Business Architect, Process Architect, Enterprise Technology Architect

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Managing Principle, Wendan Consulting
Dan Morris is a partner at Wendan, Inc. and MCT. He has written 5 books on business transformation, over 70 articles and papers for PEX, TechTarget, BPMI and others, spoken internationally at over 45 conferences and hosted/delivered over 30 Webinars for PEX and other groups. Dan has also served as the North American Practice Director for Business Transformation at Infosys, Capco, TCS and ZS Associates, and as an Executive Consultant with IBM Global Services. He currently serves on the PEX Advisory board and has served on the Forrester BPM Council, and the boards of ABPMP, and the Business Architecture Association. Dan was recently named as an ABPMP Fellow for his work in advancing the BPM discipline.

What is going on?

The business transformation industry is growing and starting to stratify. Many corporate managers have now recognized the enormity of what must be dealt with and are starting to look at grouping practitioners by specialized skills and capabilities.

This grouping has now formed Business Architects, Process Architects, and Enterprise Technology Architects – each representing specialized skills in this stratification. This reflects a growing recognition that business strategy implementation requires a direct connection to a comprehensive view of the business operation, the organization, and IT. It is clear that strategic project prioritization must be mingled with operational improvement and quality improvement project prioritization in today’s business.

Clearly, because of the breadth of required knowledge and skills, these are executive level roles and although fairly new in the market, each of these specialized architect positions is supported by people who are building the skills and knowledge to let them progress into these positions.

But, why are these roles needed and what do they do?

The answer is in scope and the amount of different skills, experiences, and understanding needed to plan, direct, and control today’s evolving businesses. The driving force is a need to create an ability to change quickly – to make this ability a core competency in the organization. Creating this ability to change quickly and effectively is critical. To compete, organizations must be flexible and able to quickly implement strategy and improvement across the company. I believe that any company that does not create this change based culture will not survive – no matter how big they are or how successful they have been in the past.

In creating and driving this change competency, companies must now look to a specializing of executive level skills and knowledge and a collaborative sharing of responsibilities among these emerging roles. This is especially true when company strategy implementation or change is needed. However, to support the level of collaboration and project coordination needed at all levels, a new supporting environment is also needed.

BPM Provides a Broad Foundation

Historically, information availability and separate sources of data have helped isolate the individual practitioners and architects. This has been a significant factor in limiting collaboration and preventing a comprehensive view of the business. This is now being changed by Business Process Management (BPM) which now offers a way to tie information (process, rules, systems, data, etc.) together to provide a type of business change planning environment.

BPM is touted by many as a discipline. For others it is a set of tools and process maps. For still others it is a technology approach. In reality it is all three. But, when these are brought together it is more than that. It is a foundational operating environment that changes the fundamental way business and IT work together. In this new operating environment, Business Architects can work with Process Architects and Enterprise Technology Architects to gain a comprehensive broad view of the business operation.

This view is important in translating business strategy into operational vision, initiatives, and project groups. The BPM environment provides the enterprise process information repositories and modeling support that allows architects to define strategy impact and identify initiatives and projects needed in the redesign of the business operating environment. Once defined, this environment can be used to help coordinate change and then deliver significant business modification or improvement very quickly. This supports business evolution and delivers the environment that lets architects tie strategy to the business, it’s operation, it’s processes, and it’s business rules. This also allows approaches like Process Reengineering, Lean, and Six Sigma to help move the operation to a state of optimization and then sustain it.

By supporting the creation of this environment BPM helps enable the operational implementation of strategy. Historically, strategy implementation has relied on department managers to individually define their role in implementing corporate strategy. This translation of strategy into action has largely been a process where initiatives and projects have not been well coordinated between the various groups and departments. This has created a gap between strategy, initiatives, projects, and the orchestration of the department’s work to deliver goals. Part of the problem has been the lack of operational visibility, process understanding, and a clear view of how it is all supported by automation. In the past, this has all been high level work that relied on managers to “figure out”.

Given that the needed information can be available in a corporate BPM repository, Business Architects can now work closely with Process Architects and Enterprise Technology Architects to translate strategy into initiatives and projects and then execute them in a coordinated manner.

These roles are defined below. In actual practice the roles will generally follow these descriptions, but variations are common.

Business Architect: Linking Strategy to Execution

To fill this gap and plan and coordinate the way strategy will be supported, we now have a fairly new role – the Business Architect. In fact, this role could not exist in the past because the environment that allows this person to have the needed information and visibility into the operation didn’t exist. Using a business architecture knowledge base or repository, the Business Architect now can be effective in translating strategy into initiatives, identifying who will need to be involved, and what their departments will need to do to deliver the initiatives. Adding in organizational understanding of culture and other people factors, the Business Architect can coordinate how these initiatives will build and how the projects will support one another to deliver the goals that drive the strategy.

