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A brief introduction to Business Architecture

This is a guest post by Florence Lowe (, connectIT consulting

There has been a lot of buzz about business architecture lately. But what is it exactly?

What is Business Architecture

Lets start with the definition of business architecture. Business Architecture is simply a disciplined way to represent a business – what it does, and how it does it — in short, its people, processes, data, and technologies, and the interactions of these elements. Very often it is referred to as a blue print for the business.

This simple definition masks the complexity of what that really means, and what it means to different people. On the face of it, it makes a lot of sense to capture this information, in a rigorous, standardized way. The difficulty is in how to execute a business architecture strategy, so that it does not become the end goal in and of itself, but instead helps drive cost and time efficiencies and process improvements within your company.

Elements of Business Architecture

So once we understand that Business Architecture is simply a way to lay out what your business does and how it does it, there comes the matter of choosing how to represent that. Even before we get to the choice of methodology or tool, there are a few concepts to take into account.

A business architecture should lay out the business capabilities for the group, division or enterprise, which should be built around the strategic goals of the business. For instance, if your company is a manufacturing company, a core business capability need not be “Build Great Software” – no, while great software may make your business efficient, and you might even have internal teams that execute very well on that capability, your core capabilities probably revolve around your core business and your core strengths. For the manufacturing company a core business capability may be “Manage Supply Chain”.

From these capabilities you should be able to peel back the layers or drill down to the business process level to capture how your organization achieves that business capability. This brings us down from the strategic level to the nuts and bolts of how your business is executing on the business. In mapping out your business process you will want to capture the different people or roles that help execute that process, the data that is used, or produced during the process, the technical or other toolsthat are used by the process, business rules that drive the process, and business metrics that measure progress or success during or of the process.

For a strategic corporate capability there may be thousands of processes that help the company offer or execute on that capability. For a department, the number may be smaller. Business Architecture can provide much needed transparency to business leaders and staff. This transparency can lead to finding and implementing cost and time efficiencies, increased agility in decision making, and increased innovation through alignment of the business to IT.

In my next post I will talk more about methodologies and tools in the marketplace.

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