Get a Free Deliverable

Business Architecture

business architecture

Capstera’s comprehensive business architecture overview: We all know business architecture is vital for any enterprise, particularly the large and complex companies. Intuitively, Business Architecture makes sense.

However, many a time, there are divergent viewpoints and questions abound:

“What constitutes business architecture?”

“How does one justify business architecture and build a business case?”

“What components does business architecture include?”

“What business architecture methodology, if any, to follow?”

“How to showcase the value of business architecture in an accelerated manner, without boiling the ocean, and taking a decade?”

Let’s take a simple life cycle view of business architecture and go on a short journey thru the phases of business architecture.

Business Architecture Overview:


There are several definitions of Business Architecture. But for now, let’s go with what OMG’s definition of business architecture. 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.”


You may also be interested in: 

Business Architecture Sample

Business Architecture Methodology

Business Capability Map Sample

Business Capability Model Samples


Realizing the Need for Business Architecture:

Why business architecture?

There may be strategic imperatives on why you need to do business architecture as well as tactical demands necessitating business architecture modeling. Irrespective of the strategic or tactical imperatives or drivers, it is important to frame them within the organizational context so that the powers-that-be can understand, appreciate, and support the business architecture endeavors.

The typical drivers of business architecture may include:

  • A lack of cohesive and holistic understanding of the complexities of an enterprise and the nuances
  • Missing link between strategic objectives and execution
  • Inability to respond quickly to shifting market dynamics and business demands
  • Inefficient operational processes
  • Spiraling cost curve
  • A wide-gap between business and IT teams
  • Misalignment of strategic priorities and IT budgets

If you only look closely, you can find many more drivers. Of course, these are generic business drivers and strategic imperatives showcasing the need for business architecture. However, you can make them clear and present for your organization by adding context and metrics. “Last year, we spent $200 million on IT projects, and only 10% of this involved capability which is of highest strategic importance.” Now, that would be a home run.

Defining a Business Architecture Value Proposition:

Now that you know what some key drivers and strategic imperatives that are driving the need to adopt business architecture are, now it is time to establish the value proposition of why business architecture is required, and time is now, to the powers-that-be. Building a compelling value proposition is essential to secure the buy-in of senior business and technology leaders. Here are a few tips and ideas on how to create and communicate a value proposition for business architecture.

Making a Business Case for Business Architecture and Selling it to the C-Suite:

Business Architecture

It is one thing to know that something is valuable intuitively, but making a qualitative and quantitative business case for business architecture takes some thinking and time. Having a list of strategic imperative and business/technology drivers for business architecture is a starting point. Then, it is time to build a list of outcomes you are targeting from business architecture and how it will benefit the enterprise – in the short-term, medium-term and longer-term – in both qualitative and quantitative terms. It is important not to overreach or overestimate the benefit stream. Perhaps, the most compelling business case is centered around the cost of not doing it. As John Zachman famously stated, “You Can’t Cost Justify Architecture.”

Then, it is time to build a list of outcomes you are targeting from business architecture and how it will benefit the enterprise – in the short-term, medium-term and longer-term – in both qualitative and quantitative terms.

Selling it to the senior executives is both an art and science. Making a compelling business case and cogent argument about the value of business architecture is not just about the length of the list, the relevancy of issues, and considerations that necessitate the discipline of business architecture, but more importantly how you tell the story in stark and vivid terms. Of course, it is not just gloom and doom, but a substantive focus on the positives will help frame the picture better.

Alex Cullen of Forrester has some ideas on how to sell business architecture to a CEO. Ralph Whittle has some thoughts about making a business case for business architecture.

