Business architecture

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Example of the NIH IT Enterprise Architecture Framework, where the Business architecture is pictured as part of the enterprise architecture.

A business architecture is a part of an enterprise architecture related to corporate business, and the documents and diagrams that describe the architectural structure of that business. People who build business architecture are known as business architects.

Business architecture is the bridge between the enterprise business model and enterprise strategy on one side, and the business functionality of the enterprise on the other side.


The term "business architecture" has many meanings. The term may refer to an architectural description of an enterprise or a business unit, an architectural model or the profession itself. A formal definition of the first meaning is defined by the Object Management Group's Business Architecture Working Group as follows:

"A blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization and is used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands." [1]

According to the OMG, a blueprint of this type describes the structure of the enterprise in terms of its governance structure, processes, and information. As such, the profession of Business Architecture primarily focuses on the motivations, operations and analysis frameworks that link these aspects of the enterprise together.

Business Architecture is not consistently described in published literature. According to Poulin, a blueprint of the enterprise articulates the functional structure of a enterprise in terms of its business services and business information.[2] This view is substantially different in omitting governance and capabilities from the scope of these models.

One of the major outcomes of Business Architecture is a set of business capability models. In this context, a business capability is the ability to perform certain business functionality and deliver business results or values under certain circumstances. The business capability encapsulates "what" the organization does while thebusiness processes implement business functionality and define "how" the organization delivers its capabilities. In short, a business capability is what the business can do; it is considered "defined" when its business functionality is identified and implementation resources are planned or reserved. The resources may be owned by the company or leased from external providers.

By following the lines of accountability (governance) and articulating business information, the business architecture considers all internal and external actors to an enterprise (including its customers, suppliers, and regulators). Value flows along these lines, and business architecture attempts to enumerate and describe these flows of value. Overall the subject of pragmatic Business Architecture is defined in line with OASIS Reference Architecture Foundation for SOA.

Business architecture topics[edit]

Different views of an organization[edit]

In order to develop an integrated view of an enterprise, many different views of an organization are typically developed. Each "view" is typically a diagram that illustrates a way of understanding the enterprise by highlighting specific information about it. The key views of the enterprise that may be provided by business architecture address[3] several aspects of the enterprise; they may be summarized as the followings:

  • The Business Strategy view captures the tactical and strategic goals that drive an organization forward. The goals are decomposed into various tactical approaches for achieving these goals and for providing traceability through the organization. These tactical and strategic goals are mapped to metrics that provide ongoing evaluation of how successfully the organization is achieving its goals.
  • The Business Capabilities view describes the primary business functions of an enterprise and the pieces of the organization that perform those functions. This view further distinguishes between customer-facing functions, supplier-related functions, business execution, and business management functions.
  • The Value stream view defines the set the end-to-end set of activities that deliver value to external and internal stakeholders – transcending organizational boundaries. Value streams are the vehicle for viewing the business “in motion” and are the key aspect of business architecture that enables alignment of business processes with the business architecture
  • The Business Knowledge view establishes the shared semantics (e.g., customer, order, and supplier) within an organization and relationships between those semantics (e.g., customer name, order date, supplier name). These semantics form the vocabulary that the organization relies upon to communicate and structure the understanding of the areas they operate within.
  • The Organizational view captures the relationships among roles, capabilities and business units, the decomposition of those business units into subunits, and the internal or external management of those units.

In addition to the above views of the enterprise, the relationships connect the aforementioned views form the foundation of the business architecture implementation. This foundation provides the framework that supports the achievement of key goals; planning and execution of various business scenarios; and delivery of bottom line business value.[3]

Disciplined approach[edit]

Business Architecture is a disciplined approach to realise business models and to serve as a business foundation of the enterprise to enhance accountability and improve decision-making.

Business Architecture's value proposition, unlike other disciplines is to increase functional effectiveness by mapping and modeling the business to the organization's business vision and strategic goals.

  • Mapping identifies gaps between the current architectural state and target state, which affects underlying services, processes, people, and tools.
  • Modeling discovers business requirements in the area of interest including stakeholders, business entities and their relationships, and business integration points.

Business Strategy[edit]

Business Architecture directly realizes business strategy. It is the foundation for subsequent architectures (strategy embedding), where it is detailed into various aspects and disciplines. The business strategy can consist of elements like strategy statements, organizational goals and objectives, generic business models, etc. The strategic statements are analyzed and arranged hierarchically, through techniques like qualitative hierarchical cluster analysis. Based on this hierarchy the initial business architecture is realized, using general organizational structuring methods and business administration theory, like theories on assets and resources and theories on structuring economic activity. Based on the business architecture the construction of the organization takes shape (figure 1: strategy embedding). During the strategy formulation phase and as a result of the design of the business architecture, the business strategy gets better formulated and understood as well as made more internally consistent.

The business architecture forms a significantly better basis for subsequent architectures than the separate statements themselves. The business architecture gives direction to organizational aspects, such as the organizational structuring (in which the responsibilities of the business domains are assigned to individuals/business units in the organization chart or where a new organization chart is drawn) and the administrative organization (describing for instance the financial reconciliation mechanisms between business domains). Assigning the various business domains to their owners (managers) also helps the further development of other architectures, because now the managers of these domains can be involved with a specific assigned responsibility. This leads to increased involvement of top-level managers by making them domain-owners and well aware of their role. Detailed portions of business domains can be developed based on the effort and support of the domain-owners involved. Business architecture therefore is a very helpful pre-structuring device for the development, acceptance and implementation of subsequent architectures.

