Empirical insights into the evolving role of architects in decision-making in an agile context

Femke Heijenk, Martin van den Berg*, Henrik Leopold, Hans van Vliet, Raymond Slot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

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The transition to agile software development changes the decision-making power in organizations. This study aims to provide researchers and practitioners with empirical insights into how the participation in decision-making by enterprise, solution and system architects evolves due to this transition. For this purpose, a case study was conducted to examine the participation of and challenges for architects in decision-making in agile projects. A mixed-method research approach was used comprising observations, conversations, interviews, literature study and a survey. We found that 101 decision types are used prior to and in agile iterations, in which architects and stakeholders collaborate to make these decisions. The projection of these types of decisions over 25 different actors in the case study organization demonstrates that decision-making is a group effort in which solution and system architects are highly involved. Architecture and agility can indeed co-exist. Another finding of this case study is that stakeholders in agile teams perceive less architecture involvement in decision-making and expect less design decisions up front. Architects are challenged to become team players, to make design decisions only when they are necessary, and finally, to document, communicate, and share design decisions more effectively.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSoftware Architecture
Subtitle of host publication12th European Conference on Software Architecture, ECSA 2018, Madrid, Spain, September 24–28, 2018, Proceedings
EditorsJennifer Pérez, Carlos E. Cuesta, David Garlan
PublisherSpringer - Verlag
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic) 9783030007614
ISBN (Print)9783030007607
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event12th European Conference on Software Architecture, ECSA 2018 - Madrid, Spain
Duration: 24 Sept 201828 Sept 2018

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume11048 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference12th European Conference on Software Architecture, ECSA 2018


  • Agile decision-making
  • Agile software development
  • Agile teams
  • Enterprise architecture
  • Solution architecture
  • System architecture


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