A Business Architect is a domain specialist. In short, they architect the business. They support stakeholders understanding their organization, and how to change the organization. With that understanding, the stakeholders can confidently change their enterprise.
In order to understand the organization, the business architect will explore organizational structure, product and service strategy, go-to-market, process, and operations.
What is a Business Architect
The job exists for a reason. To help the stakeholders decide on the best change.
Business architects must understand their organization in terms of organizational structure, product and service strategy, go-to-market, process, and operations. They use that understanding to identify the source of deficiency. They use that understanding to change the organization.
Being a business architect is a job. It can be a profession.
To understand the role, we need to explore four things:
- Business architect is not a translator
- A business architect's value proposition is their support for changing the business
- A business architect works with their enterprise architecture team
- A business architect supports others decide
All domain architects assist an organization's improvements. Good business architecture focuses the improvement. Select the right change. Govern the change.
Business Architect & Strategy
Successful business architects get in the detail and help make the change. They work to understand the business and why its current structure needs to improve.
Too often we see business architects stay with abstractions, like capability, service or function. In order to change, we need to change organization and activity. Until we get here. Until we get into what will change, it's just PowerPoint.
Most business architects will not work developing organizational strategy. Even those who do will spend alot of time supporting execution. Most business architects need to be very good at interpreting strategy.
Hambrick's Strategy Diamond allows us to summarize the characteristics of a strategy. When we can complete a Hambrick Diamond we can have confidence the strategy is complete.
- Arenas Where will we be active? With how much emphasis?
- Differentiators How will we win?
- Vehicles How will we get there?
- Staging What will be our speed and sequence of moves?
- Economic logic How will we obtain our returns?
You still need to interpret a Hambrick strategy diamond. Knowing that your organization will focus domestically in existing markets (arenas) does not tell you how you will be organized.
A strategy provides the path to achieving objectives. The business architecture is the first domain that needs to be understood to be changed to best execute the strategy.
The business architect interprets the strategy and applies it to their understanding of the organization in terms of organizational structure, product and service strategy, go-to-market, process, and operations.
They use techniques like capability modelling, process design, service orchestration and organizational mapping to simplify the complexity of their organization.
Business architect jobs exist to
make the most effective use of change energy
improve your organization’s ability to change
Business architect is not a translator
A translator converts from one language to another. A translator goes to the business and asks what their structure and operations are. Then they translate into an architecture description. Useful, if you do not have a business architect.
Business architects do not translate an established business into architecture. Business architects, well, architect the business.
They work with stakeholders to identify where the current business is deficient. Where it is insufficiently nimble. Inefficient. Misses the customer promise. Where it misses and hope, dream or fear.
In our Predictable EA engagements, we talk about ‘the algebra’ or ‘the formula.’ We are talking about variables and constants. As we develop the architecture, the formula gets more and more constants. Good business architects try to work with as many variables to address the deficiency.
Business architects will use multiple techniques to develop the target business architecture. In Navigate we normally reach for standard models, reference models, and some analytic techniques.
- Capability Models
- Service Models
- Process Models (Logical & Actual)
- Information Models
- APQC Process Classification Framework
- Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR)
- Open Group’s IT4IT
- Porter Value Chain
- CISR’s Operating Model
- Kaplan Strategy Map
- Strategyzer’s Business Model Canvas
- Mintzberg’s Organigraphs
- OMG’s Business Motivation Model
These are the tools used to architect. To look at the business, see where it falls short. Understand the system and identify how to rectify the shortfall for the stakeholder.
A business architect's value proposition is support for best change
It is not their job to have the answer.
The business architect doesn’t look in, then go off and develop the perfect architecture.
A good business architect cannot have the knowledge and experience to know everything. No business architect could go off and single-handed develop the architecture.
We base the value proposition of a business architect on their ability to provide useful analysis. Closely tied is their ability to collaborate. Not work with, collaborate with.
Collaboration enables sharing of information and leveraging the ability, knowledge and experience of others to solve complex problems. Stakeholders and subject matter experts will have the ability and expertise.
The business architect supports developing the best answer. The best answer comes from trade-off. Stakeholders use the architecture development process to understand and make trade-off decisions.
A good business architect looks past day-to-day operations to the business as a system. You analyze the business as a system. Understand how it works, what drives it behaviours and outcomes. Then adjust the system to overcome the deficiency.
A business architect works with their enterprise architecture team
Enterprise architecture is a team sport with personal accountability. The blunt reality of a team sport is each of us has a different position and different specialization. We succeed when we work together. When we optimize across all the team.
Business architects work on one domain. An important domain. A critical domain to get right. However, only one part of the enterprise.
Changes in operation, organization, and IT systems must address many deficiencies in the business. Without a comprehensive approach to change, we lose the ability to find the simplest, easiest, smoothest path to success.
In order to work with other domain specialist, the business architect needs to collaborate. The need to share of information, hear, and leveraging the ability of others.
A business architect supports others decide
Business architects, like every other domain architect, serve. They server their stakeholders.
Explore the business domain to see how the business domain contributes to a deficiency.
Collaborate with their peers to look at the complete system and explore changes that address the deficiency.
Then, they work with stakeholders so that the stakeholder can select the change.
Once the stakeholder sets direction, they work with the sponsors so that the sponsor can develop the plan.
Once there is a plan, they assist the implementers execute the change.
They support others. They serve.
Good business architects use abstractions, like capability, service or function. In order to change, we need to change organization and activity. Until we get here. Until we get into what will change, it's just PowerPoint.
Just because you are a business architect doesn't mean everything is a variable. The business architecture domain is constrained by superior architecture. Prior strategy, portfolio, project and solution delivery decisions will constrain the business architecture under development. The target in other domains will also constrain.
All enterprise architecture is a simplified description of an organization that allows you to easily understand the complex structure and operation to effectively change it. To simplify analysis the enterprise architecture is divided in a set of domains – business architecture is one domain.
The business architect sets the stage for all other enterprise architecture.
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