Clients and users of our software application [1] are either business architects [2], enterprise architects that understand the need of linking business strategies to their initiatives and their enterprise architecture model, or experienced business analysts that know both the business and IT side of their organizations and must manage their organization’s requirements with relevance to their organization’s strategies. Most of them have many if not all the skills set mentioned above:

1. Customer-Driven

Most of our clients understand that their organization 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 article [3], “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 Business Model Canvas (as per diagram 1 below), Customer Journey Maps, Customer Value Maps and Customer Value Stages linked to their enabling Capabilities; and not just Capabilities linked to applications and IT systems.

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2. Excel at Finding Value

Business 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 [4], 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.

William Ulrich and Jim Rhyne also explain clearly why business capabilities alone are insufficient to link an organization’s enterprise 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. [5]” Business architect 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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3. Good Communicators

Business architects are extremely good listeners. The scenarios that business architects build for any initiative are the results of multiple meetings on both sides of the fence, business and IT. During initial meetings, 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, a lot like enterprise architects [6], business architects can be part of a business reunion and be offering value, insights and guidance in plain words on digital transformation within weeks. 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.
Furthermore, 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 the company really wants.

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Finally, business architects know how to sell themselves. I often read that it is difficult for a business architect to justify its practice and that measuring an ROI is impossible. This is usually because the business architect does not know how to promote himself and his peers. In a previous article entitled “What’s the ROI on Your Business Architecture Practice? [7]”, I list 7 reasons to use Business Architecture. At minimum, as I have explained in the past, 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 business architecture model. These time savings alone are a very good incentive to justify business architecture.

4. Not an Enterprise & Business Architecture Model Freak

Business architecture models should be a simple question-answering device easily accessible internally with a browser. Aiming for a quick time-to value, good business 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 business architect will build its business architecture model one initiative at a time, using one of the many industry reference models that are already available in the BIZBOK® Guide [8], for example. With each new initiative a business architect is involved with, he will reuse some of the information he and his teammate 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

A good business architect knows that building a business Architecture model without measuring any of its key elements is a pure waste of time. A business architect also understands the need for strategic and tactical measurements, and how to have effective measurements (KPIs) in place with proper diagrams (see Diagram 4 below), as I have described in a previous article [9].

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 [10]”. 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

Like good enterprise architects, business architects using our tool know how to meet both tactical and strategic objectives of the organization. Business architects can both advise on short term questions or provide a long-term business-oriented road map for IT and its business systems.
A simple road map 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 business architects can generate in a week or so. This tactical road map will answer questions and provide guide lines that will be very useful while delivering a project.

At the strategic level, more sophisticated portfolio initiative road maps become very valuable for long range multi-year planning. These long-term road maps 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, 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 architect’s job does not stop at producing road maps 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[11]. 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 non-existent. This is why a good business architect will always make sure to make his detailed 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” [12].

In summary, a good and appreciated business architect is very customer-driven, excel at finding value for his organization and customers, communicates well both with businessmen and IT personnel, is not an enterprise & business architecture model freak, knows measurement techniques inside out, meets his organization’s objectives and is finally involved with the delivery of road maps.

Are you yet a good business architect?

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[1] Our software application product is IRIS Business Architect.
[2] In this article, I refer to a business architect as a man. I use the words “he” and “his” everywhere. It goes without saying that a business architect can also be a woman and that “she” and “her” could have been used instead.
[3] This article is entitled “Enabling Customer Driven Innovations Using Business Architecture” and was published on LinkedIn Pulse on March 16, 2017 and written by Daniel Lambert.
[4] 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.
[5] William Ulrich and Jim Rhyne wrote this article entitled “Business Architecture: Why Businesses Require a Stakeholder Value-Driven Perspective” published on the Business Architecture Institute website.
[6] 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.
[7] This article is entitled “What’s the ROI on Your Business Architecture Practice?” and was published on LinkedIn Pulse on April 12, 2016 and written by Daniel Lambert.
[8] Please find out more about the BIZBOK® Guide Release 6.0 here.
[9] This article is entitled “The Art of Measurement and Business Architecture” and was published on LinkedIn Pulse on December 20, 2016 and written by Daniel Lambert.
[10] 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.
[11] More about these studies can be found here: Towers Watson, Harvard Business Review, and McKinsey & Co.
[12] This article entitled “Providing Access To Your Business Architecture Model: The Key To An Agile Digital Transformation” was published in Project Times in October 2016 and written by Daniel Lambert.