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Business Architect: An overview of the business architecture professional

Business architect to a Strategic Business Architect

In this digital and cognitive age, where companies are trying to transform to the new realities and constantly evolving paradigm, the role of a business architect has become a critical underpinning to align business and technology at a foundational level.  It’s time for business architects to rise and shine in a strategic role and contribute to the enterprise transformation as a catalyst. 

Who is a Business Architect? Defining the role of a business architect

A Business Architect interprets and contextualizes strategy for operational needs, develops specific artifacts such as business capability maps and value streams to help bridge the gap between strategy and execution, and helps streamline and rationalize the IT enablement process. In addition to developing specific deliverables, views, and viewpoints, a business architect synthesizes and synergies the work of others drawing from disciplines such as strategy development, business analysis, process management, operations, and systems analysis.

Of course, the description above is an ideal state and seemingly utopian vision of the role of a business architect.  However, in reality, in many large companies, the role of a business architect has devolved into an appendage of IT and has run into ambiguity about the specific nature, deliverables, and intended outcomes from the position.  The uncertainty has to do with a lot of factors and none of which alone can resolve the status quo.

Business Architect: Dispelling the myths and misperceptions

  • A business architect is NOT an enterprise architect. However, because business architecture is an integral part of enterprise architecture, there are many commonalities and overlaps – at least as far as the business domain definition and strategy interpretation.
  • A business architect is NOT a solution architect. The deliverables from business architecture, including the business solution conceptual vision, is an essential input for the solution architecture teams.
  • A business architect is NOT a business analyst. While tenets of business analysis are an essential part of “business analysis,” the business architect is not the same as a business analyst. Of course, a person named a “Business Analyst” can do some work that pertains to the business architecture and we are talking about the disciplines, which are different, even if some of the tools, techniques, methodologies, and outputs may borrow from each other.
  • A business architect is NOT a product manager. A business product manager owns the product vision, direction, and roadmap. A product manager may consume the deliverables of business architecture, particularly business capabilities and capability-based roadmaps and similarly, a business architect may leverage a lot of the product managers’ work to understand the business, its markets, products and services, customers, and overall business context.
  • A business architect is not a project manager. Of course, a business architect may manage a business architecture project or contribute to an overall plan, but he/she is not a project manager.

A Business Architect interprets and contextualizes strategy for operational needs, develops specific artifacts such as business capability maps and value streams to help bridge the gap between strategy and execution, and helps streamline and rationalize the IT enablement process. In addition to developing specific deliverables, views, and viewpoints, a business architect synthesizes and synergies the work of others drawing from disciplines such as strategy development, business analysis, process management, operations, and systems analysis.

What does a business architect do?

While a detailed inventory of all business architecture components and all the business architecture deliverables is out of the scope of this article, the following are some of the key deliverables which business architects develop or collaborate or contribute to the following:

Business Architect - Key Steps and Milestones

  • Strategy Summary
  • Operating and business model analysis
  • Business ecosystem
  • Enterprise Business Capability Maps
  • Value Streams
  • Business Entities
  • Organization Mapping
  • Systems/Application Mapping
  • Capability-based Roadmaps
  • Function/System Footprint Analysis

Business Architecture is Collaborative:

Business Architect - Collaborative WorkBusiness Architects strive to make business architecture the glue that binds various aspects of an enterprise strategy, design, modeling, and solutions ecosystem.   As today’s business and IT landscapes in large firms are complex, the business architect collaborates with various other specialists to achieve the enterprise objectives.  For example, the business architect may own the enterprise business capabilities model but has to work in conjunction with other professionals to help complete various components of the overall business architecture. 

Value Streams and Business Flows are an essential ingredient of overall business architecture, and the business architect collaborates with the process architects/process owners. 

A business information model or a common data model is an essential overlay (Capabilities to Data Mapping), and joint efforts with data architects and modelers are necessary.

Enterprise Architects are responsible for the overall enterprise modeling, and big-picture thinking – encompassing business architecture, information architecture, application architecture, infrastructure architecture – and hence business architects work hand-in-glove. 

Solution architects and application architects are responsible for products, platforms, services, and applications. These technology apps power and realize the capabilities and value streams. So, a partnership with these roles is integral to the success of a business architect. (A Capability to Systems/Services/Application mapping is a critical deliverable that analyzes the footprint of what applications power which capabilities and to what extent.)

Systems analysts and business analysts are another groups of core collaborators and consumers of the business architecture deliverables. 

Who makes a great Business Architect?

Business architects come from diverse backgrounds.  Historically, technologists made a transition to the role of business architects. However, given the nature of business architecture as an interdisciplinary and multi-functional practice, the following backgrounds and experience will business architects in good stead. 

Business strategists and business consultants with big picture thinking can be excellent business architects.  Product management is another area that can produce brilliant business architects. Business analysis or systems analysis is another area that provides good grounding.  And of course, technical or solution architects with a business mindset also may find the transition easier to becoming a business architect. 

Questions about the value-add of Business Architects:

Some of the role clarity issues go all the way back into the genesis of the practice, the type of practitioners and their past background, and lack of awareness and ambiguity among business and technology leaders.

For example, many think business architecture is a subset of enterprise architecture.  Many early practitioners have had deep roots in IT architecture, and hence their influence made the profession deem overtly and covertly IT-centric.  So, any backlash against enterprise architecture also has afflicted business architecture.

