How To Assess Business Architecture’s Progress

by Jeff Scott, on Mar 2, 2016 3:24:00 PM

Success_Curve.pngAs a business architecture consultant I frequently have to quickly assess where a business architecture team is in its evolution to understand how I can best help them. I have identified seven attributes that illuminate how far a business architecture organization has evolved and help me categorize them as struggling, succeeding, or sustaining practices. In my November post, Five Ways to Measure Business Architecture’s Performance, I listed the different approaches to measure results. In this post I want to share seven attributes you can use to perform a quick assessment of where your team is.

Goals – New business architecture initiatives largely focus on cost savings and operational improvement goals. Those that have made significant progress, have moved on to focus on investment rationalization. They are helping their organizations prioritize and sequence overall discretionary spending. Sustaining programs have set goals for strategy enablement and realization.
Focus – New business architecture teams have a large focus on business and IT alignment. Usually this comes from working in IT but I also see this focus from business side business architects. Succeeding business architects focus more on strategic alignment, both aligning business unit goals with corporate strategy and creating alignment among business units. Sustaining business architects have moved their focus to strategy realization and driving the organizational change necessary for strategic results.
Approach -   New business architects build models that help describe and understand the organization. Successful business architects have moved from modeling to analysis, building only the models they need to solve specific problems. They first understand the problem and then define the models that will lead to a solution. Sustaining business architects have largely moved to a consulting approach where modeling plays a less significant roll.
Scope – Struggling business architects are most often working with one business unit, usually IT. As they become successful they branch out to multiple business units, often helping them align with corporate goals and strategy. Sustaining business architects also work at the line of business level but do more true enterprise class work and spend less time with support functions such as IT and HR.

Sponsorship – Struggling business architects have little if any sponsorship. They may get funding from the CIO or other business executive but it is usually contingent on demonstrating value. The “sponsor” is not a true advocate. Succeeding business architects typically have at least one business executive sponsor who does advocate for them. Sustaining business architects have developed broad executive level sponsorship and advocacy.
Culture – Struggling business architects largely ignore their organization’s culture, which is a large part of why they struggle. Succeeding business architects have learned how to align their approaches with the prevailing culture or at least how to avoid major cultural clashes. Sustaining practices are actively working to challenge and change their culture to create the environment necessary for strategy realization.
Credibility – Struggling business architects have yet to establish their credibility. (Otherwise they wouldn’t be struggling). Succeeding business architecture practices are populated with business architects who have established a high level of personal credibility while sustaining business architecture practices have successfully transformed individual credibility to practice credibility. 


The bottom line:_________________________________________________________________

Very few business architecture teams have made it to solid sustainability but many have attained success. Most are still struggling.  These seven attributes will help you identify where you sit along the struggling-succeeding-sustaining continuum as well as give you a good idea of where to focus your energy.




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