Business architecture is generating a lot of interest and attention recently, and for good reason, as it helps companies bridge the strategy through the execution gap by creating concise views and definitions of the business. It also allows IT to focus on best practice technology without having to “guess” what the business means, thereby enabling the company to focus on driving transformational change.
Whynde Kuehn, Founder and Managing Partner of S2E Transformation, says, “Business architects should challenge themselves to be not only architects but also leaders and change agents – and develop value-added skills that complement the business architect role.”
Now, let’s dive into three smart strategies to boost your business architecture efforts:
Business architecture is a journey that is constantly evolving and maturing – as is your organization. If your business architecture efforts started small and built over time or business architecture at your organization was initiated from up above to manage digital transformation efforts, executive sponsorship is key to ensuring credible introductions across the business and providing an incentive for people to work with you. In short, if you haven’t obtained executive sponsorship, it’s not too late. Reach out to your supervisor, CIO, or even COO to garner their support.
Sharing business architecture’s value is another important element that is easy, given the very output of business architecture is traceability. Architecture gives traceability at an enterprise level, which is imperative now more than ever as organizations grow at a rapid pace and as everybody is working in agile environments, with less governance and increased time to market. Business architecture breaks strategies down into objectives, objectives into initiatives or projects maps them to capabilities which are used in value streams, and then tracked to people, processes, and technology. At its very core, business architecture shows how projects and sprints tie back to the bigger picture of the enterprise transformation and show the impact of this enterprise transformation on the capabilities. Thinking about initiatives enhancing the business capability, business architecture switches the mindset of funding a project to funding a new capability, thereby allowing business leaders to better understand where funding is used and can then tie it back to the long-term objectives and vision of the organization.
Lastly, when sharing the progress of your efforts, make sure to take the extra step to think like an executive and communicate to them in their language by connecting the changes to improvements in profitability, efficiency, and cost management.
Simply stated, the Business owns the blueprints for the strategic direction and vision of the company, and business architecture supplements this by owning the architectural vision and recommending how to translate their ideas into action. To maximize this, it’s imperative for business architects to go into the business units, understand how they work, and interact with customers to design it in architectural terms. This will not only help boost your business architecture efforts, but it will also build your credibility as your work will be more complete and accurate.
Further, team up with your fellow architects to show a more robust approach to business value. Enterprise Architects, IT Architects, Solution Architects, and Data Architects need Business Architects and vice versa. For example, business architecture needs to understand customer journeys so they can understand what changes will impact key decision points. To do this, it’s vital to connect with IT and Solution Architects to understand the integration. Further, if a company wants to make a change to its business model (e.g. merger & acquisition, expansion, or new solution), business architecture needs to work together with IT and Enterprise Architects to understand the enterprise view and technology components. Be the connector and your entire team will be recognized for greater value.
It’s important to consider how the relationship between IT and the Business changes and adjusts as organizations introduce Agile methodology and Lean approaches. When business architecture completes current state models, the full value of business architecture comes to bear and “what-if” scenario modeling can be instantly created with greater detail and accuracy. The shorter the ability to understand the impact of “what-if” scenario modeling, the faster a company can get feedback, analyze it and incorporate it. Business architecture plays a critical role in connecting the impact of decisions in people, process, and technology, thereby bridging the strategy-to-execution gap.
Putting this into action, companies are making important decisions every day whether to expand, introduce a new product, merge or acquire a new company, reduce costs, increase risk resiliency, the list goes on. Drilling down into one of these examples, we know that in a merger or acquisition one company will need to merge operations, financial functions, business units, and other aspects of the enterprise with the newly acquired entity. This requires an understanding of all levels of overlap and redundancy to develop a new operational plan which requires common definitions of processes, capabilities, rules, business units, customer types, etc. The role of business architecture in this type of scenario is to enable management, architects, and analysts to have a common view from a cross-functional and cross-disciplinary perspective. This “what if” scenario modeling puts business architecture at the center of the organization, and most importantly, enables the company to have a common view of measurement and success.
Business architecture is a journey, not a destination – and the output of your work will constantly evolve, too. Organizations like The Business Architecture Guild are working to make business architecture easier by establishing a network for business architecture to come together and creating industry-standard reference models. Software is also creating platforms for business architecture by establishing capability maps in a dynamic environment that allows current state and dynamic “what-if” scenario mapping to test new strategies and outputs.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” Utilize these three strategies to steer your business architecture efforts and you will also see improvement, achievement, and success.
Michel Sauvage, Business Architect at CIMPA, a subsidiary of Sopra Steria specializing in Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) services, presented how digital continuity is used for strategic advantage at Airbus and other manufacturers during our 2018 annual enterprise architecture conference. His example can be read in our article How Airbus leverages data for growth.