Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University
Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University

Architecture Improvement Workshop

The Architecture Improvement Workshop (AIW) is a method for evaluating and improving software architectures relative to quality attribute goals. The SEI can evaluate your architecture using the SEI Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method (ATAM) to expose architectural risks that potentially inhibit the achievement of an organization's business goals. Then the SEI will work with the architects and managers to determine which business goals to focus on and to propose alternatives to improve and evolve the architecture, ranking these alternatives based on their expected costs, benefits, and uncertainty.


  • How do you improve and evolve the architecture of a system so that it best meets stakeholder needs?
  • How do you know if the software architecture for a system is deficient with respect to these needs?
  • What architectural strategies are appropriate to improve the architecture?
  • How do you go about taking economic considerations—cost, benefit, and uncertainty—into account when improving the architecture?


The AIW consists of the following phases:

  1. Perform an ATAM.
  2. Determine the focus for analysis based on the business goals, scenarios, and risk themes identified in the ATAM.
  3. Use quality attribute models related to the risk themes to understand the architecture.
  4. Use insights gained from model-based analysis and design principles to propose alternatives.
  5. Rank the alternatives based on costs, benefits, and uncertainty.
  6. Make design decisions.

The output of the AIW consists of documented analyses addressing the most important risk themes and enumerating architectural alternatives for each, along with their costs, benefits, and uncertainty. At the end of the AIW, the architecture team has enough documented technical and economic information to make informed business and implementation decisions. These architectural alternatives represent a suitable set of architectural investments based upon considerations of benefit, cost, and schedule, within the constraints of the elicited uncertainty of these judgments and the willingness of the stakeholders to withstand the risk implied by uncertainty.


The most important results are improved architectures and a rational, documented decision-making process. The AIW enables users to mitigate risks early in the life cycle and make informed decisions based on an analysis of the economic and architectural implications of those decisions.

Who Would Benefit

Software product or project managers, software product line managers, business analysts, software architects/senior designers.


SEI staff is currently looking for organizations that would like to use the AIW as one of their routine software development practices. SEI staff is available to conduct an AIW at your organization.

For additional details or to arrange an AIW at your organization, contact us using the link in the For more information box at the bottom of this page.

Software Architecture Training and Publications

Software Architecture Training at the SEI

Software Architecture Publications