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The Place of Business Architecture within Enterprise Architecture

by Daniel Lambert

Fortunately, enterprise architecture is not always only about IT documentation anymore. Enterprise architecture is trying more and more to be involved with the digital transformation of their organization. Yet, their digital transformation initiatives are still too often planned and deployed without involving the business side of their organization. Business architecture, one of the four foundational domains of enterprise architecture, is too often neglected and even dismissed altogether in budget constraints. Rarely do enterprise architecture initiatives start with business architecture as they should. To succeed, an organization and its CIO(s) need to focus more resources on building and communicating business architecture change maps that will involve not just its enterprise architects, but also its business executives, its business architects, its product managers, IT portfolio managers, obviously its CIO(s), and all its short-term and long-term planning ecosystem.

Figure 1 - Enterprise Architecture Domains.png

Combining Business Architecture with Enterprise Architecture

CIOs try to digitize their organization using enterprise architecture by focusing more on the application/service, information/data, and technology/infrastructure domains and leaving toward the end business architecture with almost no resources. If an organization really does want to focus on an enterprise perspective of its solutions and technology, then it must begin at the top using business architecture, as shown in Figure 1 above. 

Because the funding for enterprise architecture is limited and high-priority projects and programs are often competing for funding and the best resources, the business architecture resources are sacrificed to make way for technical architects (application, data, infrastructure).  Doing enterprise architecture without basic business architecture is in reality doing IT architecture instead of enterprise architecture. Limiting enterprise architecture practices to IT architecture is probably one of the main reasons why in 2021 only 35% of all digital transformations were successful according to the Boston Consulting Group[i].

To succeed more often, organizations and their CIOs need to focus more resources on communicating and building business architecture change maps that will involve not just enterprise architects, but also business executives, business architects, and obviously, the CIO, using the 5 agile strategy execution steps shown in Figure 2 below.

Figure 2 - 5 Agile Strategy Execution Steps.png

Adding Agility to your Enterprise Architecture Practice

In the first step, “Business Design & Strategy”, enterprise architects need to collect corporate goals and strategies to disseminate them into meaningful objectives and tactics at lower levels of their organization. They may work together with CXOs, head office strategists, business unit managers, business managers, and or change managers. A few initiatives at a time in the second stage, “Architecting Transformation”, enterprise architects need to build a detailed business and enterprise architecture model and knowledge base that reflects as much as possible the current state of their organization and their desired future state regarding the contemplated initiatives. Enterprise architects will usually need to cooperate with at least some of these stakeholders: clients/partners, subject matter experts, business managers, change managers, product managers, marketers, application architects, solution architects, data architects, business intelligence architects, IT architects, and or software architects.  At this stage, the main objective of enterprise architects is to find the enabling and problematic capabilities that need to be addressed to optimize the critical strategic value streams and make the desired future state a reality.

 

In step 3, “Initiative Planning”, enterprise architects should support CIOs, program managers, and or portfolio managers alongside financial analysts in the delivery of a high-level roadmap that can be decomposed into fine details for later delivery. Once a roadmap is selected, enterprise architects should also get involved in step 4 “Agile Delivery & Execution” with clients, partners, users, agile experts, business processes experts, business analysts, software developers, IT architects, and or software architects. Finally, in step 5, “Success Measurement”, enterprise architects may be involved in the measurements that need to be completed to examine if goals, objectives, and outcomes have been reached.

Figure 3- Agile Architecture vs Traditional Enterprise Architecture.png

For business and enterprise architects to get more involved with the entire planning ecosystem of their organizations to increase the success rate of digital transformation projects, they need to become more agile as shown in Figure 3 above. A more agile architecture is becoming vital in competitive environments, agile corporate planning, and highly iterative initiative/project deliveries as pointed out in this article entitled “Agile Architecture: Becoming a Reality”. Yet, agile architecture does not mean free-for-all and a lower level of discipline. Far from it! A more agile architecture requires a set of collaborative skills in all five steps of an Agile Strategy Execution, where architects need to iterate with the entire planning ecosystem of their organization. This is in fact a level of discipline that has rarely been reached by traditional enterprise architects that still today tend to work and plan in siloes and too often tend to build unrealistic roadmaps that are most often only partly delivered at best.

Justifying Financially Business Architecture

Justifying your business architecture practice by following the 5 agile strategy execution steps mentioned in Figure 2 is straightforward. The benefits factors of your business architecture practice will include a strategic value contribution, strategic and tactical delivery improvements, and operational execution improvements, as shown in Figure 4 below. There are also costs associated with your business architecture practice. These costs include the compensation of business and enterprise architects, proper training, and one or several collaborative software business and enterprise architecture application tools.

Figure 4 - ROI of your EA Practice.png

Calculating your strategic and tactical delivery improvements alone is usually sufficient to justify your business architecture. It can even be estimated before starting your practice simply by calculating the time savings of all the stakeholders involved in project deliveries of a digital transformation of an organization as shown in this article entitled “What’s the ROI on Your Business Architecture Practice?”.

Conclusion

To succeed in its digital transformation, an organization needs to focus more resources on building and communicating business architecture change maps that will involve not just its enterprise architects, but also its business executives, its business architects, its product managers, IT portfolio managers, obviously its CIO(s), and all its short-term and long-term planning ecosystem. To increase the success rate of digital transformation projects, enterprise architects need to become more agile. Yet, agile architecture does not mean free-for-all and a lower level of discipline. Far from it! A more agile architecture entails a set of collaborative skills in all five steps of an Agile Strategy Execution, where architects will iterate with the entire planning ecosystem of their organization. This is, in reality, a level of discipline that has rarely been achieved by traditional enterprise architects that still today tend to work and plan in siloes and too often have a tendency to build unrealistic roadmaps that are most often only partially delivered at best.

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[i] Source: This 35% ratio from the Boston Consulting Group is extracted from this article entitled “Performance and Innovation Are the Rewards of Digital Transformation” published on December 7, 2021, and written by Patrick Forth, Romain de Laubier, Saibal Chakraborty, Tauseef Charanya, and Matteo Magagnoli.

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