What is Business Architecture? Business Architecture Definition (2024)

People who want to practice Business Architecture (BA) or learn about it are in a difficult spot; it has become more difficult than ever to separate Business Architecture facts from beliefs, experiences from opinions, and sound practices from declarations.

The field appears so irregular because academia, publications, consultants, and the internet, present Business Architecture in disparate voices advancing a multitude of approaches, meanings, and sets of expectations—some based on internet writings, some based on conjecture, and some based on opinion, and yes, some based on sound Business Architecture practice.

How do you sort things out with blogs, forums, dozens of Business Architecture organizations of various types, and the internet itself?

  1. The essential first question is, "Does what I am hearing or seeing make sense?"

    • We try to relate physical analogies to what we hear about Business Architecture to provide a frame of reference.

      • We suggest if something does not make sense in the physical world, it probably is not valid in the Business or Business Architecture world.

        • We suggest that you favor logic over what you may hear or want to believe – sometimes due to "confirmation bias."

  2. Another good question is, "Is this statement I have just read just a bunch of words?"

    • Nothing is true just because it is stated frequently.

  3. The third question is, "Who is saying this, and what is his or her background?"

    • Has someone who says something about Business Architecture (whatever the definition) verifiably ever done Business Architecture?

Below are fact-based descriptions of Business Architecture grounded in logic, sound practices, and principles based on decades of field engagements and experience.

Business Architecture Definition

Business Architecture is explicitly representing an organization’s desired state and as-is state, through a set of independent, non-redundant artifacts, defining how these artifacts relate with each other and developing a set of prioritized, aligned capabilities needed to meet the organization’s goals, communicating this understanding to stakeholders, and advancing the organization from its as-is state to its desired state.

  • Business Architecture (BA) helps in laying out a clear framework of a company’s structure, personnel, technology, and business.

  • Business Architecture thus provides graphic detail of an organization’s working and helps in planning and improving for optimizing business.

  • BA provides a comprehensive view of an organization’s policies, principles, services and solutions, standards, and guidelines.

  • BA promotes and aligns IT initiatives throughout the enterprise.

What is Business Architecture? Business Architecture Definition (1)

"Architecture" defined.

Architecture is the art and science of representing building (construction) and how components and artifacts are organized, related, and integrated.

"Business" defined.

Within Business Architecture, the term Business is any collection of "roles/responsibilities" with a common set of strategies/goals and/or a single "bottom line." A Business can be a whole corporation/entity, a division of a corporation/entity, a government organization/entity, a single department, or a network of geographically distant organizations/entities linked together by common objectives, a project, a team, etc. Essentially “Business” is a boundary condition.

Organizations are like physical items. They need the level of specificity of buildings or airplanes, or ocean liners.

We believe that enterprises are much more complex than any of these physical items. For example, if you are building a rowboat, you probably do not need much architecture. However, if you are constructing an ocean liner, you need extensive architecture and at great detail.

If you are building a model airplane, you probably do not need much architecture. However, you need extensive architecture if you are building a Boeing 747 that flies over water at night (with us in it!).

What is Business Architecture? Business Architecture Definition (2)

Compare, too, a log cabin to a one-hundred-story building. Ask the people who completed a one-hundred-story building how much time they spent on architecture and how much they spent on Implementation. You might be surprised. But we don't think you will be surprised at the level of detail in the buildings' architecture.

If you are building an international organization with;

  • thousands of employees,

  • numerous products,

  • numerous customers and are undergoing constant change to keep up or move ahead of the competition, you need extensive architecture.

Architecture is the baseline for managing complexity and change. Without it, what will you use to address complexity and change, and what will you do to avoid unintended consequences (that is, you had no details in your architecture)? Architecture is about planning, analyzing, designing, and assembling solutions.

We hope organizations would stop using the prevalent life cycle of "construct, maintain, maintain, maintain," which sometimes masquerades as version 1.1, 1.1.1, 1.1.1.1, etc.!

What is your approach to managing complexity and change if it isn't BACOE Business Architecture? We aren't saying that you have to do everything at once. Instead, Business Architecture is a continuous process with a greater granularity of its artifacts over time as the organization changes and as more of the enterprise is mechanized or automated.

