The Business Analyst and Business Architecture (postscript to the series)

My posts up to now have been around roles played on a project, but a recent comment from a fellow BA referred to Business Architecture and the participation of BA’s in that endeavor.  If your work as a BA involves using models to describe the business in order to elicit requirements, you can think of Business Architecture in at least a couple of ways.

 1)      It would be great if the models produced in projects could be integrated in some way to produce an overall model of the business.


2)      It would be great if an overall model of the business could be developed at some high level of abstraction that could be used as a starting point when detailing the business during a project for requirements.

 Of course, there is a whole discipline and set of practices and wider benefits for Business Architecture than I describe (also known as or part of Enterprise Architecture). I know because I have bumped into it and worked around its edges at various times. My view in is still from an information systems view, which I gather is a limited view, as Business Architecture proponents want it to be about the business as a whole, not just IS/IT. I understand that, but when I pay attention to it in media and blogs, it seems that getting Business Architecture implemented outside of IT has been a hard sell.

 My initial introduction to any kind of Architecture was 20 years ago with Information Engineering, the Methodology and the CASE tools that supported it. IEM was all about enterprise-wide scope, and the definition of an Information Architecture, followed by a Business Systems Architecture and a Technical Architecture. Its basic premise was the “Information = Data + Process”, so its focus was on those areas.

 At some point after that, I then learned about the Zachman Framework, which took Data (What) and Process (How), and added Network (Where), and later added Org/People (Who), Events (When) and Policies/Rules (Why). Mr. Zachman also had levels of detail rows for each component, from Scope though Business views down to executables. (See if you need more information on the Framework. )

 To me as a BA, the Framework was and is about organizing the models you can use to describe a business, especially in the higher rows. He specifically did not say which models to use, that was not his goal. (A great book on using models in the framework is “Requirements Analysis: From Business Views to Architecture” by David C. Hay.)

 So, the idea of Architecture has been with me for a long time, and I would love to have worked in the area, but I have only seen infrequent and limited attempts to develop actual Architectures for an organization. It takes time and effort, involving the most knowledgeable business people, but produces no immediate result of measurable value to a business manager; that’s a hard sell to management people who want their projects done ASAP to produce revenue or cut cost that will show up in the bottom line of the next annual report. So, it is something I have not seen up close. A web search for ‘Enterprise Architecture success stories’ returns a lot of hits, but they seem to be IT/technical in nature; a search for “Business Architecture success stories” returns links to vendors who sell business architecture consulting and blogs about business architecture, but nothing on actual implementations.

 Maybe I need to look harder, but if you the Reader have Business Architecture successes you can tell us about, I would love to hear them.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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