What will Raise the Profile of the Business Architecture Discipline?

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GR: I wondering as practitioners, what do you think that we can do to help raise the profile of the Business Architecture discipline?

SL: Well, success in Business Architecture just like in any other discipline, is to a large extent, a matter of attitude. In my view, business architects need to approach every new client and every new assignment both with optimism and with curiosity. But, also with an understanding and an acceptance of the fact that they will have to provide a good dose of education as to what Business Architecture is, how it relates to IT, how it relates to strategic planning, and so on.

One element of this education is to explain that Business Architecture has many facets. Just like when you have an IT project, you don't hire a generic IT person for it, you hire a software developer, or a tester, or a configuration manager. Well, in the same fashion, for Business Architecture, you don't hire a generic business architect. Business architects come in a variety of specialties and I think we need to recognize that.

You have strategists, folks who monitor the external business environment, they discern trends, they discern impacts at the business level, and they build the business cases for internal change.

Then you have what I would call the strategic business architects; they take their input from the strategists, and they turn it into foundational Business Architecture artifacts (i.e., enterprise level blueprints, capability maps) that inform and support the business cases.

You have the tactical planners who use these foundational artifacts and they develop initiative level roadmaps and they identify the value streams.

Then you have the tactical business architects who are sort of farmed out to directly support business areas or initiatives, they develop very deep knowledge into those business areas, and they develop the baseline and the target Business Architecture for those areas or those initiatives.  

Last but not least, very important, you have the tool people, you have the repository administrators, you have the modelers. Some of the modelers may come from the previous categories that I mentioned, but not necessarily.

So, being able as a business architect to articulate where you are on this business continuum, on this professional continuum, and therefore where you can provide the most value as a business architect, is important because it builds your credibility as a practitioner, and it builds the credibility of the discipline as a whole.

Having the right training, having the right certifications, going about applying Business Architecture techniques in a standardized way is also critical here. I’ve been in situations where you have a team of business architects, each one of them has evolved towards being a business architect in different ways, they don't quite speak the same languages, and I think that's where having the right kind of training (such as the one that the Business Architecture institute provides) helps standardize the language. It helps it helps us all speak common terminology and a common language.

Now the other thing that I think is important to be successful as a business architect is to achieve quick wins. You're coming into an organization, you want to help them out, but at the same time they have to accept you, they have to accept your support. So, introducing at the fast pace a few simple concepts such as the use of reference architectures, such as developing an initial business function model or a business capability model, introducing the use of a modeling tool, or inserting yourself into the governance process for IT projects, these are small steps, but they're important steps. This way, you can gain the trust of the management early on and you can give them a taste of the bigger things to come.

GR: I think that's important. I think paralysis by analysis is something that affects lots of organizations. So, I couldn't agree with you more. I think getting some of those early wins helps to get folks on board with the purpose and the capabilities of the discipline and helps to give that early momentum so that the executives are willing to continue to fund the effort and participate. in those efforts as they start to see some of the early fruit.

Relevant Programs: Business Architecture Certificate

Relevant Training Events: Summer Session 2Fall Session 1


Editor’s Note: This is a five-part article and video series.

Watch the entire Top 5 Things to Know About Business Architecture video series

Read the other articles in the series here:

Article 1: What does Business Architecture Mean for You?

Article 2: Do Organizations Understand the Value of Business Architecture?

Article 4: When does Business Architecture Make a Difference?

Article 5: What does the Future Hold for Business Architecture?


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