Friday, 30 January 2009

Where Business and IT collide

Lets start by asking where should Business Architecture sit within an organisation? Well, it depends. (See Chief Architect blog - "Should IT include a business architecture function?")

If we look at Business Architecture as a function that designs the business operating model and is focused on business transformation, then it will most likely operate as some sort of Strategy and Planning function within the business.

From an IT perspective, where Business Architecture sits depends on the maturity of the Enterprise Architecture function. With a mature EA function that includes Business Architecture, for IT to deliver effectively it will typically turn to the EA function to clarify the business operating model and formalise it as part of the Enterprise Architecture.

In a recent Forrester survey of business architecture activity in organisations globally, 63% of respondents said that Enterprise Architects are leading their business architecture initiatives and 17% of initiatives are led directly by the Business. You usually find that with a less mature EA function, or where no EA function exists, Business Architects are found in other IT units, where they are focused on project-level or business unit (BU) level business architecture. So, it is also the scope of the Business Architecture that determines where Business Architects can be found in the organisation, with a trend for moving towards an Enterprisewide Business Architecture (as shown in diagram below).

Now let's ask why do we need Business Architecture and why is it so important to organisations? There are a number of reasons, including business insight for improved business decisions, process improvement, and IT investments, and Business and IT alignment. But, from my perspective as an Enterprise Architect, I believe that Business Architecture can play a significant part in closing the communication gap between IT and the Business. Using the right set of Business Architecture tools and techniques, an Architect can work collaboratively with the Business to develop common views of how the business fundamentally works. This not only raises the level of understanding and improves the relationship between business and IT, but provides a sound platform for the design of effective solutions.

Traditionally, IT change has followed from the analysis and improvement of a business area, but with Business Architecture its possible to design and improve systems concurrently with the business analysis and design. Business Architecture allows you to first develop direction and options for both the business and IT, followed by concurrent design and implementation of business and IT changes based on common views.

Next time, we'll take a look at what type of views make up a Business Architecture, and what methods and modelling techniques exist to help you develop a Business Architecture.

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