- Self Assessment
Whether aware of it or not, an organization functions because it is made up of parts that are designed to work together in unison to accomplish the overall mission of the organization. These parts (employees, departments, project teams, competencies, processes, products and so on), taken together, form the business architecture of the complex social system which is the organization. The Business Architecture capability, on the other hand, reflects the organization’s intentional efforts to establish a formalized competency supported by dedicated people, processes, procedures, and technology, which expressly serves the purpose of aligning the strategic and operational goals and processes in the organization. It is safe to say, therefore, that every organization has a business architecture, but not necessarily a Business Architecture capability.
For architects and organizations that have embarked on building a well-defined Business Architecture competency, this article provides practical advice for conducting a Business Architecture capability maturity assessment, together with the key steps for using the maturity assessment findings to define the capability improvement roadmap.
We as architects are wired – perhaps more so than practitioners in other professions – to seek order and structure and to discern patterns. Our corporate clients, on the other hand, many of whom may have been steeped into the inner workings of their organization for some time, have other worries. They need to meet deadlines. They need to show progress. They need to make their numbers.
That is not to say that our clients do not intellectually understand that strategy and processes and alignment are valuable to the growth of their organization, but the burning question for them is – are they adding value to the organization now?
The focus on short-term targets pervades throughout all levels of the organization, and CXOs are not immune to it. On the contrary, they are most acutely aware that their own viability and value as leaders in the company is only as good as the last Annual Report.
What we all have in common, nevertheless, is a deep-seated need for predictability. It is this craving for predictability that can give us an immediate common ground with our clients when we start a new engagement. The start of a new consulting engagement is similar to a rite of passage, both for us and for our client. We open up to a new experience and they open up to new ideas. For this reason, one of the best opportunities you have to recommend (and get approval for) a Business Architecture capability maturity assessment is soon after commencing work with a new client.
Such an assessment is critical for us as consultants in order to get a baseline on how the client organization’s business strategy gets articulated through the Business Architecture and is further transformed into enablers that support execution processes (if indeed that happens). The client, in turn, gains a clear understanding of how the existing business architecture practices support (or don’t support) the strategy-to-execution continuum and a detailed roadmap for improving the integration of Business Architecture into the enterprise planning and management process.
In my practice, I have found the Business Strategy Guild’s Business Architecture Maturity Model™ (BAMM™) to be a useful and intuitive tool to use when assessing the maturity level of a Business Architecture competency in an organization. The BAMM™ is currently the only representative maturity assessment framework specifically designed for the Business Architecture practice.
However, I would be remiss to not highlight here that the BAMM™ is a relatively young framework and it is still going through its own maturation life cycle. Business Architects who want to consider a broader palette of choices in their maturity assessment tools can find additional inspiration in several well-seasoned Enterprise Architecture maturity frameworks (such as the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s Enterprise Architecture Management Maturity Framework , the TOGAF® Architecture Capability Framework , the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework , and even the now-retired OMB Enterprise Architecture Assessment Framework ).
This article leverages the BAMM™ as an illustration of a structured, repeatable way to evaluate and assess in quantitative terms how far along an organization is in building a Business Architecture competency. The key concepts in BAMM™ are listed here for reference.
The BAMM™ provides five well-defined maturity levels, which are viewed as evolutionary steps towards reaching a mature Business Architecture discipline in the organization. Each maturity level measures the extent to which a specific group of practices are explicitly defined, managed, measured, controlled, and effective.
Categories of Maturity Measures
The BAMM™ distinguishes between “foundational categories” of maturity measures, which are mandatory for every organization, and “relational disciplines”, which are categories of measures that apply to the relationship between Business Architecture practices and adjacent practices that may exist in the organization.
The BAMM™-recommended foundational categories of measures are used in assessing the following aspects of the Business Architecture capability in the organization:
Depending on the mission and nature of the work performed by the organization, one or more (or all) of the following non-mandatory categories of measures gauging the strength of the relationship between Business Architecture and related disciplines may also be relevant and should be included in the maturity assessment. The measures that are part of each one of these categories serve to evaluate the important aspects of the Business Architecture capability in the organization, such as:
The Assessment Process
The measures provided by BAMM™ for each of these categories and at each of the five levels of maturity form a frame of reference against which the capability maturity assessment can be performed at a fairly fast pace – one to two weeks, in general. The maturity assessment provides an opportunity for the client organization to go through a self-discovery process. Therefore, it is important that our approach and guidance throughout the process fosters inclusion, encourages self-reflection, and ensures the assessment is performed in an objective and non-judgmental manner.
I have personally find it productive to start the assessment with an offline documentation review, during which I take stock of relevant policies and procedures, governance charters, meeting notes, and the content of the client’s existing architecture repository. I follow my initial analysis with in-person work-sessions where I reflect back my findings and encourage clients to ask questions and to express their hopes and concerns about how Business Architecture can help solve problems in their organization. These conversations are crucial in fostering a shared view of what is possible in the near-term, given existing organizational constraints, and what could be accomplished in the long term with a mature Business Architecture group.
Once the maturity assessment is completed, the quantified results showing the current-state maturity level of the organization’s Business Architecture capability are plotted in a graphical format. These results form the baseline for devising a realistic roadmap for strengthening and growing the effectiveness of the Business Architecture capability over the following 2 – 5 years. The specific capability improvement activities for the planning period are then identified through a six-step process, as follows (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: From Assessment Scores to Capability Improvement Roadmap: A Six-Step Process
The results of the assessment process and of the subsequent evaluation of future desired maturity levels are best rendered visually, to facilitate the absorption of information and provide clients with a summary “snapshot” of the assessment scores. Spider-diagrams, for example (see Figure 2), can be used to capture the current-state readings and lay out the future course for the Business Architecture capability through time-based, incremental improvements.
Figure 2: Business Architecture Capability Maturity Assessment Results - Current State and Planned Improvements (NOTE: Measure category names are abbreviated.)
As a quick reality-check, a bar chart showing the evolution of the capability maturity average scores over the planning period (see Figure 3) can also be leveraged to pinpoint potential discontinuities in the planned evolution of the Business Architecture practice in the organization.
Figure 3: Current and Projected Average Maturity Scores for 5-Year Planning Period
Conducting a comprehensive and effective capability maturity assessment requires clear and open communications, an objective and pragmatic approach, and the use of a well-defined and repeatable assessment mechanism. The results of the assessment should be shared in an easy-to-follow report that facilitates participation and invites the clients to become co-creators of the capability roadmap. This report embodies the organization’s commitment to embrace Business Architecture as the main platform for discussing business goals, challenges and solutions. Therefore, refer to it often and use it wisely.
i Business Architecture Guild, http://www.businessarchitectureguild.org/
ii U.S. Government Accountability Office, http://www.gao.gov/assets/80/77233.pdf
iii The Open Group, http://pubs.opengroup.org/architecture/togaf9-doc/arch/
iv U.S. Office of Management and Budget, https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/egov_docs/fea_...
v U.S. Office of Management and Budget, https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/e-gov/eaaf