What is Business Architecture?
By Betsy Burton
For years, I have been talking with organizations about the importance of business architecture as a critical part of enterprise architecture. Many organizations are getting that it is important, but many still struggle with getting support and engagement with their business and technology peers.
On Wednesday, June 29, 2022, I had the opportunity to do a webinar on business architecture and these are some of the common questions we discussed:
What is Business Architecture?
Business architecture is a discipline focused on creating actionable deliverables that guide investment decisions (people, process, information, and technology) based on the key business aspects needed to achieve the future-state. Business architecture is focused on helping organizations bridge the gap between a company’s strategy and their successful execution of the corporate vision.
Business architecture is used to help integrate this strategy into clear actionable objectives by defining the enterprise in terms of governance, business processes, and business information. In defining these foundational frameworks, it considers the customer, finances, market, organizations, partners, strategic goals, capabilities, and key initiatives.
Should Business Architecture Be Part of Your Enterprise Architecture Effort or separate?
Yes, however it may require some evolution depending on the perception of your EA team.
We believe business architecture should be an integral part of your overall enterprise architecture (EA) efforts. In fact, we believe if you think you’re doing enterprise architecture and you’re not integrating business architecture then you’re probably not doing enterprise architecture – you’re probably doing technology architecture.
However, some organizations have a legacy enterprise architecture program that is very technology focused and thus adding a business discipline into that technology architecture effort can be very difficult and impact the effectiveness of business architecture. In these cases, it is reasonable to make business architecture a separate effort while it starts with the specific plan/commitment to integrate it once it gains some business and leadership support.
How Do We Start Conversations That Engage Business Leaders?
The best practice is to always start conversations with business as well as technology leaders by bringing something that would or could be valuable to them. Don’t start a conversation with a blank slate or by asking them what they need. The problem with this, is they may not know what they need and if you ask them what they need you may get a plethora of issues and concerns that have little to do with the business strategy.
If you start a conversation by bringing an example of the types of deliverables you can create that answer a question that you believe they have, they start to see your immediate value. Don’t worry that you may not correctly identify the questions that they actually have or their issues immediately. That’s OK as long as you are showing that you can answer questions that they may have and then deliver value, you begin to start a positive engagement conversation.
They will be more likely to tell you what their strategic issues and needs are, once they trust that you can really help them.
We find that 70-80% of organizations do not support a clear and actionable business strategy. Given all the changes affecting our businesses (e.g., economic, social, political, environmental, people and technologies), it is critical that organizations define an effective business architecture in order to drive execution.
Here at Aragon Research, we are providing clients with actionable, pragmatic advice to help them define and deliver an effective business architecture program. I would encourage anyone interested in this topic to view our Enterprise Business Architecture page to see all the research, blogs and webinars we have related to this topic. And of course, clients should feel free to schedule an inquiry to discuss their specific issues and opportunities.