Business-Oriented Enterprise Architecture

by Raymond Bordogna

In 1987, an IBM business systems planning consultant published a seminal paper: A Framework for Information Systems Architecture. Although the article’s focus was on how best to model information systems, the resultant framework was later extended to model an entire business. This extension led to a discipline coined Enterprise Architecture (EA).

EA prescribes a set of viewpoints in which to define, communicate and align the strategic intent and tactical operations of a business. These viewpoints are commonly categorized into subject areas. The Open Group, a global consortium of 400 member organizations and a leading proponent of EA defines the following 4 principal domains:

  1. The Business Architecture defines the business strategy, governance, organization, and key business processes.
  2. The Data Architecture describes the structure of an organization’s logical and physical data assets and data management resources.
  3. The Application Architecture provides a blueprint for the individual applications to be deployed, their interactions, and their relationships to the core business processes of the organization.
  4. The Technology Architecture describes the logical software and hardware capabilities that are required to support the deployment of business, data, and application services.

Despite its inherent logic, I think it’s fair to say that EA has more than struggled to gain business acceptance. And, I believe the primary constraint to be a combination of 2 factors:

  1. A dearth and immaturity of business architecture viewpoints in EA programs
  2. A lack of integration between business architecture and other domain architects – i.e., cross-domain architectural viewpoints.

Business-Oriented Architecture: weaving the “business” into architecture:

In our experience, research and observation, most Enterprise Architecture programs’ business architecture work streams simply create business process models. While certainly necessary, an organization needs to leverage additional business architect viewpoints* into their practice including:

1. Business Model Canvas

  • The Business Model Canvas facilitates the following tasks: describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot your business model.

2. Business Strategy Canvas

  • A strategy canvas presents key competitive factors.

3. Business Strategy Map

  • A strategy map is a diagram that is used to document the primary strategic goals being pursued by an organization.

4. Business Process Taxonomy [Level 0, 1]

  • A classification of key business processes (aka tasks, activities). Level 0 are high level processes (e.g., Claims); Level 1 Processes are more granular (e.g., FNOL).

5. The Balanced Scorecard

  • BSC is a strategic performance management tool – a semi-standard structured report that can be used by managers to keep track of the execution of activities by the staff within their control and to monitor the consequences.

6. Organization (Chart) Model [People]

  • An organizational chart is a diagram that shows the structure of an organization as well as the relationships and relative ranks of its positions.

7. Skills Inventory [People]

  • A skills inventory is a compilation of the skills, education and experiences per role. Organizations use these inventories to assess their ability to meet certain company goals.

8. Business Social Media (Collaboration) Strategy [People]

  • A document describing: social media business-oriented trends in the industry, current social media-technology oriented trends, social media platforms, organization’s need for digital collaboration and plan for infusing social media platform(s) technology, process and governance into the organization.

9. Business Financial Statements

  • For a business enterprise, all the relevant financial information presented in a structured manner and in a form easy to understand, are called the financial statements. They typically include three basic financial statements (B/S, C/F, P/L).

10. Business Performance Metrics

  • A listing of an organization’s key performance management metrics (e.g., loss ratio for an insurance firm).

LiquidHub employs the term, Business-Oriented Architecture to better signal the importance and necessity of incorporating these business focused viewpoints into Enterprise Architecture programs. The advantage of specifying these artifacts is that most “business” professionals are familiar with them. The indispensable skill that remains then is to how best cross reference these viewpoints with the other 3 principal domains which “IT” professional are most familiar with – i.e., data, architecture and technology architectures.

* Based upon viewpoints gathered from LiquidHub experience, HBR article by Kim and Mauborgne, The Balanced Scorecard, Business Model Generation and client input.

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