by Daniel Lambert

I have met a lot of business and enterprise architects over the time. Some know their business industry inside out. Others know information technology extremely well. The ones that I prefer are very good at handling both the business and the technology side of their organization. They listen very well and can explain simply complicated situations and understands both the business side and the technical complexities of their organization. They understand how to assist in decision making with business stakeholders while being able to communicate into details a selected scenario to the software/IT/solution architects, business analysts, and software developers so that an initiative or a project can be delivered with more agility. Indispensable business and enterprise architects understand the need of linking business strategies to their initiatives and their enterprise architecture model. Yet, they can also rollup their sleeves and assist business analysts to link their architecture modeling into detailed and agile requirements and user stories for optimal delivery. Most of these business and enterprise architects have many if not all these compelling skills set mentioned above:

1. Customer Driven

Complete business and enterprise architects understand that their organizations must become customer-driven, where different business units within their organization that use to work independently in the past now must collaborate to innovate their business, products and services. As I’ve written in a previous whitepaper[1], “In a Customer Lifetime Value model, it’s clearly not just about marketing push anymore, but more about marketing pull and collaboration. It requires more predictive insight data analysis, interactive & proactive services, individualized customer understanding using personas, inter-enterprise bundles between business units and departments, integrated and seamless channels and the elimination of all functional organizational silos to become a customer outcome organization.” Customer-driven business architects use methods and diagrams like the business model canvas (as per Diagram 1 below), customer journey maps, customer value maps and customer value stages linked to their enabling capabilities or their participating stakeholders; and not just capabilities linked to applications and IT systems.

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2. Knowing How to Prioritize and Finding Value

Talented business and enterprise architects may be good at finding cost reductions by examining, for example, redundancies in the number of applications that fulfill a capability, but they also excel at finding and explaining value for their organization and customers. As pointed out by Alec Blair and Bryan Lail in an OPEN Group video[2], enterprise and business architects use Value Streams/Stages with enabling Capabilities Diagrams (example shown in diagram 2 below) to understand if a business capability is providing tangible value or not to key stakeholders, usually customers or partners. It goes without saying that management should not concentrate their resources on capabilities that generate little value to key stakeholders, but instead focus on the capabilities that are essential in providing value.

The authors in this article also explain clearly why business capabilities alone are insufficient to link an organization’s architecture to its business strategies. “Unless value streams are incorporated and tied to strategy, it will be difficult to see which capabilities are more important and which capabilities are less important in realizing a strategic objective.[3]” Business and enterprise architects can build better strategic initiative investments that are focusing on a combination of capabilities and value streams, ensuring that there is a direct tie into project investments and stakeholder value delivery.

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Business and Enterprise Architects also know how to prioritize and find value in several other ways as explained in this whitepaper[4] entitled “Digital Transformation: How to Set your Priorities Using Architecture”. It demonstrates various other business and enterprise architecture methods, including value streams, to optimize the prioritization of initiatives. This whitepaper also elaborates on these other methods: capability to organization cross-mapping to eliminate inefficiencies, capability to applications cross-mapping to eliminate duplications, information concepts to data models to eliminate redundant data, and value stages to stakeholders to understand which stakeholders are critical in your organization.

3. Good Communicators

Business and enterprise architects are also extremely good listeners. The scenarios that enterprise and business architects build for any initiative are the results of multiple meetings on both side of the fence, business and IT. During initial meetings, enterprise and business architects mostly listen and extract relevant issues and information that matters. This capability of listening allows them afterward to be good communicators both to businessmen and technical people, who perceive each other very differently as shown in Diagram 3 below.
On the business side, enterprise and business architects can be part of a business reunion and be offering value, insights and guidance in plain words on digital transformation within weeks[5]. They can do this with confidence by combining various company technical data in one place and then modeling and referencing relevant data for reuse in a way that can be easily understood by businessmen.

With IT, they can do the exact opposite. They know enough about the organization’s current business strategies, that they can be in a technical meeting and explain to CIOs, solutions architects, software architects, agile experts and/or business analysts, what the business side of their organization really wants.

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Finally, enterprise and business architects know how to sell themselves. I often read that it is difficult for enterprise and business architects to justify their practice and that measuring an ROI is impossible. This is usually because these enterprise and business architects do not know how to promote themselves. In a previous whitepaper entitled “What’s the ROI on Your Business Architecture Practice?[6]”, 7 reasons are listed to use enterprise and business architecture. At minimum, enterprise and business architecture allows tremendous time savings. Business stakeholders do not have to waste time as much doing interviews with business analysts for every agile project there is. On the other side, business analysts can gather the required information for their user case and agile projects much more quickly, if they have access to the organization’s architecture model. These time savings alone are a very good incentive to justify enterprise and business architecture.

4. Not Architecture Model Freaks

Business and enterprise architecture models should be a simple question-answering device easily accessible internally with a browser. Aiming for a quick time-to value, good architects can build a model that contains as much details as needed to answer questions from both the business and technical side of their organization for a given initiative, but nothing more.

