Software Architecture Analysis Method (SAAM)

What is the Software Architecture Analysis Method (SAAM)?

The Software Architecture Analysis Method (SAAM) is a structured approach for evaluating software architecture's suitability with respect to specific quality attributes, primarily focusing on modifiability and maintainability. Originally developed in the early 1990s, SAAM was one of the first methods designed to assess the architecture of software systems in terms of non-functional requirements (NFRs) like usability, performance, and scalability, but with a particular emphasis on how easily a system can be changed to meet new requirements.

Key Components of SAAM

  • Scenario-Based Assessment: SAAM utilizes scenarios to evaluate how well a software architecture supports changes and modifications. These scenarios represent possible changes or enhancements that might be required in the future.
  • Architectural Description: A comprehensive description of the software architecture is necessary, detailing components, connectors, and their interactions.
  • Scenario Evaluation: Each scenario is evaluated against the architectural description to determine how the architecture would handle the change. This evaluation considers the impact on the system, the effort required to implement the change, and the potential for introducing errors.

Process of SAAM

SAAM involves several steps:

  • Develop a Scenarios List: Gather scenarios through workshops and discussions with stakeholders, including developers, end-users, and business owners. Scenarios are typically categorized into direct scenarios (changes anticipated during design) and indirect scenarios (unanticipated changes).
  • Describe the Architecture: Document the current software architecture, focusing on elements that are critical for the scenarios being considered.
  • Classify and Prioritize Scenarios: Scenarios are prioritized based on their likelihood and criticality. This helps focus the analysis on the most significant scenarios.
  • Evaluate Scenarios Against the Architecture: For each scenario, assess the architecture’s ability to accommodate the change. This includes evaluating the effort required, the scope of the impact, and potential side effects.
  • Scenario Interaction Analysis: Analyze interactions among scenarios to identify conflicts or synergies where one scenario might impact the implementation of another.
  • Generate Results and Report: The results of the scenario evaluations are compiled into a report that includes recommendations for improving the architecture, addressing gaps, and enhancing future flexibility.

Importance of SAAM

  • Focus on Modifiability: SAAM helps ensure that software systems are designed with change and evolution in mind, which is crucial for long-term sustainability and adaptability.
  • Stakeholder Communication: By involving various stakeholders in the scenario creation and evaluation process, SAAM fosters better understanding and communication about the architecture’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Cost-effective Maintenance: Early identification of potential issues in accommodating changes can lead to more cost-effective maintenance and fewer disruptions in the future.

Benefits of SAAM

  • Improved Design Decisions: Provides architects and designers with insights into how architectural choices impact the system’s ability to change.
  • Enhanced System Quality: Helps in achieving higher system quality by focusing on modifiability, which can reduce the time and cost of future system modifications.
  • Risk Management: Identifies risks related to future changes, allowing organizations to manage or mitigate these risks proactively.

Challenges in Implementing SAAM

  • Subjectivity in Scenario Evaluation: The assessment can be subjective, depending on the experience and bias of the evaluators.
  • Time-Consuming Process: Developing a comprehensive set of scenarios and evaluating them can be time-consuming and resource-intensive.
  • Dynamic Requirements: As software requirements evolve, the initial set of scenarios may become less relevant, requiring ongoing updates to the scenario list.


The Software Architecture Analysis Method (SAAM) is a valuable tool for assessing the modifiability of software architecture. By using a structured, scenario-based approach, SAAM helps organizations understand potential challenges in adapting their software systems to future needs and provides a framework for making informed decisions about architectural modifications and improvements.

See Also

  • Software Architecture: Discussing the fundamental organization of a system embodied in its components, their relationships to each other, and to the environment, and the principles guiding its design and evolution.
  • Architectural Patterns: Covering common solutions for software architecture like MVC (Model-View-Controller) and microservices, which can be analyzed using SAAM.
  • Requirements Engineering: Exploring the process of defining, documenting, and maintaining requirements, which is crucial in the context of SAAM for determining architectural fitness.
  • Design Patterns: Discussing reusable solutions to common problems in software design that may be reviewed under SAAM evaluations.
  • Software Quality Attributes: Covering aspects like scalability, reliability, and maintainability that are typically assessed using SAAM to ensure the architecture supports these attributes.
  • Scenario-Based Evaluation: Exploring how scenarios are used in SAAM to analyze how well a software architecture satisfies particular use cases.
  • Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC): Discussing various phases of software development, during which SAAM can be applied to assess architectural decisions.
  • Risk Management in Software Projects: Covering the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks in software projects, with SAAM being a tool to mitigate risks associated with architectural decisions.
  • Change Management: Exploring how SAAM can help in managing changes in software architecture by predicting the impact of changes on system attributes.
  • Software Metrics: Discussing how different metrics can be used to quantify software characteristics, which is crucial for analyzing architectural decisions in SAAM.

Understanding these topics will help with a deeper understanding of the strategic role of SAAM in software architecture evaluation and its integration with overall software development and management practices.