What is a Business Architect?

The simple answer to what is a business architect is as easy as it is useless - business architect develops the business architecture. A more useful answer is that a business architect helps their organizational leaders understand the root of deficiencies in their organization and what the best approach to improving their organization.

There we are - a business architect helps leaders in their organization understand the source of a deficiency and the most effective path to a better organization. A business architect serves others to deliver their organizational improvement.

Job of the business architect

Like most enterprise architecture jobs, the job of a business architect is simple and complex. The simplicity is in the job's purpose. The complexity is doing the job.

Business architecture requires balancing vision, operations, and go-to-market.
Business Architecture Elements
We know that enterprise architecture systematically describes an organization in order to understand the complex structure with the purpose of effective improvement.

The business architecture is one part of the overall enterprise architecture. The business architect sets the stage for all other domain architects.

What does a business architect do?

Business architects help their leaders understand the source of a deficiency and the most effective path to a better organization.

How the Business Architect Does Their Job

Business architects work with you to understand the truth about your business. This will require tough conversations about the actual state of your business, where it wants to go, where it needs to go, and what change we require to get there.

The business architect will traverse your organization, working with senior leaders, operational leaders, product and go-to-market. They will gather information, perform analysis and engage in conversations leading to decision, action, and change.

How do you define business architecture?

Business Architecture balances revealing the current state with the improved future state. One of the central parts of a business architecture is capability - the ability of an organization to do something. Vision, goal, objective, value proposition, product, go-to-market, organization, process, and information comprise the rest of business architecture.

The relationships between organization, process, location, and informations systems explain what your organization does, and how it performs. We express these relationships as a capability, which allows a conversation about deficiency and improvement.

In Navigate we home in on vision, operations, and go-to-market. If you want to use different terms go ahead, we'll never get fixed on the label. You need to know:

  • Where are you trying to get to
    Vision, Big hairy audacious goal
  • How you work
    Operations, Process, Organization, Information flow, supply chain
  • How you engage with the market
    Product, customer, sales channels, business partners

When we understand vision, operations, and go-to-market we have enough understanding of your enterprise to find where the deficiency is, and what we need to do to improve.

Business Architect's Relationship with other Enterprise Architects

Successful business architects work collaboratively with everyone on the EA Team. Business architects need to translate the short-falls in the organization's operations without pre-supposing the correction. Your enterprise is a complex system. Deficiencies and improvements appearing anywhere is the system.

What makes a great business architect?

Great business architects have many of the same attributes of good architects. We have never seen successful business leaders turn down useful advice. They deeply appreciate those who can help them improve their organization. We focus great business architects on their organization’s product and customers, know where value is generated, internalizes structure & motivation, knows when they are communicating and when they are ‘doing the math,’ can effectively model, and is engaged in the change.

1. Product & Customer Focused

Your organization survives and thrives because it delivers products and services to your customers. Your organization has a go to market approach that is built around the market position you have, your target customer and the products you provide. At every turn, your organization needs to optimize for go to market. Product driven and customer-driven architecture uses techniques like business model canvas and customer value maps.

We use the business model canvas to validate all capability models.

2. Understands Value & How to Generate It

We love Lean Six-Sigma’s definition of value - anything the customer will pay for. It crisply separates activity that is important, like paying your taxes, from those that generate value, like reducing service failures.

Great business architects know where their organization creates value, how the value is generated and seek to optimize the entire architecture around value.

3. Internalizes Motivations & Goals

There is a feedback between strategy and execution. However, when the strategy or vision are not being explored, they are absolute. Regardless of the business architect’s beliefs or experience, they need to internalize where their organization wants to go. Good business architects can internalize their organization’s strategy, vision, and goals.

Many business architects struggle with internalization. Either they carry baggage from prior experience, or beliefs about what their organization can do. There is a simple example, Apple drives innovation and competes at the forefront of their industry. Many other manufacturers' business model is to be a fast follower and targets customers further back on the innovation cycle, or who are more price conscious. Both business models can deliver rewards to their shareholders. Getting confused about business model has nearly killed Apple in the past and kills many of its competitors.

Business architects serve. They work within organizations that have existing products, value propositions and target customers. Success comes from internalizing superior architecture.

4. Separates Communication from Analysis

There is a great deal of nonsense about architecture models. One set of nonsense suggests models need to be simple, easily consumable, and accessible to a wide range of consumers. These are views, or deliverables, not architecture models. A competing set of nonsense argues for comprehensive, detailed analysis of everything. Good architecture practice limits information capture to the bare minimum necessary to understand the system being explored, the question being answered and fitting within a broader enterprise understanding.

Great business architects separate analysis from communication. They know they may need to develop many complex models in order to have confidence they understand the root of a deficiency and the minimum changes to improve their organization. This will require working with the other domain architects because of the source of pain, or the solution, may be in security, IT systems, or infrastructure.

