Design for Testability: A vital aspect of the system Architect role in SAFe

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The system architect role is important to the successful definition, design, delivery, and support of any IT project. A system architect analyses and recommends the correct combination of IT components to achieve a particular business, department, team, or functional goal. They objectively analyze wanted processes and outcomes and advice on the correct combination of IT systems and components to achieve those objectives. A system architecture is firmly aligned with service design.

Various Levels of System Architects  

The system architects work at several different levels in IT, from high-level business system to low-level project consulting.

  • At the highest level, system architects help to define and decide the right IT system and approach that will best help long-term strategies and goals.
  • At the medium level, system architects advise on the best tools, frameworks, hardware, software, and other IT components to accomplish mid-term departmental and functional goals.
  • At the lowest level, system architects consult with and advise project teams on the particular software, equipment, and other elements required delivering defined IT project outcomes.

System architects are business and technology specialists. They look to marketable strategies and goals, break down technical solutions, and make suggestions on the correct combination of IT components to achieve those targets.


Design for Testability (DFT) isn’t a new concept. It has been utilized with electronic hardware design for more than 50 years. The reason is: if you want to have the capacity to test an integrated circuit both during the design stage and later in production, you need to plan it with the goal that it tends to be tried. DFT is a critical non-functional requirement that influences every part of electronic hardware design. The same way, complex agile software frameworks require testing both during design and production, and similar principles are applied. You need to design your software for testability; else you will not be able to test it when it’s done.

The Economic Value of DFT

Agile testing covers the two specific business perspectives: from one perspective, it offers the ability to critique the product, in this way minimizing the effect of imperfections’ being delivered to the user. On the other, it supports iterative development by giving quick feedback within an integration process. None of these factors can come into a play if the framework does not allow simple system/ component/unit-level testing. This implies agile programs, which support testability through each design decision, will enable the enterprise to achieve shorter runway for business and architectural epics.

DFT reduces the effect of large system scope and affords agile teams the advantage of working with something that is more manageable. That is the reason the role of a System Architect is so critical in agile at scale, it additionally reflects different motivation: rather than defining a Big Design Up-front (BDUF), agile designer builds and helps to sustain a viable product development flow by guaranteeing the benefits that are developed are of high quality and needn’t be revisited. This reduces the expense of delay being developed in light of the fact that in a system that is intended for testability, all jobs require less time.

Impact on System Architecture

Experience teaches us that we ultimately achieve a superior design when we design for testability. Indeed, it is regularly the situation that DFT drives a clear separation of concerns, layered architecture or service orientation, high cohesiveness of entities in the code, and so forth. Our tests behave particularly like system “customers” unit tests imitate the conduct of a comparing client-class or classes invoking target class strategies; component tests imitate the conduct of client-components; functional tests imitate the end client—the “customer” for the entire framework. If we design for testability at all these levels, we are additionally providing clear and reasonable interfaces between classes, components, services and, ultimately, the UI and rest of the system.

Cultural Impact

Designing for Testability can’t be considered exclusively the responsibility of the system architect. Every single agile team must do DFT, a continuous journey that supports product development effort between developers, testers and system architects. It makes a culture of shared duty regarding product development flow, where all actively contribute to the framework design and testability.

System Architect Role and DFT

As for designing for testability, the system architect can assume a primary role in DFT:

  • Choice of technologies

Also, fundamental purpose is software libraries, frameworks, repositories, and services should likewise support testability.

  • Implementation Decisions

For instance, having excessive logic at DB side makes testing for all intents and purposes inconceivable. So, does the unreasonable use of asynchronous message queues within the system.

  • Design conventions

Design patterns like façade, gateway, or observer foster testability. But such a common thing like using a web service proxy class may not. A good convention is to use some “abstract” interface, which can communicate with the proxy, allowing the substitution of one with a mock object when necessary.

  • Approach to creating fake objects and mocks

What tools and methodologies should be applied to create stubs, mocks and “spies” in the code, which would support unit-and component testing?

  • Logging and dumps

In large systems, regularly some system level tests fail but all unit tests pass. It might be hard to diagnose the root cause of the issue without a decent logging methodology and the capacity to retrieve thorough memory (or protocol) dumps.

  • Flexible configuration

This allows simple deployment to the test environment and simple linking of test information sources and external mock objects through just updating the configuration files.

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