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What Is Business Architecture?

According to Wikipedia, business architecture is a part of an enterprise architecture related to a corporate business or an organization.

The formal definition according to the Object Management Group’s Business Architecture Working Group as follows: “A blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization and is used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands.”

The documents and diagrams within this blueprint – created and managed with software products like IRIS Business Architect – describe the architectural structure of this business or organization. Business architecture is the bridge between the enterprise business model and the enterprise strategy on one side, and the business functionality of the corporate business or organization on the other side.

People who build business architecture are known as Business Architects. Working as a change agent with senior business stakeholders, the Business Architect plays a key part in shaping and fostering continuous improvement, business transformation, and business innovation initiatives.

The table to the right illustrates common disconnects in today’s business environment. 70% of all organizational initiatives fail, according to the Journal of Change Management. Furthermore, Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton have gathered data that reveals that only 10% of organizations succeed in executing their own vision. To increase the success of corporate initiatives, Business Architects have gained in importance within their organization to properly align all senior stakeholders in executing the business vision.

Architecture reveals how an organization is structured and can clearly demonstrate how elements such as capabilities, processes, strategy, objectives, organization and information all fit together. The relationships among these elements dictate and specify what the organization does, and what senior stakeholders need to do to meet the organization’s common goals.


As shown in the Figure at the right of this paragraph, the business architecture discipline is involved in the strategic, marketing and operational planning of any new corporate initiative. Each business architecture initiative then needs to be delivered and executed by enterprise architects, program managers, portfolio managers, project managers, solutions architects, solutions software developers and of course business analysts according to plans coming from corporate executives.


Why Is Business Architecture Valuable?

Does your organization suffer from chronic disconnect between stakeholders? A common problem in today’s business comes from the upstream corporate vision that too often fails to get successfully translated into actionable objectives. Downstream, critical coordination fails amongst business units, as well as between the business and IT. This is why Business Architecture serves to properly align the organization within all its business units. Business Architecture reveals how an organization is structured and can clearly demonstrate how elements such as capabilities, processes, organization and information fit together. The IRIS Business Architect software makes it easy for Business Architects to deliver to all senior stakeholders a reusable set of assets – in a commonly understood language – that enables your company to quickly assess and make strategic or operational changes. With IRIS Business Architect, Business Architects can now ensure successful strategy translation by enabling the key stakeholders of their company to visualize the end-state of their company’s business strategies before the plan is implemented delivering the following:

  • focused and aligned strategies for all its business units,
  • improved decision making by lowering risk,
  • increased operational efficiency,
  • capacity for growth and agility in your business and IT execution.



How Can Business Architecture Be Used?


Here are some of the events and challenges facing enterprises where Business Architects can have a significant impact in insuring that corporate strategies are implemented with cohesion everywhere in their business units:

  • Drive legacy modernization
  • Investment analyses
  • New product offering or service rollout in the marketplace
  • Globalization
  • Business capacity outsourcing
  • Supplying chain streamlining
  • Divestiture
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Joint-venture development
  • Define a new market
  • Business unit restructuring
  • Reinvent what and who a company is
  • Integrate people, processes, capabilities, technology and culture during a merger and acquisition
  • Transform a large enterprise to a customer centric business model
  • Make a decision that significantly reshapes a government program


When Is a Good Time to Engage in Business Architecture?

Business Architects should engage themselves at a beginning of a corporate initiative. If your organization has not applied Business Architecture before, select an appropriate first initiative that can easily foster buy-in. Often Business Architecture practitioners will also be hired to guide you into the Business Architecture process and built your own Business Architect team.