Business Architecture

The primary purpose of describing the architecture of an enterprise is to improve the effectiveness or efficiency of the business itself. This includes innovations in the structure of an organization; the centralization or federation of business processes, the quality and timeliness of business information, or ensuring that money spent on information technology can be justified.” The Network Dictionary states that, “many enterprise architecture frameworks break down the practice of developing and using EA artifacts into four practice areas. This allows the enterprise to be described from four important viewpoints. By taking this approach, enterprise architects can assure their business stakeholders that they have provided sufficient information for effective decision-making. These practice areas are: Business, Applications, Data/Information and Technology Infrastructure.

Breaking down and looking at just one side of this is Business Architecture. Business Architecture articulates the functional structure of an enterprise in terms of its business services and business information. One of the major outcomes of Business Architecture is a set of business capability models. The business capability is able to perform certain business functionality and deliver business results or values under certain circumstances. The business capability is provided by business services that state “what” the organization does while the business processes implement business functionality and define “how” the organization can execute its capabilities. A business capability is considered as “defined” when its business functionality is identified and implementation resources are reserved.

The business architecture must be able to convey this information to executives in a way that is readily understood and can lead to a series of strategic decisions on how to proceed. Business architecture generated visualizations foster intelligent conversations of the as-is state of the business and the issues that need to be addressed. This analysis also leads to more targeted initiatives to perform another level of analysis that would lead to proposed solutions. While the business architect may discover that certain business processes or capability models are lacking or poorly documented, it is not the business architect’s job to create these models or documents. Getting trapped in the minutia of building or integrating business processes, for example, would cast the business architect out of the role of architect and into the role of business process analyst – and these are two very different roles. The role of the business architect is to focus on gathering and synchronizing information about the business necessary to allow a wide variety of business professionals to view the current state of the business as input to situation analysis, problem solving, strategic planning, project planning and prioritization. Based on strategic plans and objectives, business architects can additionally assist with creating the as-is view of business architecture along with transition options. These tasks are the essence of business architecture and must remain the laser-like focus of the business architect.

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