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A Few More Thoughts

by Jeff Scott, on Jan 3, 2017 9:31:00 AM

Accelare - Business Architecture I’ve been thinking about the business architecture profession – where we are and where we want to go. Though the concept of business architecture arose in the late 1990s it was really just ten years ago that we started to see practices start up and the initial ideas for the profession get defined. After a decade of progress (and struggle) it is a good time for some taking stock and reflecting on what we have accomplished and where we go from here.

What do we know?

Business architects know a lot about the details of their role - modeling, road mapping, etc. But what do we know, and perhaps more importantly agree on, about the larger world of the business architecture community around us? If we are to successfully move forward, we need to have a pretty good understanding of where we are today. Here are 11 things I believe to be true about our profession. I may be incorrect and am certainly incomplete so I invite you to post the things you think are true and to challenge any of my perceptions you think are wrong.  

  1. Business architecture has been an active discipline for roughly a decade. Yes, there were some early adopters before that and it took a while to build mass, but 2005 seems as good a starting point as any. I know Forrester starting writing about business architecture in 2007, because I was their first business architecture analyst. Does anyone know when Gartner or the CEB first wrote (meaningfully) about business architecture?
  2. There continues to be confusion and disagreement on the definition, role, and organizational placement of the business architecture function.
  3. There are very few proven “best practices”. Yes, there are a lot things business architecture commentators believe should be best practices, but very few have been proven to work in a wide array of contexts.
  4. Capability modeling is at the core of business architects’ efforts with value stream modeling close behind. Many other models are used but are not nearly as prominent.
  5. Most business architecture practitioners and industry leaders have an IT background. That includes me by the way.
  6. Most business leaders are unaware of business architecture and what it can do for them. There are no HBR, Fortune, Forbes, etc. business architecture articles. There are no business architecture degree programs. The driving force behind business architecture is coming from enterprise architects, business analysts, independent consultant, and small (mostly IT based) consultancies.
  7. Most successful business architecture functions are led by one or two forceful leaders who provide the vision and drive for the group. They typically have only one or two senior manager advocates.
  8. Most initial business architecture initiatives fail within two years. I use “initiatives” here instead of practices as I think many business architecture efforts never get formally established.
  9. Even most successful business architecture practices have not reached what I would call organizational sustainability where the practice can withstand budget cutbacks, management changes, and organizational redesigns.
  10. Each business architecture practice is unique. Even though there is a fairly large push to create a standard definition of and execution plan for business architecture, architecture practices remain largely unique in their mission and approach.
  11. Business architects recognize the driving elements of their organizations are people, process, and technology. They have developed robust models for technology and process but almost none for people.
What would you add to this list? Please post your thoughts or send me a note. Jeff.Scott@Accelare.com

 The bottom line:_________________________________________________________________

Business architecture is a great concept that has yet to move into the mainstream. In our first ten years we have seen some anecdotal successes but as a profession we are still struggling. What will it take to move us forward to a highly recognized and sustainable profession?  

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