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Explore Responsive, Collaborative Design Architecture

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Meeting the need for a highly adaptive, digital architecture approach

Transforming into a digital organization involves more than the deployment of new digital systems. It also requires changing the way an organization acquires, delivers and operates its systems.

In the past, all of the processes involved in managing systems operated via top-down, gate-controlled governance. Today, they increasingly rely on collaboration rather than control, and, as a result, have become more responsive to business and technology changes. This fundamental change in systems management is necessary to achieve business agility, and it has had a profound impact on the digital architecture discipline.

RCDA is CGI’s digital architecture approach.  

It aligns closely with this new way of working, transforming the architecture function of organizations worldwide. Learn more

Over the years, CGI’s architects have developed and extensively validated four key principles that make up our RCDA architectural approach and help organizations become effective at agile architecture.

Shorten your architectural feedback loop

The quicker we receive feedback on an architecture, the faster we learn about its effect within a specific solution context.

Architecture is a matter of reducing uncertainty by gathering knowledge and making decisions, and a shorter architecture feedback loop speeds up that uncertainty reduction, leading to better architectures.

On top of this, shorter loops lead to shorter reaction times when things change, which increases business agility.

Focus on business impact

A key benefit of using a short feedback cycle in handling a backlog of architectural concerns is that we can quickly reprioritize the architecture work when circumstances change.

Most of our attention should focus on concerns that have the highest business impact. This impact can consist of enabling new business value and opportunities, but very often it is about risk and cost control. This is why RCDA originally stood for Risk and Cost Driven Architecture.

Achieve "just enough" anticipation

How do we determine the right amount of architecture?

According to the first principle above, architecture is a flow of architectural decisions made as part of a short feedback loop. This flow should be ahead of solution development and delivery with “just enough” anticipation.

The Scaled Agile Framework® uses the metaphor of a runway that is continuously being extended while in operation, so that it is always just long enough to accommodate the new planes that are anticipated (the planes in the metaphor are upcoming solution requirements). The new, bigger planes can land only after the runway’s extension. Dependency analysis determines which runway extensions are required to land which planes. Sometimes you may temporarily extend the runway with an inferior material for the sake of speed.

This represents technical debt that you will need to repay (repave) at some point to prevent accidents. You should base all decisions (when to extend or repave the runway) on sound economic reasoning.

Architect as a team

Depending on their appetite for central coordination (often driven by the complexity of their digital needs), digital leaders may have dedicated architect roles or no architects at all.

Organizations apply RCDA practices by embedding the principles of agile architecture into their ways of working, irrespective of whether they have "architects, “architecture owners” on teams, or "crowdsourced" architectural decisions. A key consideration is that the consequences of architectural decisions affect the delivery (agile or DevOps) teams, not as commands from a higher authority, but as user and enabler stories that extend the architecture runway with “just enough” anticipation.

RCDA is an approach that has helped large organizations across the globe modernize their architectures. Its benefits include:

  • A modern view of architectural design that complements the speed and flexibility of agile development and helps organizations find the balance between long-term predictability and quick business value by enabling “just enough anticipation."
  • Support for teams in gaining control of risks and finding a “sustainable pace” that prevents excessive build-up of technical debt.
  • An environment where architects base design choices on a clear and agreed upon understanding of the business context, using objective and economically oriented trade-offs, rather than hypes or personal preferences.
  • Enhancement of the quality of solutions through practices and guidance for early and effective evaluation of a solution’s quality attributes and other key requirements.
  • Transparency in solution costing structures through traceability from architectural requirements to the costing model.
Peer reviewed publications
Proven practices
Years of knowledge and experience

Every organization is different, and the steps for improving your architecture will be specific to your organizational context, history and goals. Here is a high-level view of what your RCDA journey could look like. 


One of CGI’s experts presents RCDA’s principles and practices to your architecture leadership. We discuss your challenges, whether they lie in the Waterfall Wasteland or closer to the Agile Outback, and start plotting a possible path to more fertile grounds.

CGI expert presents RCDA agile architecture to group in office

We immerse key players in RCDA architectural design and delivery processes  during a three-day interactive practitioner course filled with information, examples and exercises.

Whiteboard agile training exercise

Our experts help your architectural leadership compare your maturity baseline with desired ambitions. Together, we create a backlog of concrete activities to close the gap between reality and ambition, prioritized by business value.

Roadmap exercise on whiteboard in office

Once we help you identify areas for improvement, we use RCDA’s guiding principles and proven practices as guidelines for your growth, providing the coaching and support you need throughout your RCDA journey.

Expert coaches colleagues on agile techniques

Download RCDA brochure

More than 1,500 architects and other stakeholders worldwide have experienced the benefits of RCDA by taking CGI’s RCDA training. This training is available in three programs:

  • RCDA Practitioner: An immersive three-day training course for practicing architects.
  • Agile Architecture Workshop: An RCDA-based, one-day workshop to get organizations started in practicing agile architecture.
  • RCDA Awareness: A two-hour session for managers, product owners, SCRUM masters and other stakeholders working with architects who apply RCDA.

All RCDA teachers are experienced, practicing architects. We provide training remotely or onsite. 

Architects trained


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