Five Myths of Business Architecture –Blue Print or Stove Pipe

Sunday, May 13, 2012 | comments

As an emerging domain, enterprise architecture plays significant role to help shape contemporary enterprise, as today’s businesses become over-complex, hyper-connect and always on. However, the high percentage of EA project failure rate is a good cause to revisit its fundamentals, refresh its knowledge, debunk its myths and make continuous improvement.

BA as part of EA via wikipedia definition also has the same mystery: attractive to become an effective tools but puzzled with diverse understanding.

1.   Definition of EA & BA

 From Wikipeda:
Enterprise architecture (EA) is the process of translating business vision and strategy into effective enterprise change by creating, communicating and improving the key requirements, principles and models that describe the enterprise's future state and enable its evolution.[1]

A business architecture is a part of an enterprise architecture related to corporate business, and the documents and diagrams that describe that architectural structure of business

Object Management Group'sBusiness Architecture Working Group as follows:
"A blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization and is used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands." 

The myths are:
1) Is.BA is a PowerPoint presentation,  or a Business Solution?

2) Is EA = BA+ EITA?  If we translate this formula as: Enterprise Architecture is a synthesis of the Enterprise Business Architecture and Enterprise IT Architecture disciplines.

2. Purpose of BA

 The business architecture equivalent takes a look at balancing the business priorities and forcing conversations that are otherwise difficult to have. The real value of business architecture, is keeping the priorities in balance and that is within the office of executives.

a) Business planning to bridge of business strategy & execution
b) Business communication tool to keep leadership team at the same page, and stay focus on key priority.
c) Business improvement initiatives of sufficient significance to warrant Board attention
d) Risk/governance management
e) Board performance

EA is to ensure the enterprise as a whole is more effective than the sum of parts via better designing and envisioning.

1) Is BA an effective communication tool at C-level, to keep all executives at the same page by walking through discussion about strategy planning, governance, transformation, etc.

2) How to make the full architecture framework, documents  and charts simple, but not simpler? Highlighting the CHANGES, with standardization, coherence and visualization.

3. The Main Components of BA

BA’s components and views may include: A Process View, A Business Strategy View, An Organizational Structure View, An Organizational Governance view, A Business Capabilities View, A Business Value Stream view, A Business Value Chain/System View, a Business Operating Model view, and other views."

The lack of proper focus on BA is one of the biggest reasons why we have had mixed results (mostly failure) on EA

The key point: Keep Focus and ‘critical success factors’ 

1) Why is there a need to segregate the ‘business’ and ‘executive’ layers.

2) How should they be segregated? How will the segregation improve the enterprise business architecture?

4. The Users of BA

 Business Architecture is one practice driven by the C-level and INTERWOVEN throughout EA or a companies operating strategy. Therefore, BA’s users include:
1) C-level:  BA could become a great executive communication tool, particularly when the BA discussion is kept at a higher level. 

2)  Managers: The architecture that is created needs to be maintained and used by the managers to adapt and improve the organization in the future. 
3) EA (Enterprise & Business Architect), BA (Business Analyst) who are both BA designers and users.

How to use BA ?
The following are examples where you use Business Architecture:
• Shifting Business Structure
• Acquisitions
• BPM or Re engineering for efficiency
• Business Planning
• Project Initiation

Keep BA and EITA separate for most audiences. Better simplify the presentations by highlighting differences and how the strategy is supported.

1) Tractability is the major way of verifying BA correctness, but how?

2) There are not that many times when there are major strategy changes. How to keep BA relevant?

5. Is BA Part of EA?

Enterprise Architecture is a synthesis of the Enterprise Business Architecture and Enterprise IT Architecture disciplines.

BA should provide the business context for EA and therefore part of BA may become a component of EA 

 BA should drive much of EA. It should be part of the EA framework but doesn't necessarily need to be part of the EA organization. The lack of proper focus on BA is one of the biggest reasons why we have had mixed results (mostly failure) on EA 

Based on the Business Strategy, the sequence could be:

1) BA ending with a Future Vision, Strategy, and Roadmap.

2) Based on the BA results, develop an IT Architecture (Apps, Data, Infrastructure) and end with the future EITA, Vision, Strategy, and Roadmap. The ‘nexus’ between EBA and EITA is that they both contain components related to applications and information at different levels of abstraction.

3) The future EBA and EITA documents highlight (a) changes to the current architectures, and (b) how the future architectures support the business strategy. Emphasis being on ‘hot issues’ and ‘critical success factors’

1) The argument:  EA is BA, but BA is not necessarily EA. Nothing else makes lexical sense
 Is lexical sense critical from architectural perspective?.

2) A business architecture would look for leverage within the ecosystems, industries, and domain knowledge that defines it.  How to define BA’s scope?

EA/BA is such a discipline to blend art and science, requires critical thinking and creative thinking at the same time, to invent new ways of doing things, new solutions, new approaches and new perspectives. The myths are not completely busted yet, and the debate is still on.

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