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Business Architecture:

 

What It Is and Developing Your Business Case

 

It has proven itself to be invaluable to business over the past few years. Business Architecture (BA) has gained prominence as a game-changing discipline offering organizations the opportunity to address major challenges in new and unique ways.

 

First Things First – Business Architecture vs Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise Architecture and Business Architecture are complementary terms and sometimes were even used interchangeably. However, Business Architecture is a key (possibly the key) domain within Enterprise Architecture. Business Architecture provides the foundation or anchor point from which the remaining domains are linked and aligned.

Business Architecture provides an overall blueprint of the organization’s business, covering both the strategic and operational perspectives. Whereas Enterprise Architecture provides the overarching view of the of all the domains, including how the other domains align to the Business Architecture.

Let’s look at the definitions currently in widespread use. Recently, a number of related professional associations and industry standards organizations ratified new definitions for Enterprise Architecture, Business Architecture and related architecture disciplines. This collaboration agreed the following definitions:

Enterprise architecture represents the holistic planning, analysis, design, and implementation for the development and execution of strategy by applying principles and practices to guide organizations through the integration and interoperation of all other architecture domains.

Business architecture represents holistic, multidimensional business views of capabilities, end-to-end value delivery, information, and organizational structure; and the relationships among these business views and strategies, products, policies, initiatives, and stakeholders.

Components of Business Architecture

Business Architecture consists of components, which document:

  • Business Motivation (defined by Vision, Goals, Objectives, Mission, Strategies and Plans)
  • Business Products and Services
  • Business Organization Structure, Roles and Locations
  • Business Stakeholders (e.g. Partners, Suppliers, Regulators and Customers)
  • Business Capabilities and Processes
  • Business Information Objects (high level objects: i.e. customer information, product information, customer sales)

These components help define the Business Architecture domain, which in-turn, help to deliver business aligned technology governance to the other domains within Enterprise Architecture.

Overview of Business Architecture

 

Simply put, we look at Business Architecture overall as the definitive blueprint of how an enterprise operates. This blueprint provides stakeholders with a common understanding within the organization of how departmental goals, objectives, strategies and tactics support and contribute to the overall organizational, objectives, strategies and plans. The blueprint also addresses the enterprise’s business processes, governance structure and business information. As a result, Business Architecture’s primary focus is on operational, motivational and analysis framework where all will be linked together via the enterprise.

In short, a Business Architecture will save resources and time. Let’s look at a few real-world scenarios: A government agency uses BA looking toward introducing a customer self-service vision that would be established as a new initiative. Eyeing a potential takeover, a pharmaceutical company will use BA to expedite the large-scale merger. Seeing this, an international airline follows the same process. A global finance company will introduce BA to align its enterprise operations to the organizations new business model. A large financial institution, facing an extremely complex post-merger portfolio uses BA to effectively streamline the merger process and identify areas of overlap.

The realization that Business Architecture is required

Somewhere between strategic imperatives and tactical demands, the framework of business architecture will surface. Whatever the strategic imperatives are or what the tactical demands require, it is important right from the start to frame them within the organizational context to understand how execution will play out. Let’s look at a few drivers of Business Architecture that may come to light:

  • There is a noticeable lack of a holistic and unified understanding of the complexities and nuances of the initiative.
  • There is an obvious gap or delta between the strategic objective and the execution of the initiative.
  • The inability to shift quickly because of changing market dynamics and demands of the business.
  • Obvious inefficiencies identified in operational processes.
  • A noticeable cost curve spiraling out of control.
  • A growing gap between IT and business teams.
  • There is a misalignment within the budget between what the organizations strategic priorities demand and what the IT budgets can provide.

Depending on your organization, if you look close enough, you may find more drivers indicating a need for Business Architecture.

