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Business Analysts and Business Architecture

Business Architecture: from Chaos to Processes

Large corporations try to make sense from chaos that surrounds them by understanding their environments, finding rules of thumb, implementing robust, repeatable, replicable processes and ultimately optimize their profits. This reality gets to be more complicated with large corporations. It involves numerous professionals within the corporation that do not naturally communicate with each other often creating duplicated efforts or even worse confrontational efforts. Furthermore, new unresolved business challenges emerge frequently for which a corporation has yet to find valid rules of thumb and that can even make their current rules of thumb obsolete. This is where the business architecture discipline comes into play in result oriented corporations.

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As shown in Figure 1 above1, business architecture techniques makes it possible to make sense of chaos and find heuristic rules of thumb to develop news algorithms to make robust and repeatable formulas and processes executed afterward by enterprise architects, program managers, project managers and business analysts in their various business units. Motivation models, cohesion planning, cross functional capabilities mapping, value maps, business strategy mapping and other techniques makes it possible for business architecture team within an organization to find heuristic recipes, which can afterward be used and communicated to enterprise architects, project managers, program managers and business analysts.

Why Business Architecture?

Due to new emerging business challenges, corporate strategies are changing more and more rapidly triggering each time one or several new business architecture initiatives that need to be addressed promptly. These initiatives may vary a lot from a new product offering in the marketplace to a business unit restructuring or the integration of people, processes, capabilities, technology and culture during a merger and acquisition, etc. As shown in Figure 2 below2, 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. This is usually a big challenge, since only 25% of change management initiatives are successful over the long term according to a 2013 study made by Towers Watson3.dlambert img002 March17

There are several reasons why this failure rate is so high:

  • Too often business goals set by corporate executives are not realist,
  • The corporate executives are not involved in the daily activities required to make business changes happen, and
  • Business strategies are not well communicated throughout all involved functions of every business units to insure success.

In brief, business architecture initiatives are too often not laid out properly in a common language and even less clearly communicated in details to key stakeholders, enterprise architects, project managers and business analysts. This is why only 20% of respondents to an IBM 2014 Survey considered themselves successful in managing change within their corporation4.

Business Architecture: the Link Between the Corporate Executives’ Business Strategies and Business Analysts

Yet, there are tools out there that can make it easy for Business Architecture teams within a large corporation to communicate a common message while executing business architecture initiatives that will relate to corporate executives, enterprise architects, project managers and business analysts to avoid working in siloes.

For the Information Technology (“IT”) department and their business analysts, business architecture is the elaboration of what the business people are trying to do. It might picture process flows, information flows, corporate goals list, business strategy mappings, capabilities diagrams, requirement planning, product mapping, or simply the currently popular competencies within the corporation. Business architecture needs to be something that business managers can view, have approved and that can afterward be shared with business analysts, project managers and enterprise architects. As mentioned in BPTrends5, Business architecture should not be an abstraction created by the IT department and claimed to be derived from conversations with business managers.

Business architecture tools include possibly business architecture modules part of Enterprise Architecture software applications like Troux Enterprise Portfolio Management, MEGA Enterprise Architecture, Aris Business & IT Transformation or more specific and user-friendly software tools for business architecture that allow easy publishing of a corporate’s business architecture model in print or on private Webpages using browsers6. Business analysts and IT managers can use these tools daily to handle their IT requirements. They can easily consult their corporation’s business architecture model on the Web to have the most accurate content relating to their activities and make sure that their IT projects are in line within the organization’s business strategies and at the end increase the odds of success in their own initiatives.

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  • 1Graphic made from slide 43 in the slideshow entitled “Driving your BA Career – From Business Analyst to Business Architect” made by Craig Martin on Sept. 30, 2014 and from the book entitled “The design of Business”, written by Roger Martin in the Harvard Business Press in 2009.
  • 2Graphic made from slide 17 in the slideshow entitled “Driving your BA Career – From Business Analyst to Business Architect” made by Craig Martin on Sept. 30, 2014.
  • 3Source from the article entitled “New Study Explores Why Change Management Fails – And How To (Perhaps) Succeed” written by Victor Lipman in Forbes on Sept. 4, 2013.
  • 4Source: Executive report from IBM’s Global Business Services entitled “Making change work …while the work keeps changing. How Change Architects lead and manage organizational change” and written by By Hans-Henrik Jorgensen, Oliver Bruehl and Neele Franke.
  • 5To find out more, read this article entitled “Who needs Business Architecture”, written by Paul Harmon in BPTrends on Dec. 13, 2014.
  • 6To find out more about one specific and user-friendly tool for business architecture, read this article entitled “View into the Business Architecture Practice of a Renown USA Federal Agency” published on LinkedIn on Nov. 5, 2014.