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iSAQB Blog Foundation Level interview with curator Gernot Starke

Why Should I attend the CPSA® Foundation Level Training Course?

An Interview With Curator Gernot Starke

The iSAQB’s Certified Profes­sional for Software Architecture program (CPSA) is a program of further education. It is aimed at anyone who works on solution struc­tures in IT projects.

Within the multi-level CPSA program, the Foundation Level is the first step. It provides a solid and pragmatic intro­duction to software architecture.

But why exactly should you, an experi­enced IT expert, partic­ipate in such a training? And is it also suitable for other roles?

In the following interview, Foundation Level curator Gernot Starke will shed some light upon your most relevant questions as a potential participant.


Am I the right partic­ipant? Which audience does the Foundation Level address?

The Foundation Level estab­lishes a solid under­standing of architecture funda­mentals – which can be useful for anyone working in software development.

However, the Foundation Level is primarily aimed at people who actively develop or design software.

Often­times, product owners, requirements engineers, or testers partic­ipate, as those roles also need to know what “software architecture” is all about.


How is the Foundation Level training course relevant for my profes­sional practice as a software architect?

The name of the course says it all: It is about funda­mentals, both in terms of content and terminology.

The Foundation Level teaches the common language of our disci­pline, so that partic­i­pants get a precise under­standing of it, for example of the role and tasks of archi­tects. This allows for a much better commu­ni­cation in teams and much less “talking at cross-purposes”.

In addition, the Foundation Level imparts a number of methodical basics of architecture work, which are specified in the training courses by means of case studies and examples.

Partic­i­pants gain an under­standing of how to achieve essential quality requirements, how to system­at­i­cally structure systems, and how to take architecture and technology decisions.


Which skills do I acquire at Foundation Level, what exactly do I learn in this training?

At Foundation Level, we emphasize the ability to commu­nicate technical or struc­tural relation­ships, both orally and in writing. That is why we ask partic­i­pants of our courses to explain their solution approaches to sample tasks to the entire group.

Furthermore, we explain and practice the ability to work out decisions in different dimen­sions or views, for example on modules and compo­nents, on external inter­faces, on cross-cutting concepts, or on infrastructure and distribution.

At Foundation Level, we substan­tiate all of this with a multitude of funda­mental design principles and patterns in order to best prepare partic­i­pants for everyday architecture and devel­opment work.


Does the Foundation Level also help me if I usually work on smaller or medium-sized systems?

Yes, definitely: The size of a system has an influence on the architecture, but even in smaller systems, critical quality requirements, like maintain­ability, time-to-market, robustness, or under­stand­ability really make the difference.

Teams (and/or archi­tects) should be able to system­at­i­cally work out such qualities, regardless of size, scope, or technology. Here, the Foundation Level provides a set of methodical tools.

Furthermore, the Foundation Level creates a solid conceptual basis in order to commu­nicate effec­tively with other stake­holders from within devel­opment projects – with requirements, test, or management, for example.


Do I need to be good at programming to benefit from the Foundation Level?

Yes and no: Devel­opment or programming experience is helpful, but the methodical compe­tence from the Foundation Level can also be under­stood by partic­i­pants without extensive programming experience. After all, we are talking about technology and vendor-neutral methodology.

However, if someone wants to take their own design and architecture decisions, programming experience is almost essential – which is why it is explicitly required in the prereq­ui­sites for Foundation Level training.

As mentioned above in relation to the target group – product owners, employees from management or other roles often take part in the training courses, and the Foundation Level allows them to improve their commu­ni­cation with devel­opment teams.


You would like to learn more about the CPSA Foundation Level? Please visit the Foundation Level web page. 

You would rather find and book a suitable Foundation Level training course right away? Then check out our training calendar.

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About the Author

Dr. Gernot Starke
Gernot Starke, INNOQ Fellow, is a computer scientist through and through. He finds programming cool and loves the challenges of modern software systems. Gernot is a co-founder of iSAQB and has headed the “Foundation Level” working group for almost 10 years. He is also the co-founder of the two open-source architecture methodology projects arc42 and aim42. In his everyday working life, Gernot advises companies from various sectors on systematic software architecture. He regularly holds training courses on architecture and related topics. The first edition of his book, “Effektive Softwarearchitekturen,” was published in 2001 and has since been continually updated – the latest (9th) edition was published in 2020. Together with Alexander Lorz, he created the (English) “Software Architecture Foundation - CPSA-F Exam Study Guide,” published by VanHaaren International – the only book that explains all 40 CPSA-F learning goals individually.

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