Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Will The Real Business Architect please stand up?

During a presentation on Business Architecture at Forrester's Enterprise Architecture Forum in London last week, someone asked the question - 'just who are these Business Architects anyway?' A couple of people in the audience dared to raise their hands and claimed to be this new breed of professional, but where did they come from and are they really doing Business Architecture?

I believe that there are at least 3 breeds who now claim to be Business Architects.

  1. The Enterprise Business Architect
  2. The Domain Business Architect
  3. The Project Business Architect a.k.a the Business Analyst

So, let's make it clear - Business Architecture is not something you do at the Project level. Forrester agrees that Business Architects are not Business Analysts. In 'The Up-And-Coming Business Architect' by Jeff Scott and Katie Smillie, they say:

"Forrester believes that these roles are quite distinct, with business architects designing and analyzing the "what" of the business at a higher, more strategic, and often enterprisewide level, while business analysts typically contribute to the "how" of business operations, processes, and projects."

Also, if we look at how the Business Architecture Community defines Business Architecture, as:

"A disciplined approach to creating and maintaining a set of business-owned information assets that serve as a blueprint for the planning and execution of strategy.

  • First and foremost, Business Architecture is developed by the business for the business.
  • Business Architecture provides a common, enterprise-level business language and framework for documenting how the business is structured."

It is clear from this definition that Business Architecture is about the planning and execution of strategy, which is usually done at the Enterprise and Domain or Line-Of-Business levels, and not at the Project level.

So, lets now look at this in more detail and try to understand what artefacts you may find in a Business Architecture at the different levels. In the following framework I've listed artefacts from an Architectural perspective, i.e. Contextual provides the 'Why?', Conceptual states the 'What?', Logical says 'How?', and Physical says 'With What?'

At the Enterprise level, given the Business Goals, the Business Architect is focused on strategic business modelling and planning for the whole business. At the Domain level, given the Enterprise Business Strategy, the Business Architect develops strategy, business models and roadmaps for the specific domain or line-of-business. Where the Domain is IT, the focus is therefore on the IT Strategy and execution through the Application portfolio. This brings us to the Project level, where the Business Architecture defined at the Enterprise and Domain levels, together with the Technical Architecture, provides the Enterprise Architecture context for the project. In reality, the context for Projects can be far more complex and can include many other sources, and the artefacts shown are not a comprehensive set for projects. But, this is not a blog about project analysis and design, our focus is Business Architecture, so in future posts we'll be looking at the artefacts shown at the Enterprise and Domain levels in much more detail.