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Enterprise Architecture Matters

Adrian Grigoriu

What architects can do with a single page Business Architecture

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The question was raised in a LinkedIn discussion. Do Enterprise stakeholders need a simple business architecture like the one proposed in previous posts?

True, most Enterprise Architects are not asked to do Business Architecture. A reason is that, it is not the business of IT to describe how the enterprise operates or to describe the business flows. Most of us are called Enterprise Architects without ever producing in fact a BA or an EA for that matter. As Forrester found in a 2009 survey, EA architects do mostly IT solution architecture, reviews and strategy. Some do loose capability maps that prove sufficient for the limited purpose of IT.

For the new emerging breed of business architects this is a different matter though since they are tasked to produce the overall picture of the Enterprise and its operation in terms of flows and functions.

We already have many views of an Enterprise. Every team has a diagram in a drawer showing how the Enterprise part of concern operates. The Views do not re-use though components and interconnections though, they overlap... have various naming conventions, diagramming types, are produced with different tools and stored all over the place.

The problem a proposed single page generic business architecture is trying to solve is the fusing of these Views into a single consistent integrated Enterprise architecture by linking and building the Views from the same the top level business architecture picture. Without a simple BA showing the key Enterprise reference functions and flows, stakeholders and architects would keep reinventing them only to add to a disjoint stack of views.

What is the single page GODS generic business architecture good for? Your practical business architecture would be a customisation of it, representing your own Enterprise. Any Enterprise stakeholder needs a picture to understand how the Enterprise operates. As such, business people and IT would talk on and build from the this same single page BA picture. It would relieve the tension between the business and IT, having now same terms of reference.

Various segments in business and IT can link their Views to this top architecture: BPM and xSigma people would expand business Flows to work on improvement and automation, organization improvement groups to align organization, business development people to configure new business models, executive management to pinpoint issues...IT to discover, map, document and roadmap every IT system in the Enterprise now, by looking at parts of the Enterprise they never considered before, for instance the system used for campaign management.

IT systems and technology can be mapped to the business flows they execute and as such their performance evaluated by business. Systems serving Service Provisioning, Content Management, User Identification... could be linked and aligned to the corresponding business functions needs, goals and strategy. A system can be analysed now in the context of the business functions and flows it serves. 

A solution architecture project to replace or add a system would benefit from the BA description of functions and flows it has to implement.

Many see EA/BA in terms of strategy, future states and change. But how can one do roadmapping without knowing the systems described by a current architecture? That aside, strategy is one of the many other use cases. EA/BA can be used for comprehension, simplification, agility enhancement, technology alignment...

Ultimately, companies like IBM (Component Business Model) and Microsoft (Motion) have their own business frameworks (for consultancy assignments or to help sell their own systems) which are similar in nature and purpose to this. This generic business architecture expands these frameworks by adding to business capabilities, end to end business flows that complete the Enterprise picture and engage in the EA effort all Enterprise stakeholders form the business side.

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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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