What Are Business Architecture’s Quantifiable Benefits?

by Jeff Scott, on Mar 21, 2016 10:37:16 AM

Quantifiable-Value-for-BA.pngHow do you quantify the benefits of business architecture? I get this question a lot. And while my initial inclination was to figure it out, I have come to the conclusion that this isn’t the right question to ask. Yes, I know your sponsor – CIO, CEO, CFO, etc. – is asking, but it isn’t a question you can answer. So, change the question.

After four years as the business architecture analyst for Forrester Research and four more years consulting with F500 business architecture practices I have yet to see a good case study that quantifies the benefits of business architecture. I fairly regularly hear someone say that “so-and-so” has one but I have yet to see one or even talk with someone who has seen one. Now, I am positive there must be a few out there so feel free to send me yours.

Since there are a lot of really smart business architects and a good number of successful business architecture practices but still no quantifiable benefits case studies, I have come to the conclusion that this is the wrong way to look at business architecture success. We should instead focus on value delivered and creating expressions of that value that business leaders can resonate with. In reality, very few things deliver quantifiable benefits. What exactly is the quantifiable benefit of your 72” wide screen TV? What quantifiable benefit does your HR department deliver? 

I encourage my clients to think about business architecture more like a strategy group. Why does a company invest in a strategy function? Usually because executives understand the gap they have in long range planning and responding to marketplace competitors. What is the specific quantifiable benefit they expect? They are hoping that new strategies will raise the overall performance of the company. While they expect improved business results, executives do not expect the strategy group to produce an ROI specific to their function. The value they deliver is largely clarifying choices.

Business architects might do better identifying the gap they are filling – of course this must be a gap executives and managers experience and need filled. And then identify the likely benefits the organization will experience. With good answers to these two questions, the “quantifiable benefits” question goes away - as long as business architecture delivers.

The bottom line:_________________________________________________________

Quantifying business architecture’s benefits is near impossible. Business architects should focus more on targeting recognized pain points and clarifying the value they deliver.


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