The Business Architect or Business Architecture Center of Excellence is unique in that its visibility and influence span the entire company. This allows them to have an integrated view of the operation, organization, business capabilities, terminology, processes, and initiatives and projects. This includes coordinating with IT, data and application architecture, and related support groups. Using this information and a sound understanding of the business, the Business Architect can now work with managers to determine every group’s and every manager’s role in delivering the projects that join together to deliver strategic change.

In addition to coordinating the initiatives and tracking the projects needed to deliver new strategy, the Business Architects will be responsible for monitoring the internal and external factors that can impact the company’s strategy. This may include government regulations, new discoveries, changing business trends, and more.

Of course, the Business Architect will not need to become an expert in all these possible technologies, but he or she will need to be aware of them and their potential impact on strategy or initiatives. In doing this, the Business Architect Center of Excellence will be responsible for the creation and management of collaborative relationships with all senior and mid level managers in the company. They will also be responsible for building collaborative relationships with vendors, suppliers, and partners to look for new ways to improve the company’s ability to change quickly and to both improve market share and reduce cost.

Process Architect: Designing and Delivering Change

Business Architects thus deal at the “WHAT” level in companies. The “HOW” level is very different. The “how” level is supported through BPM and related approaches and by BPM tools. This role leverages concepts, like the Zachman Framework, to define needed information and disciplines like Lean and Six Sigma. To support the Business Architect a new type of business/IT change environment is needed. This environment is process based, but with organizational cross references. It is designed to provide an Enterprise View of the business and to deliver an ability to change rapidly. Designing, building, and evolving this change environment, and how both the business operation and the processes that run through it will change, is the role of the Process Architect. This role is an evolution of the traditional process professional’s role and is a broadening to address extremely complex issues. As noted above, it is based on BPM technologies, tools, and concepts, and it is a repository of all the institutional operating information and knowledge on how the company works – including its rules.

It is this change environment that allows the Business Architect, working with the Process Architect, to understand the business operation and how it functions at any point in time. Equally important, it will show how the business and processes need to change to support business strategy or at a lower level business or quality improvement. Once the Business Architect determines the initiatives and projects needed to implement strategy – based on a mapping of the current state / future state business architecture, the work shifts to the Process Architect who will determine the potential impact on process and then move back across the organization lines to determine who must be involved and what that involvement must be. The Process Architect will then be responsible for insuring that process changes support the delivery of the strategic objectives.

Enterprise Technology Architect: Delivering Data and Automated Support

As soon as the types of operational and process changes have been determined by the Business and Process Architects, the Enterprise Technology Architect is brought in to determine the impact on the IT infrastructure and applications. Initiatives are now broken into projects and changes in the business and IT are determined.

The Enterprise Technology Architect is not an IT management role. It does not replace the CTO or the CIO or anyone below them. While it may be merged into the activities in the senior IT roles, it can also be considered as a new role. This role is responsible for coordinating the designs and evolution of the technology infrastructure, the network, IT support, the use of the Internet, application acquisition, application evolution, BPM technologies, existing architecture, emerging technologies, and trends.

The people filling this role will be concerned with technology use and not implementation or technology optimization. They would be responsible for making certain the technology environment is designed with the business and provides the needed support. In this role, they must keep abreast of emerging capabilities and look at things like SOA/EAI/ESB, legacy modernization, network tools, SaaS, Cloud Computing, data analytics, data visualization, and application generation from BPM tools. They would also be concerned with how this would all affect business support and the speed that IT can support business changes.

Making this Work

For many companies, these three types of architects represent new positions and a new approach to implementing strategy in their business. For large companies this approach represents a way to control the interaction between silo’d groups and a way to gain an understanding of how the operations really fit together. For mid size companies, this represents a type of control that is critical to business growth and the ability to support that growth.

This also ties strategy to corporate evolution. Companies constantly evolve. The problem is that to a great extent change is not coordinated at the department or corporate levels and it is not focused to deliver strategic goals or improvement. By creating the roles and strategic delivery environment discussed here, companies can become much more effective in implementing strategy and in tracking the exact progress of change toward meeting goals and controlling evolution.

For those companies with formal corporate planning groups or a planning function, the Business Architect will work closely with the planners to provide an ability to better prioritize and track projects and their progress. It will also help coordinate project products to make certain they all build together to support both strategy and improvement.


The greatest benefit is in improved control over the delivery of strategic operational change. Any strategy can only be achieved if the organizations have a clear picture of what they must do, how it will combine to support strategy, and how they can individually improve their operations while supporting these broader goals. In medium and large companies defining, planning, and coordinating the initiatives needed to accomplish the goals that drive strategy has been a problem. Determining everyone’s role in these initiatives and in the projects that support them has been critical but problematic. Equally important is that this clearly shows how every group’s activity supports the business goals and how they all contribute. Without this understanding prioritization has been a problem. Priorities among the various players have been difficult to control and coordinate because no one has had a holistic visibility at the level needed to make this happen. Also, outside of the CEO and the COO, no one has had the authority to align priorities and budgets. Addressing and eliminating these problems is the emerging role of these new positions and the executive managers who are being called to help guide corporate evolution.

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