Business Architecture Pitfalls
Organizations even a decade back used to pursue Enterprise Architecture (EA) programs sporadically in an effort to bring some discipline to unmanageably growing IT efforts. Mostly limited to the IT boundaries, it was hardly stitched with the business fabric of the Enterprise. Today, EA as a discipline has evolved. It is now capable of providing a more complete representation of business, information, applications, and technology landscape of an Organization. Business Architecture, in the whole picture, is no less important than a strategic foundation for most Enterprise Architecture pursuits. And then it is challenging too. While embarking on a Business Architecture exercise it is imperative to select right set of standards, tools along with the right level of process ‘heaviness’ that an organization needs; and many other things.
Some of the most common challenges are:
- Strategy and Directional Issues: A classic case in point is embarking on Business Architecture development without developing an effective Business Strategy. Actually less than 30% of all organizations develop effective Business Strategy. Organizations should develop business strategy top down. Corporate executives should first review their vision and mission statements, understand the company’s core values, its key drivers and challenges in the context of the business environment they operate in. This analysis helps develop the strategic vision, producing a clear picture of the company's overall goal, which could be then used by the Business Architecture stream, and so to say, by an Enterprise Architecture pursuit.
- Methodology Issues: The second most important aspect of Business Architecture is balancing the depth vis-à-vis breadth. Many organizations embark on ambitious Business Architecture exercise and downstream change implementations without assessing their EA maturity levels and end up selecting Tools, Methodologies and Target Architectures inappropriate for their level of focus and maturity. This leads to architecture misalignment issues, suboptimal strategy execution and wasted resources, i.e., net-net, a long term value erosion. So the bottom line is that as EA maturity levels vary greatly among the organizations there is no one-size-fit-all approach possible here.
- Funding and Focus Issues: In another prevalent scenario, organizations underestimate the effort required in establishing a Business Architecture and fail to allocate adequate resources for such initiatives. Without sufficient resources for follow-through most promising initiatives would die on the vine, simply because marshaling the resources — people and funding — is too difficult. Business Architecture formalization efforts usually need a champion who would make the connections, build the architecture models, and ensure that the models are followed in practice — but in the absence of such visible resource allocation and efforts, the EA group should take on this role at the risk of diluting their attentions and draining the energies of their lead staff members.
- Governance Issues: The list of common pitfalls is not complete without mentioning about Architecture Governance challenges faced by most enterprises trying to sort out Business Architecture. This point is more appropriately applicable for Enterprise Architecture practice. However, in the Business Architecture Contexts also it is fairly important. In order to effectively depict the Business Architecture and manage the implications to the IT element, the so called Information Systems Architecture, an effective Governance structure needs to be in place. Key areas under the umbrella of Architecture Governance are:
- Identifying key stakeholders, their roles, responsibilities, authorities and reporting structure for executing Business Architecture and, more appropriately, Enterprise Architecture development efforts.
- Investing in tools and standards for Business Architecture.
- The last but not the least in this list is how one should measure the impact of the Business Architecture efforts. There should be measurable, tangible outcomes that would help gauge the effectiveness of the outputs. The key questions to be asked in this parlance are:
- What are the measurement criteria for gauging the success of the BA exercise?
- Does the BA have desired coverage, correctness and the level of detail?
- Does the output of the BA exercise provide sufficient information for the dependent disciplines to act upon?
Another very common trend is to treat Business Architecture as a one-off strategic exercise without the necessary governance backbone to help the rest of the enterprise continually align to it.
- EA Metrics: Getting a Grip on the Business Value by Gartner
- Building Value through Enterprise Architecture, A Global Study by booz&co.