A Value Based Approach to Business Architecture

State of the Practice

​As Business Architecture emerges as an Agile business practice, practitioners are still struggling to demonstrate how valuable their unique perspectives and modeling efforts are inside their organizations. Many practitioners address this by spending their initial efforts crafting titles, defining governance, and creating highly detailed capability models. While organization and charters are vital to success, they are irrelevant if there is no team to govern or customer willing to listen to your business research insights. An obsession with detailed capability models or enforcing documentation standards without taking the time to understand culture and adoption, will end up being counter productive. This approach often frustrates our customers, slows the overall adoption of the practice, and alienates us individually from the business.

Business Analysis Paralysis

The Enterprise Architecture community has also struggled with this dilemma given the time it takes to map enterprise applications to current project initiatives in a meaningful way. If we liken our business organizations to the human body and our modeling efforts to a detailed CAT scan, by the time a comprehensive picture is taken and analyzed, the body has changed dramatically and the patient has succumb to illness. Properly addressing business leaders immediate needs requires quick X-ray's that diagnose the business, frameworks that triage issues , and a laser focus on rapidly providing critical insights for solutions instead of consuming time documenting the entire body of noncritical details.

Value Based Business Architecture

The value based approach involves identifying what business leaders need today, then creating value immediately by using unique perspectives, models, and simple tools to shed light on the current state of affairs. This approach has to begin with the practitioners understanding of Business Architecture. It is strategically positioned to provide business leaders with practical ways to align their organizations strategic intent, determine the best implementation approach, or measure results in the context of corporate strategy. Business Architecture accomplishes this by providing a framework for how an organization creates, delivers, captures, and value to its customers. Similar to the business, practitioners should start by understanding how they provide value to their customers, the business leaders.

The five major value stages involved are:

  1. Develop Strategy (Why)

  2. Determine Business Architecture (What)

  3. Operationalize Strategy (Where & When)

  4. Realize Strategy/Optimize Operations (How)

  5. Drive Initiatives & Measuring Progress

Conclusion - What Now?

The broad multi-disciplinary nature of Business Architecture often crosses Strategy, Business Process Management, Enterprise Architecture, Business Analysis, and the Project/Program Management disciplines. Pragmatic business architects would be well advised to choose one of the major value stages, then focus on using Business Architecture frameworks and individual skill sets to rapidly add value to their business leaders. After providing rest to business leaders by addressing what is keeping them up at night, the door will open wider on how you accomplished things and what you need to help them get more rest.

In the next post (Part 1 - Develop Strategy) we will explore practical ways Business Architects can help business leaders to determine where to play and how to win.

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