibility

Service standards are part of an architect's responsibility.
In a previous lesson, we talked about the different perspectives of the stakeholders and general issues and concerns regarding the e-business solution. In this lesson, we will discuss how service standards are defined, and how cost-benefit analysis can be a valuable tool in weighing the outcomes of different e-business solutions against one another.

Measures of service and quality

What do we mean by service standards? Service standards are measures of service and quality.
The architect needs to assist the stakeholders of the business in defining the service standards; the service standards will establish the requirements, and enable the design and build of the service.
Ultimately, these standards will be used to measure the actual performance of the e-business solution against the requirements.

Examples of service standards include:
  1. Number of concurrent users (internal and external)
  2. Expected transaction throughput is the number of transactions than can take place in a period of time.
  3. Response times

Balancing competing service standards

A common conflict is between the competing needs of different groups and their different perceptions of quality.
Balancing these issuesis part of the architect's responsibility.
For example, the B2C customer, often on a slower connection, typically judges online service on how fast or slow Web pages download. To achieve fast downloads, file sizes for the pages must not be too large, and system capacity must be sufficient to transmit pages at an acceptable rate at peak traffic times.

Direct conflict with the quality standards identified by different areas of the business


Reconciling different perceptions of quality

As described in the table below, the questions the architect raises on behalf of the stakeholders are often in conflict with customer expectations.
Different areas of the business implement different service standards; these service standards are often at the expense of the customer.
Department Strategy Service standard Perceptions of quality
Marketing Use high quality, glossy graphics A good site image for brand building Such images tend to demand large file sizes
Finance Use inexpensive graphic design Low cost Favor smaller file sizes
Operations Use simple, low spend graphics to keep system scale low High transaction throughput Favor smaller file sizes
Customer Fast download of Web pages
Requires smaller file sizes

Reconciling different perceptions of quality

Balancing these issues is part of the architect's responsibility. In the example above, how that balance is achieved will affect how the customer, the marketing department, the finance department, and the operations perceive the quality of the solution.

Integrating the customer experience

Achieving a true balance will inevitably involve compromise by all parties. More importantly, because the customers generally cannot represent themselves in these discussions, the architect must keep internal focus on the kind of customer experience the balanced solution will deliver.
In managing the different perceptions of the various groups involved, how does the architect keep a focus on customer experience? One effective way of doing this is to produce a demonstration or simulation of download times for the customer at peak load.

Revisiting a cost benefit analysis

As is described in the image below, for an e-business solution, like any other business solution, there will be many competing demands from different dimensions.

The services that are pulling on the cost versus benefit.

You should consider each of the dimensions listed below as measures of service and quality, and factor these dimensions into a final cost-versus-benefit analysis and decision.
Question: What are three examples of service standards?
Answer:
  1. Number of concurrent users (internal and external)
  2. Expected transaction throughput
  3. Response times

In the next lesson, we will define the roles of architects, engineers, and developers.