Vetting Business Architecture (BA) Approaches

Rate this:
Total votes: 0

This is the inaugural year for the BusinessArchitectureInstitute.org with its recent launch this past spring. The growth of interest and the demands for information surrounding Business Architecture (BA) have increased significantly over the past few years. BrainStorm BA conference attendees and BA training class students have benefited from seeing a new approach emerge for the enterprise. Hopefully, the reader has participated in one of this year’s BrainStorm events and learned of the many opportunities associated with the Business Architecture. Many participants are also investigating the various Business Architecture approaches developing in the marketplace provided by consulting firms and also those developed “in-house,” by various companies. As expected, competition for BA services is developing and providing alternatives for enterprises beginning a BA initiative. So, what does an enterprise investigate with regard to Business Architecture service offerings and how do they vet the BA approach? The enterprise must explore the various Business Architecture approaches available in the marketplace to ensure that the one selected will achieve the desired results. While this article is not a complete list of items that require examination when considering a BA approach, at the minimum, it is a starting point for the team vetting the various approaches. Perhaps the reader will find the information provided here useful for “pre-screening” various BA approaches.At the minimum, the BA service offerings undergoing evaluation must meet the following three basic requirements: First, it must define the Business Architecture in the context of the enterprise and its integration with the corporate strategy, IT and other architectures of the enterprise; second, it must describe the BA approach relative to a value creating system for the enterprise; and third, it must provide BA examples, case study models or reference models for comparative analysis. Please consider the explanation of these three points.

  1. Define the Business Architecture in the context of the enterprise and its integration: The BA is a structure with both internal and external relationships. It is not a concept, idea, discipline or behavior, but a formal blueprint of the enterprise built using architectural disciplines to improve performance. The components of a BA are integrated with one another, not juxtaposed. It is not a stand alone component, but an integrated one, linked throughout the enterprise. All of these relationships are formal, not casual, starting with the corporate strategy.
    For example, one must link an objective in the corporate strategy with a component in the BA. If the organizing principle for the enterprise has expanded up from the typical functions to core cross-functional processes or value streams, then this linking and integrating is quite natural. These end-to-end processes or value streams focus on results and outcomes delivered to customers, and are measured in customer terms. The results of the Business Architecture’s value streams performance are monitored against the desired outcomes expected in the strategy by using a Balanced Scorecard or other similar frameworks.
    Additionally, the BA must integrate with UML/RUP software development and package configuration. Integrating the BA and IT are critical and necessary for ensuring seamless links and traceability between business requirements and system delivered results. Many inputs and outputs of the enterprise are technology related, for example, there are repositories of data, and transactions between internal and external IT systems. These inputs and outputs are found and commonly shared in the Business Architecture models as well as the Data Architecture models. This is intrinsic in the design of the BA approach and mandatory; otherwise, the seamless links and traceability are compromised.
  2. Describe the BA approach relative to a value creating system: The results of any BA approach must improve some major aspect of enterprise performance thereby, justifying the expenditure of funds and allocation of resources. These results are, for example, happier customers, greater productivity and higher profits, and are critical to enterprise success. As a component of an enterprise value creating system, the BA approach must provide a clear and compelling reason for undertaking the initiative. This compelling reason is expressed in business terms, business results and benefits to the enterprise, not simply estimated hours and resources.

    The BA approach requires a precise definition of its potential and capabilities with regard to enterprise success. It must carefully illustrate integration, connectivity, and alignment. Researching BA results achieved by other successful companies is interesting and well worth the time spent, however, the risks and rewards require analysis specific to the enterprise considering the BA initiative. The enterprise must mitigate risks and leverage rewards through careful scrutiny of the approach. The BA initiative is not a “lab experiment,” but a reaffirmation and ongoing commitment to a disciplined architectural approach, that of formally designing and engineering the enterprise, not throwing it together and constantly patching it up!

  3. Provide BA examples: What does a Business Architecture model look like and how is it used? The enterprise builders need to see one before committing funds and resources to a BA initiative. Would any family ever commit to building a house without looking at the blueprint? If the BA service provider or consulting firm can not provide the enterprise builders with some sort of reference model or case study model, then view this unwillingness with serious concern. If scrutinizing an example of a Business Architecture is overlooked, then how will the builders know if they have successfully created one? A sound BA approach rich in examples, illustrations and templates is similar to many strategic corporate initiatives in that it is not one that you “figure out along the way,” but one with well defined milestones and deliverables, tied to a clear objective; that of improving enterprise performance.

The purpose of this article is to inform and provide the reader with a few ideas on vetting Business Architecture approaches. At the minimum, the three items discussed in this article are required for serious analysis of any BA approach or service offering. The consequences of failing to carefully examine them may result in a most disappointing BA initiative, falling short of executive expectations.

Comments

Join the Discussion

Remind me later

What are your professional development goals for 2022?

Take our Professional Development Survey
Take the survey now for an opportunity to win an online course worth up to $795!

The survey is just five questions long and only takes a few minutes.