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What is business architecture anyway?

by Jeff Scott, on Jan 18, 2017 8:03:00 AM

gear head.pngI’ve been thinking about the business architecture profession – where we are and where we want to go. We have been at this for at least ten years with a lot of struggle and a little success. I think it is time we reflect on where we’ve been, where we are currently headed, and where we might like to go. This is the fourth post in the series, “Reimagining Business Architecture”. The ideas expressed here are meant to stir thought in the community and I would definitely like to hear yours. Post a comment or email me at: Jeff.Scott@accelare.com.

There is little agreement among business architecture professionals about how to describe what they do


Accelare - Business ArchtiectureThere is a great amount of energy from business architecture community groups
 and various pundits to establish the one, the only, highly wordsmithed, industry standard, TRUE, business architecture definition. The successful business architecture community is ignoring these efforts for the most part by trying to create descriptions that actually reflect what they do and the value they create. Before, we jump to a well-crafted definition we should give some thought to what business architecture is and what it is we are trying to accomplish with it. Is it a product (i.e. blueprint), a profession, a function, an approach, or something else entirely? What are the salient elements of a business architecture effort?


Here are at least some of business architecture’s foundational elements.


1. Business architects create broader perspectives. Business architects’ primary role is to create broader perspectives. Most business architects will talk about this as creating an enterprise perspective but that isn’t completely accurate. Informing IT leaders of all the technology the organization owns before buying additional technology is creating a broader perspective for those decisions. Helping one business unit understand how it might leverage the capabilities of another business unit or how its actions might impinge on another unit is another example of creating broader perspective. Creating broader perspective might also go beyond the enterprise in the cases of marketplace, competitive, and new innovations perspectives.


2. Business architects provide “objective” analysis. Much of the day-to-day work of business architects is collecting data, organizing it, and analyzing it to understand what it means. This can be anything from project investments to strategic plans. Though most business architects struggle to be objective, I do see this as their ultimate goal.

3. Business architects facilitate complex problem solving. Business architects apply what they have learned through creating broader perspectives and business analysis to supply information to complex problem solving. They also provide tools, techniques, and facilitation to help business leaders arrive at and agree on solutions.


4. Business architects clarify strategy. Business architects clarify their organization’s strategic intent by looking at both aspirational strategic statements and day to day tactical reality. They clarify, expand, structure, and illuminate strategic intent to make it consumable across the organization. Business architects use this illumination to help translate corporate strategic intent into aligned, focused, and targeted action at the business unit and department levels.


5. Business architects design strategy execution. While few business architects are meaningfully involved in creating corporate business strategy they do play a significant role in how that strategy gets translated into business unit operational strategy and tactical action. For most successful business architecture practices, this is their ultimate goal.


6. Business architects research new business alternatives. Advanced business architects apply their perspective building, problem solving, and business analysis skills to explore new business opportunities. This might be in the form of more efficient ways to structure the organization’s operational work but it also includes applying current capabilities in innovative ways, identifying new capabilities to build, and envisioning new products and services for business leaders to consider.

What would you change/add to this list? Please post your thoughts or send me a note. Jeff.Scott@Accelare.com

The bottom line:______________________________________________________________

Business architecture is much more than a set of “blueprints”. To clearly describe who we are, we must first explore what we do and what we want to accomplish even if these are aspirational at this point.


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