The TOGAF ADM is an iterative approach—one request for architecture work, which answers a strategy, portfolio, project, or solution delivery question. A common model based around a ruthlessly minimized core allows reuse existing information and incrementally builds a broader understanding of the enterprise.

Technically, business architects create views to explain the architecture in the context of a stakeholder concern. Practically, they create a broad set of deliverables that are tailored to their audience’s ability to consume information and act.

5. Effectively Models

Performing analysis is where we earn our living. Our value comes from understanding how the system works, where the levers of change are, and what change to apply.

Business architects generate value by performing analysis and exploring the best viable change in the context of competing issues with their stakeholders.

Effective modelling requires being able to exercise the model. Being able to inject change and see the output. Output that comes from measures relevant to motivations. Great business architects need to see the impact on effective measurements (KPIs).

6. Engaged in Change

No architect’s job stops at selection of the improvement. TOGAF’s Phase F & Phase G are where the change is planned and executed. These Phases are part of the base framework. Yet we keep seeing architects who think their job is to think the big thoughts. Balderdash.

Great business architects are active in the change. We estimate the most successful enterprise architects spend 60% of their time supporting change (Phase G). They provide coordination and interpretation. They get engaged in helping the change initiative. There are very high failure rates for digital transformation projects because architecture team stopped.

In summary, great business architects are focused on their organization’s product and customers, know where value is generated, internalize their organization’s structure & motivation, knows the difference between communicating and ‘doing the math,’ can effectively model, and are engaged in the change.

What do business architects do?

We know the attributes of great business architects; they focus on product and value, and so on. They balance Vision, Operations, and Go-to-Market. Exactly how?

Business architects work as part of the enterprise architecture team. They work with product owners, operational leads, technologists, and executives to drive the overall improvement of their company. They use an architected approach.

Business architects are accountable for:

  • Vision
    • Developing measurable representation of the organization's vision, or strategy. The measurable element highlights where the organization falls short of its hopes and aspirations.
    • We use the Navigate Atlas to support strategy and the Navigate Atlas to support Portfolio. Deliverables often include Kaplan Strategy Maps and Vision Maps.
    • Capability models can be used. They will identify the gap between current and future attributes will highlight the change.
    • This work will either be exploring the vision (Architecture to support Strategy), or translating the higher level vison to action (Architecture to support Portfolio and Project).
  • Operations
    Develop the changes in the organization and its IT systems that are necessary to close the deficiencies. Translate these changes into actionable roadmaps.

    • We will use Capability Models, Business Motivation Models, Organizational Maps, Process Models, Value Streams, and Information Flows to explore how and what your organization does, how it interacts, and how invisible items (information) flow through your organization.
    • Most often this work is execution of the vision or strategy. Either building transformation roadmaps (Architecture to support Portfolio) or guiding the execution of change (Architecture to support Project).
  • Go-to-Market
    Develop changes in the ability to deliver on the company and product value proposition and customer engagement.

    • We will use Business Model Canvas, Capability Models, Value Streams, and Information Flows to explore ability to deliver the value propositions and customer engagement.
    • Most often this work is about guiding execution of change (Architecture to support Project).
  • Normal deliverables
    • Navigate deliverables enabling the Change
      • Roadmap
      • Decision Document
      • Option Document
      • Value Assessment/Recovery Plan
  • Common Activity at work
    • Perform capability assessments to identify the change (efficiency, agility, etc) required.
    • Work with product owners and business analysts to improve the ability to deliver on product value proposition.
    • Support information & data architects to align the business information model to IT systems.
    • Support IT architects and solution architects when they are designing the IT systems that will deliver the capability improvement.

Business architects will often abstract the detail of how an organization works to find the levers of change. They will identify how to drive change to acheive the organizational goals, which can be as diverse as improving efficiency, expanding market, improving agility, or shedding mis-alignment with strategy.

How much does a business architect make?

Many business architects spend most of their time as translators and reverse-engineering. This work is valuable, but caps their earnings. When business architects deliver exponential value, they climb to the upper echelons of corporate hierarchy and command seven-figure compensations.

Glassdoor reports average compensation for business architects is $127,000, with a range of $91,000 all the way to $177,000. Senior business architects earn roughly 20% more.

Becoming a great business architect

Becoming a great business architect starts with understanding what a business architect is. We trust we answered that question. The next step ifs the professional development necessary to become a great business architect.

Conexiam has the training to provide you with the means. We offer online and on-demand training through our Enterprise Architecture with TOGAF and Navigate or TOGAF certification training courses. Year-long access to instructor-led online courses.

Once you have the basic training, you need a good toolset to perform analysis and communicate. Included in our training we provide Navigate tools and techniques in the EA Community.

While we can't help with experience & judgement that will propel you from potentially great to a great business architect, we provide pre-packaged mentoring in our free Personal EA kickstart, and one-on-one mentoring.

Enterprise Architect's Guide

Download the Enterprise Architect's Guide a TOGAF Series Guide on developing useful enterprise architecture.

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