The perspectives on the design of subsequent architectures are more common: Information Technology Architecture and technical architecture. The various parts (functions, features and concepts) of the business architecture act as a compulsory starting point for the different subsequent architectures. Business architecture models shed light on the scantily elaborated relationships between business strategy and business design and organization throughout the enterprise.

Approaches and frameworks for business architecture[edit]

Zachman Framework[edit]

Rows 1 & 2 of the Zachman Framework deal with Business Architecture discipline.

The Object Management Group[edit]

Modeling standards of the Object Management Group (OMG), including the Unified Modeling Language (UML), Model Driven Architecture (MDA), Business Motivation Model (BMM), Semantics of Business Vocabulary and Rules (SBVR) and the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), enable powerful visual design, execution and maintenance of software and other processes, including IT Systems Modeling and Business Process Management.

The OMG established the Business Architecture Working Group[4] (BAWG) in December 2007 to pursue the development of standards to support the Business Architecture community. The group has begun an effort to catalog business scenarios and to capture a library of business techniques that will be used to isolate and prioritize areas of work. This initiative has as a key part of its mission the interlinking and unification of existing standards to accommodate the demands for integrated end-to-end business analytics.

The BAWG conducts periodic Business Architecture Information Days at the OMG's quarterly Technical Meeting as part of an outreach effort to bring interested practitioner and vendor organizations into the standards process.

The BAWG Modeling Workgroup is currently working to develop a standard framework for business architecture that is aligned with the Business Architecture Guild[5] Business Architecture Body of Knowledge Handbook.

The Business Architecture Guild[edit]

Founded in late 2010, the Guild opened up membership in the fall of 2011 based on the initial release of the Business Architecture Body of Knowledge Handbook (BIZBOK™). BIZBOK™ 1.0, delivered in skeletal form on August 21, 2011, [6] has garnered significant industry attention. With the release of version 2.0 of the BIZBOK™ on January 27, 2012 the Business Architecture Guild delivered the first complete set of writings covering the outline delivered as part of the organization's initial vision. Publication of BIZBOK™ 3.0 is tentatively scheduled for November, 2012. A preliminary outline of the contents has been publicly posted.[7]

The primary purpose of the Business Architecture Guild [5] is “to promote best practices and expand the knowledgebase of the business architecture discipline." The Guild is a not for profit, international membership organization for practitioners and others interested in the developing the field of business architecture. With members on six continents, a strong Advisory Board and a growing number of business partners, the Guild will continue to serve as a focal point for the evolving practices and disciplines of business architecture.”

The Open Group[edit]

The Open Group Architecture Framework of the The Open Group is a community-based standards effort for describing methods and tools used by architecture. It is being developed and continuously improved by the Open Group, a consortium of interested individuals and companies involved in information technology.

The TOGAF framework includes “Business Architecture” as one of the four "domains" of architecture. The other three domains are Application Architecture, Data Architecture and Technology Architecture. TOGAF describes business architecture as follows: "Business Architecture describes the product and/or service strategy, and the organizational, functional, process, information, and geographic aspects of the business environment.",[8]

TOGAF describes a nine-step process in the Business Architecture phase:

  • Select Reference Models, Viewpoints, and Tools
  • Develop Baseline Business Architecture Description
  • Develop Target Business Architecture Description
  • Perform Gap Analysis
  • Define Candidate Roadmap Components
  • Resolve Impacts Across the Architecture Landscape
  • Conduct Formal Stakeholder Review
  • Finalize the Business Architecture
  • Create Architecture Definition Document

Industry reference models[edit]

Industry reference models are frameworks or models that provide a best practice off-the-shelf set of structures, processes, activities, knowledge and skills.

  • The enhanced Telecom Operations Map (eTOM), published by the TM Forum, describes the full scope of business processes required by a service provider in the telecommunications industry, and defines key elements and how they interact.

SOMF Business Architecture Modeling[edit]

  • Service-oriented modeling framework (SOMF), introduces an enterprise business architecture framework, which includes a modeling language [9] and diagrams to depict contextual and structural business components for business integration.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Whelan, J.; Meaden, G. (2012). "Business Architecture: A practical guide". Ashgate. ISBN 978-1-4094-3859-5. 
  • Versteeg, G.; Bouwman, H. (2006). "Business Architecture: A new paradigm to relate business strategy to ICT". Information Systems Frontiers 8 (2): 91–102. doi:10.1007/s10796-006-7973-z. 
  • Ulrich, William; McWhorter, Neal (2010). Business Architecture: The Art and Practice of Business Transformation. Megan-Kiffer Press. ISBN 0-929652-15-0. 
  • Lynch, Richard (2003). The Capable Company: Building the capabilities that make strategy work. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-1182-9. 
  • Knaepen, Koen; Brooms, Didier (2013). A Complete and Consistent Business: Introduction to the COSTA model for Business Architects. Lannoo Campus. ISBN 978-94-014-0945-2. 
  • Smith, Kevin; Graves, Tom (2011). An Introduction to PEAF: Pragmatic Enterprise Architecture Framework. Pragmatic EA, LTD. ISBN 978-1908424013. 
  • Whittle, Ralph; Myrick, Conrad (2004). Enterprise Business Architecture: The Formal Link between Strategy and Results. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0849327889. 
  • Ross, Jeanne; Weill, Peter; Robertson, David C. (2006). Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution. Harvard Business Review Press. ISBN 978-1591398394.