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Five Ways to Measure Business Architecture Performance

by Jeff Scott, on Nov 5, 2015 10:25:26 AM

Over the years one of the most common questions I get is, how do you measure business architecture performance? While there isn’t an easy, one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there are a number of approaches that can provide some indication of success. Here are five methods business architects use today:


Return on Investment – Many business architects consider a positive ROI the holy grail of business architecture success. And it is certainly true that business leaders rarely argue with documented financial benefits. The problem with this approach is it puts business architecture largely in an efficiency role which is a positon of declining opportunity. The more savings you find, the less there are to find the next time. It also casts business architecture in a negative light. The people who appreciate cost savings the most are usually not the ones that gave up the money. While an ROI approach can demonstrate short-term success, it is not a measure for long term sustainability.


Maturity models – Maturity assessments are the most common measurement instrument found in business architecture practices. They are relatively easy to execute and can be done by the business architecture team with little to no outside help. They often cover a wide spectrum of performance. The BizBOK business architecture maturity model for example has 21 categories and a comprehensive framework of measurement criteria. This approach can inform a business architecture team on its operational performance but gives them less insight into their actual impact in the organization. It is not uncommon to see organizations or entire companies performing at a high level of maturity but not creating high levels of customer value.  


Benchmarks - Benchmarks can tell a business architecture practice how well they are performing against the much larger industry. Done well, where the comparison is against a selected group of high performing companies, benchmarks can provide a more objective view of performance than a maturity assessment with the added benefit of discovering best practices that can be applied to improve performance. Benchmarks against the wider business architecture community provide much less value as a comparison to the average business architecture practice sets a low bar. The biggest challenge with benchmarks is finding the right peer group to measure against. 


Customer feedback – Customer feedback can be a very clear indicator of performance and can point out very specific areas of improvement. While positive customer feedback may not ensure long-term success, you can be sure that negative customer feedback means you are on a direct path to failure. The challenge with this approach is getting honest, meaningful data. It can be difficult for people you have worked with closely to give you negative feedback. It can also be hard for them to ascribe a high degree of their success to the work you did.


Impact assessments – The method I like best but see applied the least is a business architecture impact assessment. This approach looks at the breadth, depth, and scale of business architecture’s impact. If the business architecture practice is working across most of the organization, engaging leaders from the executives to the frontline managers, and working on strategic and large scale initiatives, then they are very likely having a high degree of impact. This may be a difficult measure to apply, but provides the best indicator of long-term success and sustainability.

The bottom line:_____________________________________________________________


Measuring business architecture performance is difficult at best. Different measures look at different aspects of the business architecture practice. Regardless of the approach you take, measuring your performance is better than not measuring.

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