Value Proposition of a Business Architecture

You should now be familiar with some of the strategic imperatives and key drivers that support the need to adopt Business Architecture. It is at this stage that the need to establish a value proposition for why there is a requirement for Business Architecture that will be presented to major stakeholders. A compelling value proposition will be critical in securing the buy-in from senior leadership.

Let us examine a few tips to get the wheels in motion:

 

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Linking execution with Strategy

  • Define which strategy pillars will be supported by which capabilities.
  • Identify and assign key performance indicators. These will need to be measured and monitored.
  • Ensure alignment of funding to all core capabilities.
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Simplify to a 360-degree view of the business enterprise

  • Define a comprehensive and coherent view of business capabilities, data, processes, resources, and motivation.
  • Ensure all can understand the connectiveness (and interconnectedness) to include any overlaps and synergies.
 
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Developing a Common Language

  • Ensure a common language is used for both actionable frameworks in business and IT.
  • Communicate this across the organization, especially to areas where business and technical speak is lacking.
 
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Ensures the breakdown of Business and IT silo’s

  • The vary nature of conceptualizing, building and managing capabilities over the long-term will pull the focus away from siloed developments looking for sideline budgets.
  • Overtime, strategic imperatives will work hand in hand with operational (including IT) tactics.

Making the Business Case to present Business Architecture to Senior Leadership

Knowing that you see value in the proposition is one thing. Delivering the value proposition both quantitatively and qualitatively is another that will require time to prepare. Working with your list of strategic imperatives and business/IT drivers related to Business Architecture is a great starting point. This is where you can begin to build your list of potential outcomes when using Business Architecture and how they will provide benefit to the enterprise over the short, medium, and long-term. These must be reflected both quantitatively and qualitatively.

It would be fair to say that selling this to senior leadership is in itself both an art and a science. Its not just about how long the list is or how relevant the issues and considerations are, more importantly, it is also in how you will tell the story of why and how in vivid and if needed, stark terms. Without going overboard with doom and gloom, the focus should remain substantive enough on the positives to frame the picture in a better light.

Frameworks in Business Architecture Does Matter

Discussing and deciding frameworks can get a bit contentious between those who remain purists and those who will use the best of a few to build out their Business Architecture. The best suggestion we could offer is to discuss with our professionals exactly which framework or best-of-breed solutions would work for your proposal. MODAF, Zachman, PEAF, TOGAF, DODAF are some frameworks in enterprise architecture that could be considered. True to the fact that we are a bit biased, we do have software capable of managing your Business Architecture using our Enterprise Process Center (EPC) platform.

Business Architecture Components

So far so good. You’ve made significant impact to date. You have made your business case, secured funding, and now must create your Business Architecture. At this point, take a minute out to identify what components you will want included in your Business Architecture. The range of elements, entities and components are significantly varied depending who you ask. What is critical right now is to identify the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or Minimum Viable Project and move forward incrementally here on. For instance, at Interfacing, the below are just a few examples of Business Architecture components used: (more info here)

  • Strategy Clarification – understanding the “why”
  • Business Capability Modeling – capturing in a hierarchy of processes, what a company’s core business blocks are
  • Structure – understanding an organizations basic structure focusing on roles, location mapping, identifying channels and other information needed to address the downstream architecture.
  • Data – capturing the business data assets, flow and functionality of all data used.

Defining a Business Capability – Model or Cap

A business capability is simply the “what” a business does at its basic functional level. When we take a group of capabilities and organize them accordingly, we have just created a capability map, which is a holistic view constituting what an enterprise does. Keep in mind this is not a process or value stream map. While both of those are critical to the process of the business, they are not business capabilities or a business capability model. However, they will need to be aligned and linked to the business capabilities

It is not a small task to build a business capability model but be sure not to spend countless hours on it either.

 

Final Thoughts

Business Architecture is an evolving discipline. It will always involve training the art, science and business practice’s to Business Architects and stakeholders alike. Interfacing’s, consultant professionals are on hand to guide your teams on Business Architecture Service and decision making planning.

 

 

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