The Solution Architect (SA) is a key member of the Client Solutions team, the team within SweetRush tasked with designing brilliant solutions for our client’s challenges and converting client inquiries to closed business. SAs partner with the client and internal stakeholders to co-create a learning solution, budget, and project plan that addresses the client’s goals, challenges, and constraints. This individual embodies the SweetRush culture and serves as a key partner to SweetRush clients throughout their experience.
This is the ultimate position for someone who is a consummate Instructional Designer and Project Manager, as it embraces all Instructional Design and Project Management skills. This individual must love to craft solutions and to strategize and ‘win’ in competitive bidding situations. This individual is also great at building individual and organizational trust quickly by providing client-centered consultation that includes facilitating connections between the client and various SweetRush team members. This individual is also a great presenter who, by their voice, presence and intelligence, immediately engenders trust with clients on the phone or in-person. This individual must enjoy this work and bring a sense of humor and a calm demeanor in the face of timeline-driven challenges.
The SA is involved in the beginning, crafting solutions, and in this capacity will affect a significant number of projects. However, at some point, you will hand off the project to the project team, so you will not be hands-on in further development. Being consultative and impacting a lot of projects, but not doing the actual development must be appealing to you.
Responding to RFPs (Requests for Proposals) and crafting client solutions can be a demanding job that often is timeline-driven and exists within the context of ‘competition.’ Does this energize you or stress you out? If it energizes, read on!
The Solution Architect’s responsibilities and activities include:
Consulting and Solution Design
- Applying understanding of instructional design approaches combined with SweetRush’s capabilities and expertise to create and define solutions to clients’ training challenges and needs
- Leading scoping meetings with clients to ascertain their needs; asking appropriate questions in order to gather information to propose a solution and documenting responses
- Providing real-time recommendations and consulting to clients to engage them, fuel discussions and build trust and rapport
- Leading internal discussions regarding new projects and defining the solution with assistance from internal team members
- Embodying and representing SweetRush’s values of partnership, fairness, creativity and customer service
- Participating in scope, price and timeline negotiations by revisiting any of these areas at the client’s request and providing consultation on what might be altered within the solution while still keeping it feasible and effective; consulting with other team members on various aspects of the solution if needed to make these judgments
Work Effort / Timeline Estimation / Planning, Presentations and Documents
- Estimating work effort for the solution using sophisticated SweetRush developed calculator tools combined with input from team members
- Co-designing solutions with SweetRush functional experts in instructional design, creative design, and engineering. This involves synchronous collaboration and comfort with group co-creation and brainstorming as opposed to a more individually-centered creative process.
- Writing comprehensive proposals outlining proposed solutions and tying back to SweetRush’s unique value proposition
- Leading the development of and participating in capabilities presentations, which are customized to accompany proposals or to move client conversations forward; identifying the most relevant portfolio pieces to share with clients while keeping privacy needs in mind
- Leading RFP response efforts which typically embrace all of the above activities on a larger scale and often with shorter timelines
- Consulting on appropriate resource assignments based on project and client needs
Transition and On-boarding
- On-boarding (or handing off to) project managers, instructional designers, creative directors and technical leads assigned to projects on the project details, including any observations to date on key client players
- Attending initial meetings with clients as appropriate to provide continuity in the transition from scoping phase to project kick-off
- Ensuring that the appropriate SweetRush team leader is engaged and informed at all stages as appropriate and that they have the high-level solution information packaged in a way that he/she can easily make decisions about pricing and price negotiations
Project Management for Business Development
- Participating in weekly internal business development meeting and ensuring the CRM is up to date
- Delegating work to the solutions enablement team (a subset of the Client Solutions team), such as the creation of detailed project schedules, demo decks, proposals, or statements of work
- Determining next steps and deadlines at every stage and ensuring both you and other team members meet those requirements
Account Management for Business Development
- Work closely with other business development professionals and project managers to develop and manage accounts, including implementing client pursuit and re-engagement strategies
- Proactively (time permitting!) identify and qualify sales opportunities with existing clients
- Develop and maintain strong relationships with clients
- Develop strategies that support existing clients and that identify, educate, and capture new points of contact within existing clients
- Meet with key decision-makers and develop networks at all levels within existing clients
- Understanding of instructional design approaches and innovative ways to translate a client’s business needs to a tangible and effective learning solution
- Project management expertise, particularly the ability to engage team members and keep them on task in their contributions to deliverables and the ability to follow a standard process and make modifications as needed to achieve the best results
- Thrive in ambiguity and the “gray” - often this work is not black/white and our culture is to be agile and flexible to the client’s unique needs and constraints
- Ability to create a solid proposed solution from which a contract can be created, without needing to do a comprehensive content analysis, for which there is often not enough time or information
- Comfortable recommending solutions to clients when there are often still many unknowns
- Affection for the creative process
- Ability to present capabilities demonstrations and training solutions using appropriate technology in group and virtual settings
- Highly professional demeanor in all communications; ability to speak in a clear, concise manner on client calls and in presentations
- A sense of humor and a calm demeanor in the face of challenges others might find stressful
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Excellent time management skills; ability to juggle multiple projects and prioritize effectively
- Resourcefulness in times of resource limitations and ability to wear multiple hats
- Joy in developing long term relationships with team and clients.
- Bachelor’s Degree in Instructional Design or related field
- 7+ years experience in training/learning field – with a strong understanding of all aspects of blended learning solutions, and intimate understanding of eLearning
- 5+ years experience working in a consulting environment
- 5+ years experience working in a client-facing capacity.
- Experience in or orientation towards business development
- Ability to travel between 10-25% with international travel a definite possibility
PS: A bit about SweetRush—This year we will celebrate our 19th anniversary developing performance improvement/training solutions. We have a significant list of high-profile clients such as Google, CVS, Hilton, Bridgestone, Mondelez, Cisco,—and we are very good at keeping our clients happy and working with us year after year. We are a powerhouse of blended learning solutions and extremely adept at crafting highly engaging, graphically rich, blended learning experiences, including gamification and mobile learning. We’ve developed a powerful authoring system that allows us to go well beyond what most vendors or off the shelf tools can offer and deliver, but we are also masters of the industry standard tools and utilize them regularly. We are very focused on project management and keeping large and complex projects moving smoothly. We have a fantastic team and culture and a ‘near-zero’ turnover. We are that unique kind of company where everyone feels respected, acknowledged and treated fairly. In 2009, we went virtual and our team is geographically distributed, but very tightly connected.
We have managed, largely via referrals and marketing, (we do not have salespeople!) to attract a great group of clients, and we anticipate quite a bit of continued growth into 2020.