Business Architecture: Defining the Business First, IT second

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

In the IT world, architecture defines system functions, structure, and behavior. It captures the business processes, rules, conventions, and standards that are part of the completed system. This model is the equivalent of blueprints on a construction project. This same concept works in business architecture.

What is business architecture?

The business architecture is a natural extension of a company’s strategy. The strategy is the concept; the architecture is the working design of how the company will look in the future. It also does the following:

  • captures all the functions and processes of the business.
  • defines the conventions and standards of the business.
  • outlines the structure and behavior of the business.

What does business architecture have to do with IT?

Business architecture provides a map for what the company wants to happen once they put a particular strategy into play. Without that map, there is no clear guidance.

Today, executives look to IT to drive the changes needed to make a business strategy work with no guidelines on how the company will function during and after the change. The results are usually not what the executive team had in mind. This leaves IT holding the bag for not meeting the executive team’s vision and for bringing in a new system that disrupted the company.

Business architecture fills the gap between business strategy and operational changes. It defines the future state of the business. It gives all business segments, including IT, a map of how the business will move from current state to the planned future state.

What is IT’s role in business architecture?

The smart CIO or IT executive leads the way with business architecture. When the executive team comes up with a new strategy, the CIO needs to grab the initiative to introduce and use business architecture to define the changes needed. To make this happen, the CIO will need to do the following:

  • Get the blessing of the CEO (at the very least).
  • Put together a cross-functional team to define the new business strategy.
  • Take the time to educate the executive team on how business architecture works and how it will benefit the company.
  • Realize that the first time around, it pays to be patient.

IT executives need to take the initiative to fill that gap between strategy and system change. By bringing in business architecture and getting executive team agreement, the company will reap the benefits in faster implementation and cleaner results.