Sunday, January 31, 2016

Don't Sacrifice Your Business Architecture

Business architecture is core for an organisation’s Enterprise Architecture. Both the leading Enterprise Architecture frameworks, TOGAF and Zachman advocate Business Architecture to become a fundamental corner stone of Enterprise Architecture. Business architecture is about not just about business process modelling and business capability definition on a project to project basis. I think it is also about defining the Target Operating Model of the organisation. I have personally experienced the power of applying pragmatic business architecture to model current (as-is) and target (to-be) business operating models.
However Business Architecture is not easy to deliver on. An organisation needs skilled and experienced practitioner architects to engage stakeholders, establish relationships to understand and model the business capabilities, business processes workflows etc. Business architects should ideally also need reasonable domain knowledge of the respective business to make a meaningful contribution in the design of such model. Otherwise that individual runs the risk of becoming simply (an expensive) documentation resource.
These days often the funding for Enterprise Architecture is limited and high priority projects and programs are often competing for best resources and funding. In these situations often the Business Architecture resources are sacrificed to make way for technical architects (e.g. infra, integration). In such scenarios an organisation runs the risk of doing Enterprise Architecture without Business Architecture. This probably results in this organisation doing IT Architecture rather than Enterprise Architecture. See below graphic. 
It will probably still deliver value by bringing structure, discipline, visibility and planning to the critical IT project delivery. However these efforts risk falling short of becoming something much more meaningful and sustainable investment for business and not just IT.

I strongly feel that organisations should not sacrifice Business Architect. When resource and funding is limited, instead such organisations should find clever alternative ways to resource them. Some of the options which have worked for me in the past are;
  • Get your most important projects to fund it and then expand that to Enterprise level
  • Use your experienced application or data architect to play the role of Business Architect in the interim
  • Leverage your strategic partners / suppliers to perform this role
  • Leverage your customers / internal business stakeholders to play this role directly and indirectly. I came across an excellent real life use case of this recently. More on this in next post.

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