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Business Architecture Definitions

What is the definition of business architecture? While there is a common thread, there is no consensus on what is business architecture. Here is a summary of various definitions of Business Architecture.

Business Architecture Overview:  If you are looking for more than definitions of business architecture, please peruse Capstera’s Business Architecture Overview.

Business Architect: If you are interested in learning about the role of a Business Architect, please read this article.

The industry experts, based on their experience, expertise and vantage point, have differences in what is the meaning and definition of the term business architecture.Intuitively, we all know what business architecture is, but in most cases, the devil is in the details, or perhaps the definition of what business architecture is and what it does.  As with any emerging discipline, business architecture proponents have come up with many interpretations.  While one needs to get bogged down by the subtle differences, having a foundational understanding of the meaning of business architecture helps in framing the realm, establishing the scope, and understanding the deliverables.

Today, business architecture is everywhere. So what is the definition and scope of business architecture? As a concept, there is quite a bit of misunderstanding about business architecture. Even the industry experts have differences in what is the meaning and definition of the term business architecture. Here is a summary view of various definitions for business architecture, proposed by various stakeholders.

Business Architecture Definitions: 

Object Management Group defines business architecture as follows: “Business Architecture is a blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization and is used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands. The blueprint deals with the structure of the enterprise regarding its governance structure, business processes, and business information. As such, the profession of business architecture primarily focuses on the motivational, operational, and analysis frameworks that link these aspects of the enterprise together.”

Gartner defines enterprise business architecture, which it firms say is an integral part of overall enterprise architecture, is as follows: “EBA is an integral part of a holistic enterprise architecture effort. EBA focuses on the process of evolving “how you run your business” (including people, processes, financials, and organizations) to evolve to and support a future state.”

Business dictionary focuses on the graphical nature of the discipline and terms of business architecture as:

Graphical representation of a business model, showing the networks through which authority, information, and workflows in a firm. It serves as the blueprint of a firm’s business structure and clarifies how the firm’s activities and policies will affect its defined objectives.

Wikipedia defines the term business architecture as:

Business architecture is a part of an enterprise architecture related to corporate business, and the documents and diagrams that describe the architectural structure of that business. People who build business architecture are known as business architects. Business architecture is the bridge between the enterprise business model and company strategy on one side, and the business functionality of the business on the other side.

Nick Malik, an enterprise architect at Microsoft and a well-respected practitioner of enterprise architecture seems frustrated with the many and often flawed definitions of business architecture. He tries to provide his perspectives on the description of business architecture as:

Business Architecture — A specialization of the Enterprise Architecture business function that uses science and engineering to design and implement business functional and process improvements and strategically-aligned change initiatives.

Ralph Whittle, an enterprise architect and the author of the book “Enterprise Business Architecture: The Formal Link between Strategy and Results” takes a shot at the definition of business architecture:

The Business Architecture defines the enterprise value streams and their relationships to all external entities, other enterprise value streams, and the events that trigger instantiation. It is a definition of what the enterprise must produce to satisfy its customers, compete in a market, deal with its suppliers, sustain operations, and care for its employees.

The industry analyst Derek Miers at research firm Forrester summarizes his view of the business architecture definition:

An organized and repeatable approach to describe and analyze an organization’s business and operating models to support a wide variety of organizational change purposes; from cost reduction and restructuring, to process change and transformation.

Michael Poulin, an enterprise architect, and a trainer postulates his definition of business architecture as follows:

Enterprise Business Architecture is the architecture that comprises business functionality and business informational models, positions it across business administrative and organizational enterprise structures, and that transforms goals and objectives defined in a business enterprise model and refined in the Strategic Business Plans into the functional and informational definition for corporate business.

So are you confused yet on what exactly business architecture means? While the business architecture definitions may come from the vantage point and the precise nature of the author’s background and expertise, it is very evident that business architecture is the horse that should lead the enterprise architecture cart. As business architecture evolves into a commonly accepted and well-understood discipline, the definitions will converge in letter and spirit, word and deed, and theory and practice.

Which of the business architecture definitions do you use? 

Related Insights: 

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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