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Business Architect

Business architect to a Strategic Business Architect

Business Architect is a title that conjures up various images, scenarios, and roles none of which seems to truly reflect the vision of the profession as well as ground-level realities.

Definition of a Business Architect: What does a business architect do and should do?

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, what is described 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 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.

Let’s dispel some of the myths of the role of a business architect:

  • A business architect is NOT an enterprise architect. However, because business architecture is deemed 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 a 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.

The Standard Job Description of a Business Architect:

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.

The Activities and Artifacts a Business Architect Develops:

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

Why are there issues with Role Clarity and Value Creation of a Business Architect?

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, business architecture is conceived of as 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.                                                     

How does a business architect evolve into 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 be with contributing to the organizational transformation and helping move the needle with contextualization, analysis, and actionable insights, not just boxes and arrows.

The profession of a business architect is at a crossroads, and it is in the hands of the practitioners to redefine it and catapult into a viable and valuable role in a corporation.


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