Business Architecture Framework Matters:

The issues of a framework are at time contentious. Some purists adhere strictly to a framework. And pragmatists do not care about allegiance to a particular structure, and instead, try to gather the best-of-breed and build a business architecture. There is a veritable alphabet soup of enterprise architecture and business architecture frameworks. (Some of the enterprise architecture frameworks explicitly acknowledge business architecture, and some don’t.) Zachman, Togaf, PEAF, DODAF, MODAF, Gartner and Forrester are some of the enterprise architecture frameworks that one may want to consider. As for a more practical, purpose-driven model (do we dare call it a framework?), we prefer the Capstera’ s business architecture model. (We are, of course, Capstera and hence we are biased.)

Also, check out OMG, Business Architecture Guild, BACOE, and Forrester, among others, for their take on the business architecture frameworks.

Components of Business Architecture:

You’ve come a long way! Now that you made a business case and secured the buy-in and obtained the necessary funding, you are off to craft your business architecture. Wait a moment and think about what are the components you want to include in your business architecture? Depending on who you ask, the range of element, entities, and components involved in business architecture varies significantly. The important thing is to identify the classic MVP (Minimum Viable Product or in this case Project) and progress incrementally. Here is a list of business architecture components the Capstera team deems valuable. What elements you select initially should be primarily driven by the organizational context, and the time to value. Don’t forget – it is futile to boil the ocean.

Business Capability Map or Business Capability Model:

Business Architecture: Sample Business Capability Model decomposition

 First, the definition of what is a capability and what is a capability map. Let’s stipulate that a business capability defines “What” a business at its functional level does. And a business capability map is a holistic set of capabilities that constitute what an enterprise does. If we agree to this, then it will be clear that a business capability map or model is not a process map, and it is not a value stream map. Both value streams and process maps are significant and are an integral part of the business architecture, but they are not a business capability (or a business capability model.) For those of you how are curious, here is a list of definitions of a business capability map.

Building a business capability model is a non-trivial task. However, it is not necessary to spend countless hours and several quarters defining a business capability map. To build a business capability model, there are several alternatives:

  • Buy a sample business capability model (or a straw capability model) for a function or industry. For example, Store offers some capability models. Of course, there may be several others if you search for them based on your needs.
  • Build a business capability map. Building a business capability map involves creating the structure, hierarchy and the actual capabilities that represent what the business does. A typical capability map starts from the high-level value chain and then is decomposed to lower levels of granularity. Here is a detailed overview of how to build an enterprise business capability map or model.

Also, check out the Capability Mapping Software features and functionality of Capstera.

Business Architecture Value Streams: 

Value Stream Example

Business architecture value streams are different than the typical LEAN Value Stream mapping where the primary focus of the latter is to identify structural bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and costs of each step in a process. In contrast, a business architecture value stream is an end-to-end lifecycle with the significant strides from a stakeholders’ perspective in accomplishing an activity or a process. If business capabilities represent the “What,” the combination of business architecture value streams and processes represent the “How.” Here is Capstera’s take on Value Streams and you can use Capstera software to create value streams. To learn more about enterprise value streams, browse Ralph Whittle (who wrote a book) thoughts about value streams.

Business Direction, Motivation, Strategy, and Direction:

Business Architecture Deliverable

Understanding business context and deciphering why business is doing what it is doing, and the implications of the strategy on operations and IT enablement is a critical business architecture deliverable. There are many ways one can capture and present the essence of business thinking, strategy, direction and motivation. There is Nick Malik’s elaborate EBMM (enterprise business motivation model). For those of you looking for more succinct and concise ways to capture the business direction and strategy, here are some ideas. Alexander Osterwalder’s business model canvas is an elegant way to achieve the business model and critical value drivers. Kaplan/Norton Strategy Map is another way to gain a multi-dimensional perspective. Angoss Strategy Trees may be another way. And don’t forget the McKinsey 7s Framework. Furthermore, check out Capstera’ s strategy encapsulation features.

Understanding business context and deciphering why business is doing what it is doing, and the implications of the strategy on operations and IT enablement is a crucial business architecture deliverable.