Architecture occurs prior to making a change. Documentation occurs after the change is made. This is the only logical, practical, and cost-effective way to proceed. One crucial objective is to continually reduce the risk of unintended consequences and inappropriate changes.

Summary of BACOE Business Architecture:

  • Clearly lays out the goals of the organization, and its critical components and defines them in their relationship with other components.

  • Business Architecture is developed based on individual department goals and overall business objectives. Business architecture and strategic planning is the key to planning, coordinating, and implementing an organization’s business objectives. It helps in the smooth functioning of different units in an organization, both inside and outside the enterprise itself.

  • Business Architecture is a kind of planning based on the strategic vision of the company that moves from a “narrative” thousands of pages of text approach to a more visual easy consume and understand approach.

  • It helps create a synergy of the firm’s various capabilities and guides them towards strategic goals. It lays out a clear framework of a company’s structure, personnel, and business, called a Business Architecture Framework.

  • What pages and pages of text on a company’s performance cannot achieve, Business Architecture can, with its visual and graphic impact. Business architecture can document a company’s present baseline state as well as project an ideal world future state.

What Business Architecture is NOT

A great thing about the internet is anyone can write anything about anything. One of the problems with the internet IS that anyone can write anything about anything! For Business Architecture (BA), the Google popularity ranking tool, also thought of by some as a "search engine," shows 811,000,000 search entries for BA. Not very useful.

It is often misused and miss represented by confirmation bias. - the tendency of human beings to actively search for, interpret, and retain information that matches their preconceived notions and beliefs.

The video below provides an understanding of “Confirmation Bias.”

What is Business Architecture? Business Architecture Definition (3)

It is not "Business Application Information Technology (BAIT).”

The BAIT model was an early attempt to define the models required prior to systems implementation. It was developed with systems implementations as the primary target and is not based on a frame of reference (a Framework). Its most strident previous supporters now call this an "IT stack." We agree that this positioning makes more sense.

The result of most of the bait models, as I like to call them, the B-A-I-T, is a representation that is very colorful and very representative of something. But I and many others do not understand exactly what it is. And generally, it becomes "wall-ware" or "shelfware." Because fundamentally, there are things that are missing or misunderstandings that are drawn from this.

Business Architecture can not be “agile.

“Experts" out there are calling what they now do and teach "agile" Business Architecture. What does this "agile" architecture mean?

Putting the adjective "agile" in front of the already misrepresented and ambiguous phrase "business architecture" doesn't make the discipline and practice more effective.

We do not believe that "agile" business architecture can even be a real thing! It is the output of TRUE business architecture that would enable business "agility" – which is really the desired outcome! A very big difference.

BACOE Business Architecture results in capabilities that enable "agility" within organizations. Giving your business what it needs to win over competitors and have a sustainable competitive advantage.

What is Business Architecture? Business Architecture Definition (4)

It does seem that adding the adjective "agile" to Business Architecture makes it now different than previous methods, teachings, courses, or "certifications." This would imply, using the antonym of "agile" that, what they were doing before was dull and slow, and what they are doing now, "agile" Business Architecture, is quick and nimble.

What does that say about the previous approaches these "experts" called "Business Architecture?"

Business Architecture does not fit on one page or computer monitor.

We are not sure why people think it is important to stay within one page, but whatever they are trying to do, it is not a Business Architecture.

If you have ever had the privilege (or frustration) of building a house, you know you get a "scroll" of diagrams (blueprints) for the home. If something as simple as a house needs a scroll of drawings, a Business Architecture will also require at least one representation that needs more room than one page.

This analogy suggests another hint: there is no one "picture" in the set of house blueprints that solves all constituents' or stakeholders' needs. Similarly, no single drawing or representation solves all needs of all Business Architecture stakeholders: the complexity is much greater. In addition, different audiences require different criteria.

  • Our primary criterion for business-facing models is whether they are "human-consumable.”

  • Our primary criterion for technology- and implementation-facing models is whether they are transformable into solutions.

  • We suggest that there are thirty possible Architectural Model representations and, theoretically, 684 possible Implementation Model representations that may interest segments of enterprise stakeholders. Yes, more than one!

    • We can calculate this census of models because we have The Enterprise Framework™️.

