Business Architecture: What's In It For Business Analysts?

How can BAs ensure requirements are practical and in line with the strategy/capabilities of the business?

The business architecture offers a starting point.

Study after study shows that when CEOs discuss strategy, most employees don’t get it. When plans and the overarching vision don’t translate into actionable objectives, business performance deteriorates. Defined by the Business Architecture Working Group of the Object Management Group (OMG) as “a blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization,” business architecture is a sub-domain of enterprise architecture concerned with aligning business requirements and operations with strategic objectives.

Business architecture originated in the 1980s and developed into a cross-organizational discipline focusing on the business as a whole. It bridges the gap between the organization’s strategy on one side and business functionality on another side, aligning the organization and revealing how individual elements such as processes, information, and capabilities fit into the overall structure. As such, it provides a blueprint for the organization to the benefit of all stakeholders.

Benefits of Business Architecture

The benefits of business architecture are numerous, and they affect the organization at every level:

Paints the bigger picture

Business architecture offers a holistic view of the organization. This broader perspective empowers everyone within the organization to make informed decisions. It encourages employees to leverage existing capabilities across departments, rather than invest in building the same capabilities from scratch. Only when the entire organization functions as a single unit can it perform to its maximum potential.

Aligns strategy with functionality

Business architects ensure that the corporate business strategy is successfully translated into the organization’s operational strategy by establishing a framework of concepts for communicating the current capabilities, challenges, and future objectives.

Opens the door to new possibilities

When an organization achieves transparency and clarity regarding its processes and objectives, it allows stakeholders make better strategic decisions through business-centric road maps and funding models. New and more efficient ways of structuring the organization may be discovered, and existing capabilities can be used more efficiently.

Creates employee engagement

More informed employees are more engaged employees. Large organizations are plagued by employee detachment and lack of initiative. It’s only when employees understand how their work affects other departments and the organization as a whole that they can begin to take pride in their work.

Business Analysts & Business Architects: What’s the Connection?

While the two roles have completely different objectives, there is some common ground. Both professions stand to benefit from working collaboratively on business projects. BAs may explore careers in Business Architecture and vice-versa.

Business analysts have a strong knowledge of business operations and may have key information on the areas that can be improved or where there’s significant value to be added to business operations. This knowledge is particularly useful whenever improvements and opportunities recommended by the BA are in line with the strategy of the business. Requirements should therefore be in alignment with the business architecture and strategy of the organization.

In the same vein, business architects model snapshots of the business to understand its capabilities and how value can be delivered. Understanding how value can be delivered to a large extent, involves a solid knowledge of the business and extensive analysis - this is where business analysts come in. Business architecture processes facilitate the identification of opportunities that are linked to the capabilities of the business and are therefore more practical and realistic to implement. 

Business analysts stand to benefit from referring to the Business Architecture model and ensuring that requirements can be accommodated with existing resources. Errors and irrelevant requirements may also be identified during this mapping.

While projects are implemented through the creation and evaluation of the business architecture, Business analysts work on these projects to ensure successful implementation and go to an increased level of detail during project implementation while Business architects stay at a higher and more strategic level.

It is clear that both professions stand to benefit from one another. BAs looking for a career change can explore the business architecture path which involves thinking creatively and collaboratively to ensure the vision of the business is realized.