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

Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method Leader

How do you know whether your system will achieve qualities that are important to your organization, such as performance, reliability, security, and maintainability? The quality of a system emanates in large part from its software architecture. Software architecture provides the most fundamental basis for communicating design decisions and reasoning about key system quality attributes.

The SEI Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method (ATAM) is a proven method for evaluating software architectures. Government and industry organizations such as Aetna, BAE Systems, Boeing, Cisco, KPMG, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Nationwide, Raytheon, Robert Bosch GmbH, Siemens, U.S. Army and Unisys have used the ATAM for more than 10 years to expose architectural risks that threaten their ability to achieve their business goals.

As Rolf Siegers of Raytheon said in his keynote address at the SEI Software Architecture Technology User Network (SATURN) Conference, “The SEI in the software architecture arena is a pioneer and has been for more than a decade.”

SEI-Certified ATAM Leaders conduct SEI-authorized ATAM evaluations on behalf of SEI Partner organizations. An SEI-authorized ATAM evaluation is led by an SEI-Certified ATAM Leader whose team is made up of individuals who have received the SEI ATAM Evaluator certificate. SEI-Certified ATAM Leaders are experts in software architecture evaluation using the ATAM, which requires technical expertise in software architecture and quality attributes, a working knowledge of the ATAM, and strong facilitation skills. The five-course sequence and observation exercise that make up the ATAM Leader certification provide a qualified software professional with the technical depth and social techniques needed to lead an SEI-authorized ATAM.

Steps for Earning Your ATAM Leader Certification

1. Meet qualification criteria


  • at least five years of experience working in a software engineering environment, including two years of experience in the construction of software-intensive systems as a designer, architect, or in a related senior technical role
  • at least two years of experience developing software
  • BS degree in computer science or related academic discipline

Additional recommended knowledge and skills:

  • superior oral and written communications skills
  • ability to interact with domain and technical experts
  • demonstrated knowledge and experience in software architecture
  • facilitation skills and experience

2. Complete training courses

Before applying to become an SEI-Certified ATAM Leader, you must successfully complete the following from the SEI or an SEI-authorized provider:

3. Participate as an ATAM evaluator

Participate as an ATAM evaluator on at least one ATAM evaluation team and receive a positive recommendation from the ATAM Leader.

4. Apply

After you apply to become an SEI-Certified ATAM Leader, an ATAM Leader Review Board will review your application. Your application package must include the following:

5. Lead an ATAM evaluation

Within 18 months of successfully completing ATAM Leader training, you must demonstrate the ability to successfully lead an SEI-authorized ATAM evaluation:

  • The candidate’s organizational sponsor requests an observation for its SEI-Certified ATAM Leader candidate.
  • Only one candidate SEI-Certified ATAM Leader can be  observed per evaluation.
  • If an interpreter or translator is required, the SEI Partner is responsible for obtaining and paying an SEI-approved interpreter or translator.

The ATAM observation enables an experienced ATAM Leader to observe and evaluate the candidate as he or she conducts a software architecture evaluation using the ATAM. This exercise can be completed either through a field observation or a simulation observation. The observer will provide you with feedback at the conclusion of the observation and will submit an observation report to the SEI for your candidate observation package.

6. Receive your certification

The SEI ATAM Leader Review Board will review your performance during training and the observation exercise. Successful candidates will receive a certification diploma. If at any time your performance during qualification is unsatisfactory, the SEI will provide you with feedback and, if necessary, steps for remediation. Any additional SEI support for remedial work will be billed in accordance with your sponsoring SEI Partner’s license agreement.

7. Keep your certification up to date

Your ATAM Leader certification is valid for a period of three years from the award date. Learn how to renew your ATAM Leader certification.