To add to this, the emphasis of the business architects on artifacts, rather than outcomes, and a general feeling that many are ivory tower deliverables have exacerbated the issue.  A model may look pretty but who cares if it does not identify a problem or an opportunity.  A view may be worthy, but not as valuable as a viewpoint.               

Business Architect Job Responsibilities:

Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, here is an excellent description or responsibilities proposed by Geoffrey Balmes in an article on the BAInstite.Org website.

Responsibilities of a Business Architecture Practitioner:

  • Develop a business architecture strategy based on a situational awareness of various business scenarios and motivations.
  • Apply a structured business architecture approach and methodology for capturing the critical views of the enterprise.
  • Capture the tactical and strategic enterprise goals that provide traceability through the organization and are mapped to metrics that provide ongoing governance.
  • Describe the primary business functions of the enterprise and distinguish between customer-facing, supplier-related, business execution and business management functions.
  • Define the set of strategic, core and support processes that transcend functional and organizational boundaries; identify and describe external entities such as customers, suppliers, and external systems that interact with the business; and describe which people, resources, and controls are involved in the processes.
  • Define the data shared across the enterprise and the relationships between those data.
  • Capture the relationships among roles, capabilities and business units, the decomposition of those business units into subunits, and the internal or external management of those groups.

Sample Business Architect Job Descriptions from the Corporate World:

Nike, the shoe and apparel giant, describes the role of business as follows: 

Nike: Principal Business Architect Responsibilities

Key Responsibilities
  • Drives and facilitates the right discussions with business leaders to identify business capabilities in relation to current and future business objectives
  • Create and maintain business capability, data, process and technology inventories. Work with multiple capability and functional teams to gather and document the structure of Nike’s business and technology landscape.
  • Lead, build, manage, enhance business capability model along maturity / optimization framework to drive enablement of the longer-term roadmap
  • Partner in the strategic planning process by providing input to the scope definition of strategic initiatives leveraging capabilities, creating capability Heatmaps to provide visibility to impacts, dependencies, overlaps and opportunities. Key Deliverables include (but not limited to): Capability Model, Capability Heatmaps, Capability Maturity Assessments, Capability Impact Assessments, Capability Health Assessments & Capability Roadmaps
  • Works closely with Domain architects and leaders to develop domain roadmaps
  • Works closely with solution/technical architects to deliver business architecture artifacts needed for End to End Architecture & Solution Architecture Approach deliverables
  • Presents recommendations and solutions clearly and concisely and is able to focus on key points to portray the intended message or purpose
  • Advocate and drive adoption of “best practices” to ensure standardization of business architecture outputs across the enterprise
  • Takes an active role in enterprise portfolio investment strategies by assessing and rationalizing proposed enterprise capabilities
  • Business thinking and highly strategic in order to define practical solutions that align with corporate strategy
  • Effectively manage priorities, deliverables and timelines with little need for escalation

TD Bank – Senior Business Architect Responsibilities:

  • Accountable for a specific LOB, business pillar or multiple segments, and high level of complexity and attributes
  • Recognized as top level expert with significant in-depth and/or breadth of expertise in their in a complex field and knowledge of broader related areas
  • Senior specialist providing advisory services to executives, business leaders and governs the requirements for own work
  • Integrates knowledge of the enterprise function’s or business segment’s overarching strategy in leading programs and projects within one or more areas of expertise
  • Anticipates emerging business trends and regulatory/risk issues as a basis for recommending large-scale product, technical, functional or operations improvements
  • Advises on execution strategy and leads the development and deployment of functional programs or initiatives within their own field or across multiple specialties
  • Solves unique and ambiguous problems with broad impact; typically oversees standards, controls and operating methods that have significant financial and operational impact within the context of their own field
  • Uses innovative thinking to develop new solutions
  • Impacts the technical or functional direction and resource allocation of part of an enterprise function or business segment
  • Engages stakeholders to take action; Serves as a source of expert advice, influences change; frames information in a broader organizational context
  • Provides leadership guidance, makes recommendations and collaborates with business to ensure solutions meets the business needs on a complex project or program
  • Identifies and leads problem resolution for project/program complex requirements related issues at all levels

How much does a Business Architect Earn?  Salary Ranges for Business Architects

Great Business architects or what we at Capstera call “Strategic Business Architects” are worth their weight in gold.  However, it seems like companies job descriptions for business architects, the reporting structure, the requirements, and expectations are all over the place, as is the competence, caliber, and qualifications of business architects. Hence, what a business architect can earn is a function of the contributions he/she makes and how the company positions the role. 

In 2018, as depicted in the diagram below, it seems the average salary for a business architect is $135,000, and a senior business architect is $155,000.  The range of what a business architect earns is between $101,000 and $169,000, and for a senior business architect, the salary range is $119,000 – $195,000.                   

Business Architect Salary - 2018

Becoming a Strategic Business Architect:

Capstera business architects and consultants have identified some areas and competencies which contribute to the evolution of a garden variety business architect to a strategic business architect.

Business architect to a Strategic Business Architect

Primarily, this has to do with contributing to the organizational transformation and helping move the needle. 

Here are a few other things you can learn about the business architect on Capstera website:

What does a business architect do? Business Architect Role Definition 

What is the career path of a business architect? Business Architect Career Path

What are some certifications available for a business architect? Business Architecture Certifications

Training for business architects: Business Architecture Training Program

The job of a business architecture leader: Business Architecture Leader

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