Resource Index > Technical Work > Project Architecture

Project Architecture

Product architecture is the set of design themes that allow you to leverage solutions for product design, manufacturing, marketing, and service. A core set of design decisions are made one time and are then used throughout the product or even across multiple products. These are not detailed requirements documents that can be used to actually build the product. Product architecture focuses more on describing the product and how it should work -- think form and function, not blueprints and design specifications. The resources collected here will help you develop solid product architectures that lead to stronger products.

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Examples of Product Architecture Documents
The following resources provide real world examples of the documents used to describe a proposed product, its functionality, and the market need it will fill.

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  • IT Project Request for Proposal
    A detailed, boilerplate template for an IT Request for Proposal (RFP) submitted by an Australian IT project manager. Color-coding separates pre-approved legalese from project-specific clauses, and File Properties are used as text fields to automatically include some high level project information and contacts.
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  • Interface Protocol Document
    A document like this may be used as a product or system's architecture is being defined, to specify how the different "building blocks" of the system will interface with other, ensuring that the technical team has thoroughly investigated and identified what interface hardware and/or software each subsystem must implement, and how the components of the system will work together during various functions.
  • Business Data Dictionary Template
    A business data dictionary organizes and defines all the data elements relevant to a particular software system, and includes additional information that helps establish a common understanding of the nature of the data element.
  • Marketing Requirements Document
    Document created by Marketing or Business group or other representatives of "customers" and "users" to express the perceived customer wants and needs for product, system, or service.
Step-by-step Guidelines for Developing Product Architectures
To develop a useful product architecture, you need to first place the product in the context of user needs and market opportunities, whether those users and markets are internal or external. With that information, you can begin to define how different product components (subsystems, data models, software routines, hardware components) might work together to satisfy customer needs.

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  • Information Architecture As the Key To Effective Data Management
    Just like we have application architectures and network architectures, an information architecture is essential to effectively managing data. And, just like with application and network architectures, we need to plan for and thoughtfully define our information architectures.
  • Software for All that Ails
    While properly designed software can create much value, designing a system where there is no prototype or existing, defined process in place is highly risky. For brand new systems and/or first generation automation of a system or procedure, follow these principles.
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  • Technique Brief - Context Diagrams
    Context Diagrams provides a time-tested method for using simple symbols to illustrate a system's boundaries, benefits, interactions, and data flows. Simple sketches can aid discussions of project features and scope, and detailed graphical interface specifications can improve communication and understanding with non-technical stakeholders.
  • Use Case Specification
    This document outline illustrates how to write a complete use case specification in order to capture the specific details of a use case (beyond just the models and diagrams you may have drafted), in order to capture the functional requirements of a system. Comprehensive use case specifications can help drive decisions about system architecture, user interface, manuals and tests, and more.
  • Business Process Modeling Technique Brief
    Business process models can help companies with process improvement, capturing requirements, automation, compliance, training, and more. This technique brief provides basic guidance on how to conduct a modeling effort, commonly used approaches, and how to avoid typical problems.
  • Business Rules Management Guideline
    This guideline is designed to help you develop your own approach to writing, managing, and maintaining business rules, by providing some basic guidance and tips for organization, management, and change control.
  • Requirements Interview Checklist
    This checklist is organized into sets of questions you should consider for each interview; important preparation that will increase your credibility and help you make the most of your time with these key resources.
Other Options
Typical Architecture Issues and Answers to Common Questions

For Guests
These resources are available to everyone, no login required.
  • GoldPlater
    Sure, technology can do things quickly, but if it's based on a bad process or flawed business logic, technology just produces bad results faster. Sometimes, the most elegant solutions are the simplest ones. It's easy to blame the Business Owner or the sinister conspiracy, but sometimes we're our own worst enemy.
  • Barely Sufficient Documentation
    How much documentation is too much? Anything more than "just enough."
For Subscribers
These resources are for Premium subscribers. Subscribe to get access, or find out more about our free trial for new subscribers.
Other Options
  • See our list of books on product architecture, for both general product management and also software design management.
  • Business-Driven Project Focus: 10 Tools of High-Value, High-Return Project Managers
    A webinar recorded by Cinda Voegtli - $39.95, 1.5 PDUs
    In this session, ProjectConnections founder Cinda Voegtli's rich, fast-paced, practical presentation illustrates how truly business-driven PMs and teams think, behave, and operate, and how those techniques lead to compelling project returns.

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