    • We don't have to (or need to or should) develop all of these representations—just the ones that we decide are relevant.

    • However, just because something is not made explicit does not mean it does not exist; it is just implicit. If there are implicit understandings, it means there is guessing.

      • But in not making something explicit, we are making a value judgment. We are delighted to understand what we know and are making explicit. Still, we also know what we are making assumptions about (what remains implicit) when we have the framework acting as our frame of reference.

Strategy and Hyper-Competition; where does Business Architecture fit?

Let us take a brief time out and look at Strategy – what it is, the hyper-competition and hyper-speed changes that organizations are facing, and its relationship to Business Architecture.

We bring you this presentation, partially as a reminder, as to what the endgame of BACOE Business Architecture is – helping the business run better.

  • BACOE Business Architecture is the baseline for addressing, leading, and managing change.

  • BACOE Business Architecture is the enabler of business and mission strategy.

Let us step away from the bombardment we get from all of the online sources that try to convince people that the newest model, diagram, tool, or “silver bullet” is what we need. We need to focus on the endgame – the business of the business.

Join us – whatever your business or enterprise discipline is, and see how all of this fits together.

We hope this webinar will bring a calming effect to all, that are now suffering from the too-common disease – internalities!

What is Business Architecture? Business Architecture Definition (5)

What does the Business Architect do?

Many mistakenly believe that the Business Architect does all architectures within a Business. As in the medical profession, a surgeon does not do everything in the medical profession, and electrical engineers do not do everything in the engineering profession. Read the full Business Architect Job description HERE.

The BACOE defined twelve mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive Architecture Modeling Roles, providing precise and complete role responsibility; The Architect roles in an enterprise. There are no loose ends or unassigned gray areas to be overlooked or a source of concern in Business Architecture as it relates to other Architecture roles. Of course, to deploy all of these roles efficiently and effectively, they must be governed by a clear frame of reference.

As an expert in Business Architecture with extensive practical experience and a comprehensive understanding of its principles, methodologies, and real-world applications, I have actively engaged in the field for years. I've been involved in numerous consulting engagements, implementing Business Architecture practices for diverse organizations, aligning their objectives, capabilities, and strategies to achieve desired outcomes.

Regarding the provided article discussing Business Architecture, I can offer detailed insights and break down the concepts presented:

  1. Business Architecture Definition: Describes Business Architecture as a means to represent an organization's current and desired states through independent artifacts, outlining relationships, and prioritizing aligned capabilities to meet goals. It emphasizes communication to stakeholders and guiding the transition from the current to the desired state.

  2. Scope of Business Architecture: It encompasses an organization's structure, technology, personnel, policies, services, and solutions. It aims to provide a comprehensive view of the organization's functioning, aiding in planning, optimizing, and improving business operations.

  3. Components and Framework: Highlights the framework of Business Architecture, detailing an organization's structure, personnel, and overall business. It emphasizes the visual representation to create a synergy of capabilities and guide strategic goals.

  4. What Business Architecture is NOT: Discusses misconceptions and misrepresentations associated with Business Architecture. It clarifies that Business Architecture isn't synonymous with "agile," nor does it fit on a single page or monitor.

  5. Business Architect's Role: Clarifies the responsibilities of a Business Architect, emphasizing that they don't cover all aspects of architecture within a business but specialize in specific roles related to Business Architecture.

  6. Architecture in Complexity and Change Management: Stresses the significance of architecture in managing complexity and change within organizations. It presents Business Architecture as a continuous process and highlights the importance of documentation before and after changes.

  7. Strategy and Hyper-Competition: Discusses the role of Business Architecture as the baseline for addressing change, enabling business strategy, and managing hyper-competitive environments.

  8. Frameworks and Governance: Mentions the necessity of clear frameworks and governance in efficiently deploying various architectural roles within an organization.

In conclusion, Business Architecture stands as a crucial practice to align an organization's goals, capabilities, and strategies. It involves continuous planning, documentation, and visualization to navigate complex business landscapes and facilitate strategic decision-making.

If you have specific questions or need further elaboration on any aspect of Business Architecture, feel free to ask!

What is Business Architecture? Business Architecture Definition (2024)

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