The voice of business architecture. And more.

A walk through the BIZBOK

“Business architecture represents holistic, multidimensional business views of: capabilities, end-to-end value delivery, information, and organizational structure; and the relationships among these business views and strategies, products, policies, initiatives, and stakeholders”.

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In this segment, I want to share some information from A Guide to the Business Architecture Body of Knowledge®, otherwise known as the BIZBOK® Guide.

The opening quote is the definition of what business architecture is, as revised in version 11.0. I think it’s important enough to share.

Another important aspect is that of the boundaries of the scope that coincides with the boundary definition of the business. The BIZBOK® Guide considers this to be the business ecosystem. This ecosystem obviously contains the core legal entity that anyone would consider to be the business, but it also includes customer, partner, and other such external stakeholder relationships and their associated value streams. If some aspects of the business are outsourced, they need to be considered as well.

Concomitant with this ecosystem, business architecture includes the organisational structure, operating model as well as policy and governance. It includes capabilities—and I’ll add competencies and relative maturity—products, information, initiatives, and of course, metrics. All of these would be pointless without a strategy to align to.

all businesses—commercial entities—have similar needs irrespective of size

It’s important to remember that at their foundations, all businesses—commercial entities—have similar needs irrespective of size. Whether you are a sole proprietor or a multi-billion-dollar, pound, euro, or other currency denomination of value company, some core functions are necessary. Even if these roles end up scaling to entire departments, entities like customers, suppliers, sales, marketing, accounting, inventory, and so on are still necessary—even if your inventory is digital. Different industry verticals will have nuances across industries, but say, an insurance company of any scale still needs capabilities to account for policies, claims, and so on. How they operate and interoperate with other functions may differ. I do feel that it’s fair to say that each industry vertical should qualify to have its own architectural framework from which to start assessing capabilities and relative maturity.

In my experience, every company thinks it’s a unique snowflake. In practice, the Pareto principle applies. Operationally, they are about 80 per cent the same. Moreover, each department within a company sees itself as being unique with unique problems, but the Pareto principle applies here as well. This snowflake thinking reinforces a silo mentality.

In cross-functional workshops, perhaps a Design Thinking session, it will soon be apparent that a seemingly isolated problem has a solution that can be applied to several departments.

Strategy is a weak link in most organisations

Without an explicit strategy, a business architect has no orientation. Strategy is a weak link in most organisations I’ve been involved with. I’ve discussed this elsewhere. Absent a cogent strategy, the business architect should construct a proxy and at least establish guiding operating principles. These should be vetted and the appropriate executive should approve it, preferably the head of the company, whether the president, the CEO, or the sole proprietor.

In most cases, business architecture exists to facilitate transformation. This should already have a vision, a strategy, objectives, and a transformation roadmap. The role of the business architect is to ensure this transformation is activated. Part of this activation suggests creating business blueprints, and working to establish common vocabulary, standard frameworks, and shared knowledge so that everyone is working on the same page.

Since business architecture views the business holistically, one value proposition is that is helps to allocate attention and resources to the most valuable points in an organisation. All too often, one department happens to have funding available that would be better served elsewhere in the organisation.

I think I’ve said enough for this segment. I expect to be back to share more information and insights on the BIZBOK Guide. Meantime, I hope this has been informative and useful.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

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