What’s your definition of business architecture? Here’s ours:
a structural representation of a business solution as it relates to creating business value and achieving business goals
Like most practitioners we mean a blueprint.
Actually, blueprint doesn’t completely align with the dictionary definitions of architecture. You can take your pick from the following alternatives, but not one of them refers to a representation of what is being built.
1. Art and Science: the art or practice of designing and building structures … in accordance with principles determined by aesthetic and practical or material considerations
2. Structure: formation or construction whether the result of conscious act or of growth or of random disposition of the parts … e.g., architecture and function of the cerebral cortex
3. Specific Result: instance of the exercise of the art or science of architecture … architectural product: architectural work … e.g., the mansions which comprise the entire architecture of the Square
4. Method of Style: a method or style of building characterized by certain peculiarities of structure …
The first definition above refers to architecture as an art and science. That’s what architecture students go to universities to learn, and what professional architects practice daily. Who today really thinks of business architecture as an art and science? It should be – and it probably will be eventually – but it’s not yet.
The first definition also highlights principles. Any viable approach to business architecture must enumerate its principles and adhere to them closely. That’s not just so much talk. The approach must provide proper thinking tools so that you can consistently act in accordance with the principles.
Do most current approaches to business architecture provide such thinking tools? I think not. If they did, they would feature:
- Business policies (in the context of business strategy), business rules, and decision engineering. Those things represent the intellect of the organization and the fundamental answer for question why.
- A carefully factored approach whose component models cover each of the facets needed to communicate effectively with all the different audiences engaged with, or affected by, a business solution.
Let’s face it. Many techniques currently offered for ‘business architecture’ frankly aren’t even really about the business. They’re about – what else – IT’s view of the business.
Some related points:
1. We think that business architecture always involves some amount (often pervasive) of organizational transformation, which can be taken to include building a new business solution completely from scratch. Organizational transformation is inevitable, so other than buzzword appeal, there’s really no need to mention it in the definition of business architecture.
2. Architect can be used as a verb (to plan and contrive as an architect). Too bad “architecting” doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as “designing” or “modeling”. After all, architecting business solutions is exactly what business architects should be doing daily.