No Need to Sell Business Architecture to Executives

2015

Currently, there is a lot of discussions in the industries about Enterprise Architecture (EA) and Business Architecture (BA). An Enterprise Architecture rooting from IT is fairly denied by the corporate business as not competitive yet. However, we know multiple cases where IT Enterprise Architects (EAs) were held aside from the business concerns of the company deliberately. This is the matter of competition and job security in the significant part; the same relates to Business Architects (BAs) in the corporate business (CB).

I was watching these debates for a while already and have even contributed my 2p into it (see my posts on LinkedIn and a book “Architects Know What Managers Don’t”). What a common ‘issue’ I see in all approaches is that all enthusiasts talk about a great value that BA has and how to sell CxO and other top business managers on BA. It appears like BA is something that people (EAs or BAs) have created somehow and now want to insert into the corporate world. A natural question comes up: what for? Is it in order to ‘sit on’ it and manage it?

The BA promoters, in the best case, say something like, “Our company has these tasks or problems, and the BA will help us to solve them.” Well, business executives and top managers operate with needs, not with tasks (they define tasks to others by themselves) and they definitely do not want to hear from other people, especially who are lower than they on the corporate ladder, about the company’s problems. Moreover, even if executives are aware of the problems, they might want to leave them for themselves and get rewards for leading the solutions. So, why they need BAs?

We, not executives, can create impeccable principles of BA, write books and ‘BIZBOOKs” of hundred pages and run conferences for thousand delegates, but until we answer a simple ‘interview’ question – “Tell me why our company needs you” (meaning ‘we are fine without you’), nothing will cardinally change.

I am looking for people, who think differently than above; I’d like to formulate such Business Architecture that is an organic part of existing company and capable to protect company’s business and its strategic interests in the market journey. My fundamental idea of Business Architecture is that BA existed since the first exchange of goods in the human history; that BA has existed in each business organisation since the moment of defining Enterprise Business Model on paper when creating a company. However, not every company had, has and will have the explicit BA and BAs, it may be fine with implicit BA and BAs. A business cannot exist without its architecture (as any system) and the questions are only what is it, where is it and who conducts it.

An evolution of BA is straightforward: in small and medium size enterprises (SME), the business is relatively simple and suitable for a human observation, including its current state, directions or perspectives and risks. So, all these knowledge and concerns are on the shoulders of the corporate executives and senior management. They do the role of Business Architects in conjunction with the corporate management. The more an enterprise grows, the more difficult it becomes to combine architectural and organisational concerns in a few heads.

Some businesses miss the point of rational separation of concerns and duties; they delegate crucial enterprise-wide architectural decision to individual Heads and VPs who now are responsible for the delivery of significant in size and complexity business tasks/ products/services, i.e. they have their own interests. Due to a human nature, It is not that obvious whose interests would prevail in the heads of managers – their own or the corporate’s ones.

In other businesses, smart CxO simply delegate a part of their work – an architecture of CB – to the dedicated people named BAs. In other words, a BA is what CxO did before and now professional people next to CxO are supposed to do for the benefits of the enterprise as a whole, not for this or that business division. That is, Business Architecture function is a derivative from the CxO work. BA is a cross-functional cross-divisional corporate function. I believe that it is quite logical that BAs inherit not only architectural responsibilities, but also the architectural right that CxO applied before. That is, the BAs now say what business should do to transit to the strategic goals and objectives while the latter are set by the CxO and other executives in this new separation of roles.

There is nobody that the BAs “have” to advice to on what to do for the strategic transition – this is the job of BAs; the CxO concern now with the business strategy while the BAs help them in this work as well. The rest of business management does the same as before – provides the delivery of business activities aimed at obtaining the revenue and profit, where applicable. These managers continue deciding on how to do the architected work. The BA becomes responsible for the functional and the informational behaviour of the company in the market while the business management still leads resources, products and satisfaction of consumer demand.

Thus, I have explained the genesis, role, duties and position of BA in an enterprise, though with no details, which I would like to discuss ‘off-line’. All aforementioned explanations relate to any industry and business of any size and specialisation. This simple and straightforward concept is suitable for the growth and sustainability of an enterprise in the dynamic market where business changes grow like a snowball.

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