The alternative approach, which is to build an enormous and "comprehensive" data repository from the bottom up and then decide which questions it can answer is unhelpful and is counter productive. More often then not, builders of these extensive data repositories lack current business strategies, current initiatives and have mostly been built in silo away from the action.

Instead, a good enterprise and business architects will build its business architecture model one initiative at a time, using one of the many industry frameworks and reference models that exists out there. With each new initiative enterprise and business architects are involved with, they will reuse some of the information they have already created while being involved in previous initiatives and add relevant new data and information pertinent to the new initiative. Only over time will a business or enterprise architecture model cover most business units and activities of its organization.

5. Know Measurement Techniques Inside Out

Good enterprise and business architects know that building a business Architecture model without measuring any of its key elements is a pure waste of time. Enterprise and business architects also understand the need for strategic and tactical measurements, and how to have effective measurements (KPIs) in place with proper diagrams (see Diagram 4 below), as described in this whitepaper[7].

Diane Lebeau and Diana Krohn at United Airlines illustrate very well how measurements can be misleading in a presentation entitled “Using Business Capabilities to Make IT Metrics Meaningful[8]”. Their IT reliability metrics where often disconnected from business reality. Business feedback wasn’t trending with metrics used to measure IT systems and applications. It was unclear how application performance impacted business performance. Their reliability investment methodology was not consistent and their metrics were not business impact focused. Only by selecting measurements at the capability and value stream level was United Airline able to align IT to business.

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6. Meeting the Organization’s Objectives

Talented Business and Enterprise Architects know how to meet both tactical and strategic objectives of the organization. Business and enterprise architects can both advise on short term questions or provide a long-term business-oriented roadmap for IT and its business systems.

A simple roadmap will suffice at the tactical level. It will be a straightforward heat map of business capabilities and system applications to show what is changing or needs to be done. It's something enterprise and business architects can generate in a week or so. This tactical roadmap will answer questions and provide guide lines that will be very useful while delivering a project.

At the strategic level, more sophisticated portfolio initiative roadmaps become very valuable for long range multi-year planning. These long-term roadmaps will typically set out multiple architectures, mapping current states, transition states and various future states while including discrete options. Once decisions are made regarding which future state the organization is leaning toward, enterprise and business architects will make sure that it is made available to those involved with the delivery both on the business and IT side of their organization.

7. Involved in Delivery

The business and enterprise architect’s job does not stop at producing roadmaps and assisting corporate management in the selection of an optimal scenario. In many organizations, still today, only 25% to 30% of business transformation initiatives are successful over the long term according to studies made by Towers Watson, Harvard Business Review, and McKinsey & Co[9]. These studies all indicate that digital transformation projects often fail short of their objectives and drag far too long, often because the coordination and architectural bridges between business and IT stakeholders are none existent. This is why good enterprise and business architects will always make sure to make their detailed enterprise and business architecture model available to those involved with the delivery of tactical projects or strategic initiatives, as explained in this article entitled “Providing Access to your Business Architecture Model: the Key to an Agile Digital Transformation”[10].

In summary, good and appreciated business or enterprise architects are very customer-driven, excel at finding value for its organization and customers, communicate well both with businessmen/businesswomen and IT personnel, are not architecture model freaks, know measurement techniques inside out, meet their organization’s objectives and can rollup their sleeves by getting involved with the delivery of roadmaps.

Are you yet a good enterprise or business architect?

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[1] This whitepaper is entitled “Enabling Customer Driven Innovations Using Business Architecture” and was published on this website in March, 2017 and written by Daniel Lambert.
[2] Alec Blair and J. Bryan Lail spoke in this OPEN Group video entitled “TOGAF® Business Architecture: Value Stream Guide - The Open Group” published on Youtube on March 20, 2017.
[3] Jim Rhyne and William Ulrich wrote this article entitled “Business Architecture: Why Businesses Require a Stakeholder Value-Driven Perspective” published on the Business Architecture Institute website.
[4] This whitepaper is entitled “Digital Transformation: How to Set your Priorities Using Architecture” and was published on this website in March, 2018 and written by Daniel Lambert.
[5] An article entitled “Six Secrets of Top Enterprise Architects” written by Tim O’Neil in InfoWorld on Nov. 4, 2015 explains well the factors of success of enterprise architects.
[6] This whitepaper is entitled “What’s the ROI on Your Business Architecture Practice?” and was published on LinkedIn Pulse in April, 2016 and written by Daniel Lambert.
[7] This whitepaper is entitled “The Art of Measurement and Business Architecture” and was published on LinkedIn Pulse on December 20, 2016 and written by Daniel Lambert.
[8] This presentation entitled “Using Business Capabilities to Make IT Metrics Meaningful” made by Diane LeBeau and Diana Krohn both from United Airlines during the Business Architecture Innovation Summit on March 21, 2017 in Reston VA.
[9] More about these studies can be found here: Towers Watson, Harvard Business Review, and McKinsey & Co.
[10] This article entitled “Providing Access To Your Business Architecture Model: The Key To An Agile Digital Transformation” was published on this website in October 2016 and written by Daniel Lambert.