My company (KPI) has received several inquiries lately about architecting a new SOA project on a "2-3 month" contract. These inquiries are from respectable companies. It was hard for me to believe the naivity, so I took a couple of the initial calls -- and, in fact, they really think a new SOA system can be properly architected in 2 months. I do not like artificial timeframes. On these big systems, one has to understand the existing system and the requirements of the new system before beginning any architecture work. Architecture isn't the waterfall model -- every system will evolve as requirements change (and sometimes, that involves re-architecting portions of the system). The architect needs a presence during the entire lifecycle to ensure the development meets the architecture. As David Linthicum (and others) point out, having a good SOA architect is one of the keys to a successful project. Companies that try to be cheap and rent one for 2-3 months have a project that is doomed to fail.