by Business Analysis,
Business architecture is a commonly used term in the business analysis domain as well in most organisations. This article describes in simple language what the term means and why it is so important.
Like many things in the English language and in the business analysis world, the term “business architecture ” means many things to many people! This article attempts to disperse the general fuzziness that surrounds the discipline of business architecture and to convince you why it’s important to your business’s success.
The BABOK describes business architecture as “Business architecture models the enterprise in order to show how strategic concerns of key stakeholders are met and to support ongoing business transformation efforts. Business architecture provides architectural descriptions and views, referred to as blueprints, to provide a common understanding of the organization for the purpose of aligning strategic objectives with tactical demands.”. BABOK also has a knowledge area called Strategy Analysis which describes “the BA work that must be performed to collaborate with stakeholders to identify a business need of strategic or tactical importance, enable the enterprise to address that need, and align the resulting strategy for the change with higher and lower-level strategies.”
The BizBOK describes business architecture as a “blueprint of an organisation. It provides a holistic, multi-dimensional view of the business’s capabilities, information, end to end value delivery, organisational structure and the relationships among these views. It provides a common understanding and is used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands.”
The OpenGroup describes business architecture in the TOGAF Standard (ADM) as “Business Architecture is a representation of holistic, multi-dimensional 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. Business Architecture relates business elements to business goals and elements of other domains.”
With the aim of keeping things simple, I’d like to propose two ways to unpack the term, namely, there is business architecture the noun and business architecture the verb.
Let’s start with the noun, the object or thing. Every business has a business architecture. It may not be written down, it may be small or large, it may or may not be well organised and it may or may not even be called as such – it does however, exist. Every business has a customer, it includes employees and operations, and has tools and information it works with. This is the physical manifestation of a business architecture. Corresponding to this is the physical creation of a documented business architecture knowledgebase. This is where the organisation is represented digitally or on paper from different perspectives such as its, products/services, organisational structure, information/data, value streams, customer journeys , business capabilities and so forth. The perspectives that are covered and the degree to which they are covered depends on the organisation and what is important to it or where its “secret sauce” of distinction lies.
The knowledgebase is invaluable in aligning the organisation to a common, mental model. If we are expected to work together, ideally we should have a shared, common understanding of our organisation. How can we begin to manage changes to our business if we don’t even have a common understanding of what we are working with and for whom? Add to the mix the constant pressure that is exerted on the business by industry demands, aggressive competitors, the global economy, demanding and price sensitive customers, rapid technology changes and so forth… It is no wonder most organisations are working hard to keep their heads above water let alone being able to lead the pack!
Now for business architecture the verb – the doing, action word. Simply put, business architecture is a three-step process of business analysis on a strategic level where strategic level refers to any change to the organisation that is intended to significantly move the organisation forward and bolster it in terms of growth, competitiveness, and customer satisfaction.
The three-step process requires you first identify where the organisation is, secondly, where does it want to be, and lastly, how best to get there? This is done on a continuous basis until the ultimate outcome is achieved and benefits are derived.
The process is about the strategic planning and the effective doing to best achieve a desired strategic goals and objectives. We know that strategic change is never quick – it is fraught with tough decisions, usually spans 1 to 5 years, and multiple teams of people. Over time it can get very expensive and the solution plus the delivery vehicle of the programs and projects that are intended to deliver the solution can get significantly complex. It is only by performing the steps mentioned above and truly understanding and maintaining the relationships between these 3 perspectives over an extended time, that ensures an organisation is able to minimize costs, reduce wastage and improve ROI.
What if we had that knowledgebase and the competency to continuously analyse the business from all these perspectives continuously? We can simplify complexities, talk the same language and communicate more effectively, on board new team members quickly, have meaningful conversations, enhance quality and productivity, reduce risks and costs, ensure greater alignment between strategy and project delivery, reduce decision making times and increase accuracy and confidence in decisions – all of which increases ROI and the achievement of strategic goals.
At BAPL we understand the science and art of business architecture. Through our strategic lead BA service, we make use of a structured, disciplined and sustainable approach to partner with you to make the right changes in the right way to help you achieve success and longevity.