EA & BA: A Tale of Two Roles

Thursday, May 17, 2012 | comments

"In order to be a realist you must believe in miracles."  -David Ben-Gurion

EA-Enterprise Architect and BA-Business Analyst are two interesting business roles cause a lot of debate, it may indicate both roles are crucial at hyper-complex enterprise today, also reflect two talent trends in 21st century: enterprise visionary and business solutionary.

The diverse understanding about the two roles may also depend on the maturity of EA, the maturity of IT and overall maturity of enterprise,
Here are five key differences between the two roles:

1.   Breadth & Depth

EA may focus on enterprise level scope, while BA might need dig into specific project, though it may not say breadth is always superior than depth

 Level of Details:  The BA works at a fine level of detail to fully understand the current situation and/or problem to be solved. The EA works at a course grained level of detail, a synthesis (summarization and/or abstraction) of all projects and/or business areas that is, a portfolio view of business areas. 


2. Synthesis vs. Analysis:

Enterprise Architect is a "synthesis" role - key words are holism, visioning, aggregation, while Business Analyst is “analysis” role-key word are: artifact, insight, segregation.

EA’s main focus is on understanding the links between the parts, as EA need synthesize the holistic business view to ensure enterprise as a whole more effective and efficient than the sum of parts; while BA need analyze and solve specific business problem via gathering inter-related data & fact

Both EA and BA could be process driven, EA with synthetic mind, help blueprint the future of business; Business Analyst with analytic mind help breakdown the problems, they may have complementary skills to solve complex issues

3. Insight vs. Foresight , Reality vs. Future

EA need not only walk through today’s enterprise, more importantly help perceive the future state of business; while BA need focus on reality,  untangle current business puzzles.

Business Architecture and Business Analysis are linked to each other in a closed reinforcing loop (analysis provides "insight" to synthesis, while synthesis provides "foresight" to analysis) - each feeding on to the other for a better outcome (which is understanding and management of business complexity).

4. Accuracy vs. Betterment

 Two roles may focus on different business objectives: The BA works towards the accuracy of the representations (e.g., artifacts, models, etc.) of the current state of their projects and/or business areas for localized decision making. The EA works towards enterprise “betterment” (which is dependent upon the enterprise business strategy & future state of business) which leads to decisions that affect multiple projects and/or business areas which embrace collaboration, consolidation and reuse. 

5. “Dispassionately” breakdown vs. “Passionately” blueprint:

 From innovation perspective: business analyst need "dispassionately" examine the alternative, though "dispassionately", also need such curiosity and creativity to open the new box of mindset in order to solve the old problems; for EA, to blueprint the future of business is not just knowledge & skills, but also passion & vision and imagination 

No doubt, the organization need both types of talents: EA as enterprise visionary,  and BA, as business solutionary. If the talent are good at both disciplines, which is even more valuable, and at least, two type of talent need work more closely either via physical team or virtual group to solve complex, cross-disciplinary issues and shape an optimal enterprise. By working together, they can achieve first rate intelligence:

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise."
— F. Scott Fitzgerald

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