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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

The Essential Business Architecture

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Business Architecture (BA) is the most important layer or component of an Enterprise Architecture (EA). This is because it shapes all other layers. For instance,  Business functions and processes described in the BA dictate the type of technology and organization architecture that implement them. It is true though, that the availability of people and technology resources constrain business operation as well.

But what are the essential parts of an Enterprise? At the beginning of the '80es, Michael Porter suggested that any Enterprise consists of two categories of activities:

  • Primary activities, which are the operational processes that deliver the product such as  inbound logistics, Operations. Outbound logistics, sales and services
  • And Secondary activities that are all other supporting activities , as for example human resources, technology development, procurement etc.

Taking into account the dynamics of today's economy, I concluded though that Development activities are worth a category in themselves since a great chunk of them, such  as  strategy and business development, new products and capabilities development or R&D  ensure the competitive edge of the Enterprise and its continuity.

In a world that spins faster and faster, more and more activities are outsourceable and outsourced, even  Operations,  once a core  activity.   This is why, the only part that stays put  in the today Enterprise is the newly added Governance function, since it coordinates all activities, outsourced or not, and ultimately identifies the company.

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This is how the GODS Enterprise structure came into being. GODS stands for: Governance, Operations, Development and Support. Since primary  activities are often outsourced to specialised firms,  they become autonomous chain links  in what Porter called Value Systems or Networks.

I found that the Operations function can be further subdivided in three large Flows or Chains in the Operations Value System.: 

1.       Marketing & Planning

2.       Production & Delivery

3.       Selling & Servicing

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To Be Cnt'd

6 Comments

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Isn't this an another example where apples mixed with oranges? particularly, Enterprise Architecture with the Enterprise itself?

Enterprise Architecture "shapes all other layers", indeed but this does not mean that the architecture includes all of these other layers.

Business Architecture (BA) is about business functions. Everything else either influences the BA or BA becomes influenced by them. This relates to business processes that IMPLEMENT the BA, the type of technology and operational organisation.

Majority of enterprise operational activities (including those identified by Michael Porter) are influenced by BA while, for example, financial activities influence the BA.

Hi Mike,
In general, you are right EA is not the Enterprise.
In particular though, the architecture term is usually used to denote both structure (i.e. the Enterprise itself) and its description (i.e. EA).
As such there is not really mixing anything but there may be a need for further elaboration.

Business Architecture (BA) (not EA) shapes all other layers of EA that is, the technology and people architectures. This is particular evident in the design phase.

Operational business functions and processes, described by BA, are also realised by Enterprise technology and people organization and as such shape them (a system is chosen because it delivers the function), within limits.

A business architecture is not solely a structure, that is a list of functions, as often pictured today.
The BA structure is mostly the result of an intended and specific operation, described in Flows.

Business people and management are seldom interested in the functions (or capabilities) maps (i.e. BA structure) that sometimes come with an EA. They are keen to see how the Enterprise operates in order to improve the processes. This operation side, is mostly ignored by EA.

But there is yet another post to come on this matter.

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Unfortunately, I cannot agree in any point of yours about BA except it is not the Enterprise.

Probably, I will post my view on it. For now, let me comment starting with “Business people and management are seldom interested in the functions (or capabilities) maps (i.e. BA structure) that sometimes come with an EA. They are keen to see how the Enterprise operates in order to improve the processes. This operation side, is mostly ignored by EA.?
1. “Business people and management are seldom interested in the functions (or capabilities) maps (i.e. BA structure) that sometimes come with an EA? – is not 100% true because it depends what business people you talk with. If they are middle-level operational personnel, then they are certainly interests in HOW, in ordered sequence of actions or operational processes. However, if you talk with C-level and Senior Business Management, they do not care about actual processes but work with business capabilities exclusively. So, we have a set of Business Capabilities/Functions that are implemented by business operational processes. The latter may or may not need technical support from IT. Also, business capabilities constitute the subject of Business Architecture – WHAT/WHY/WHERE/WHEN/WHO/FOR WHOM the enterprise business does.
2. “They are keen to see how the Enterprise operates in order to improve the processes. This operation side, is mostly ignored by EA? – I can explain EA and BA ignorance to the operational activities and managerial structure by the fact neither of them are the part of Architecture (IEEE 1471). Architecture is a nice and popular word, but it is a strict structure at the same time.

“Business Architecture (BA) (not EA) shapes all other layers? of the Enterprise; it is affected by the financial structure of the company but affects, in turn, operational structure, people and all business processes that implement the BA. IT and its Technical architecture are driven by BA and represent technical part of BA implementation.

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“The BA structure is mostly the result of an intended and specific operation, described in Flows?

IMO, this is an up-side-down picture: all intensions, operations and flows in the enterprise caused by business functionality defined and directed by Business Strategic Plans.

Mike,
I get your point with 100% but, in my experience, business management looks at the organization chart not at a capability map designed by IT EA (that usually has little competence or even remit to do that). Value Chains and Process Frameworks, seldom used by EA, are also tools used by business.

The existing capability maps are mostly incomplete, too high level, vary greatly with individuals and companies.

It's not that I am against business functions maps as a concept, but that I believe that Business Architecture is illustrated as Flows over Functions would validate the BA capabilities and satisfy stakeholders of any kind.

In fact I am going to post next time an one page generic business architecture to illustrate this.

As the debate expands, I agree, it's better to post our opinions in main blogs.

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I think we are getting closer with "Business Architecture is illustrated as Flows over Functions" because usually business products are aggregations or combinations of simpler Functions. These aggregations are cross-functional flows, indeed. Nonetheless, these flows appear to its consumers (end-users or flows of higher levels) as solid functions again.

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Adrian Grigoriu blogs about everything relating to enterprise and business architecture, SOA, frameworks, design, planning, execution, organization and related issues.

Adrian Grigoriu

Adrian is an executive consultant in enterprise architecture, former head of enterprise architecture at Ofcom, the spectrum and broadcasting U.K. regulatory agency and chief architect at TM Forum, an organization providing a reference integrated business architecture framework, best practices and standards for the telecommunications and digital media industries. He also was a high technology, enterprise architecture and strategy senior manager at Accenture and Vodafone, and a principal consultant and lead architect at Qantas, Logica, Lucent Bell Labs and Nokia. He is the author of two books on enterprise architecture development available on Kindle and published articles with BPTrends, the Microsoft Architecture Journal and the EI magazine. Shortlisted by Computer Weekly for the IT Industry blogger of the year 2011.

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