Irrespective of what framework or diagram you use, capturing the business “Why” is paramount and is the beginning step of linking execution to strategy. This is the fountainhead step in any worthy business architecture endeavor.

Views and Viewpoints:

The real value of business architecture comes not from siloed individual components, but from mapping the relationships and juxtaposing related concepts to generate multidimensional and nuanced views, viewpoints. Many types of artifacts, outcomes, and views can be created as a part of the business architecture and capability modeling.

  • Capabilities Assessments
  • Value Stream Assessments
  • Capability to Service/Application Mapping
  • Capability-to-Strategy Mapping
  • Value Stream to Process Model Mapping

Of course, there are several views one can generate. Many of these views and viewpoints are represented as heat maps. Please refer to some ideas of what types of heat maps to create and use as a part of your business architecture efforts. Also, please check out the lenses functionality of Capstera business architecture software tool.

Business Architecture Training:

As Business Architecture is an evolving discipline, there is a great need to train not only the business architects but other stakeholders in the art, science, and practice of business architecture and capability modeling. Business Architecture training should be tailored and purpose-fit for each stakeholder. The preparation of a business architect versus business architecture training for a business analyst must be adapted to the needs of each practitioner. Also, training for senior business and technology leaders who have decision making authority over business architecture and impacted by business architecture also must be subject to training, albeit at a higher-level focusing on value and impact, and not necessarily the detailed mechanics. Learn more about Capstera’s business architecture training.


Business Architecture Training

It is not enough to develop artifacts, but a good business architecture endeavor will need to affect business outcomes. For this to happen, it is essential to establish a simple and lightweight governance structure, metrics to measure the progress or lack thereof, and a way to foster and propagate the business architecture discipline into other critical processes of the organization.

It is essential to establish a simple and lightweight governance structure, metrics to measure the progress or lack thereof, and a way to foster and propagate the business architecture discipline into other critical processes of the organization.

  • Capability-based Funding: Capability-based funding will help an enterprise move away from a project-centric view to a capability-driven paradigm.
  • Metrics and Measurement: Identity what constitutes success and measure regularly and consistently. If you can’t show progress, that too rather expeditiously, the value perception among the senior executives will diminish by a great deal. It’s almost like the time it takes to create and showcase results from business architecture is inversely proportional to the value perception among the C-Suite.
  • Requirements aligned to Capabilities: Generating capability-centric elements will help a firm develop a new paradigm for IT enablement. Today, projects have become the primary venue for gathering requirements. Many a time, this wastes a lot of time and creates churn in the system and leads to project failures. Furthermore, many needs are in the weeds or pie-in-the-sky and result in severe ambiguity and rework. Drafting requirements to evolve and enhance capabilities will help companies a great deal. This will make projects a way to execute capability-based roadmaps, not a place to define stuff.
  • Beyond boxes and arrows: Business architecture should not live in an ivory tower. It is essential to link execution and strategy thru business architecture and capability modeling. Furthermore, if business architecture becomes a part of the standardized processes for strategy, operations, product/platform definition, and IT enablement, the value of business architecture will increase exponentially.

What about Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise architecture is the overarching discipline of which business architecture is an essential and integral part. If you wish to focus on enterprise architecture, which is broader in scope and impact, there are several methodologies, approaches, frameworks, and tools. The subject of enterprise architecture is vast and is beyond the scope of this detailed overview of the business architecture. However, you may peruse the high-level overview and tools that will help you in implementing enterprise architecture; please check out this post about enterprise architecture overview and tools.

This is just a business architecture overview, and if you need to master the art and become a successful practitioner, you will need to dig deeper.

How can Capstera help you in your business architecture journey?

Capstera business architecture software can help you in creating, managing and harnessing business architectures.

Capstera can provide Business Architecture and Capability Modeling consulting services to help you jumpstart the process and accelerate time to value.

Capstera can deliver light-weight and straightforward business architecture training programs.

Please also consider some of the following products from Capstera. 

Sign up for Newsletter