Business Architecture Takes Major Steps Toward Maturation

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Author(s)

President, TSG, Inc.
William Ulrich is President of TSG, Inc. and a strategic planning consultant specializing in business / IT alignment. He has worked with numerous large corporations and government agencies in the area of business / IT alignment. Mr. Ulrich has written several books and published hundreds of articles. His latest book is Business Architecture: The Art and Practice of Business Transformation. Mr. Ulrich is a Former Editorial Director of BAInstitute.org and Co-founder of the Business Architecture Guild and an advisor to the Penn State Enterprise Architecture Advisory Group.

A year ago, I wrote a BA Bulletin article entitled “A Business Architecture Body of Knowledge.” In that article we examined the grassroots evolution of a body of knowledge and early signs of adoption. We spoke of selected success stories, business architecture as a worldwide phenomenon, the move towards business-driven business architecture and initial automation efforts. That article also discussed the rollout of release 1.0 of “A Guide to the Business Architecture Body of Knowledge” (BIZBOK™).[1] Since that time, business architecture has matured as a discipline and in practice, moving beyond simplistic discussions that were commonplace just a couple of years ago. Today we are seeing an increase in industry success stories, the alignment of business architecture with related disciplines, the ability to hurdle deployment roadblocks and the standardization of business architecture training courses.

Consider that success stories are being shared in live events, virtually through online webinars and in articles from sources like the Business Architecture Institute (BAInstitute.org). Another sign of wider spread adoption is that success stories are coming from the rank and file practitioners from a growing number of industries across geographic regions. For example, the Business Architecture Innovation Summit features practitioners from a variety of industries who have deployed and benefitted from the use of business architecture.

Roadblocks to deployment are beginning to fall as well. One common roadblock to adoption is that management has already invested in other disciplines that claim executive mindshare and budget dollars. Viewing this from the perspective of an executive who has invested in business process management (BPM), Lean Six Sigma, case management or TOGAF, one can anticipate the skepticism when approached about yet another new concept – business architecture. This is why it is important to articulate why and how business architecture complements these disciplines and frameworks. BIZBOK™ 3.0, released in Jan. 2013, includes guidelines for leveraging business architecture in conjunction with BPM, Lean Six Sigma, case management, requirements analysis, enterprise architecture frameworks such as Zachman and TOGAF, portfolio management, SOA and data architecture.

Another roadblock to adoption involves the need to establish business ownership of business architecture. For some IT organizations, the concept of business ownership has been a non-starter, because IT wants to retain complete control of all architecture work and artifacts. This reluctance has resulted in IT trying to build and represent the business architecture unilaterally or with minimal business involvement. But IT-developed business blueprints are often incomplete, do not represent a business perspective or vocabulary, and rarely gain business buy-in. What we have found is that IT tends to feel that it is giving up control by asking the business to take ownership of the business architecture. These IT centric efforts often go nowhere and result in giving IT and business architecture a bad name. Fortunately, a growing number of success stories show that business professionals can not only develop capability, value, organization and other business maps or blueprints, but typically deliver more complete, accurate, non-redundant and useable results.

Yet another sign of the maturation of business architecture has been the standardization of industry training. For example, BAInstitute.org’s Business Architecture Learning Path for 2013 will offer a newly reworked set of courses that are aligned to the approaches outlined in the BIZBOK™. Having an industry body of knowledge provides a natural outline and set of concepts for establishing a robust set of training courses. As a result, each course works off of a common framework, perspectives, principles and scenario concepts. This provides continuity for individuals seeking to understand business architecture, delivering a consistent, proven approach to the practice.

In summary, industry maturation of business architecture has been expedited by a shared body of knowledge, practice based success stories, the ability to knock down acceptance and deployment roadblocks, and standardization of industry training. The good news for practitioners is that business architecture is moving to the next phase of maturity as more organizations adopt, deploy and leverage this important discipline.

[1] Source: Business Architecture Guild.

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