Enterprise & Business Architecture — Why bother?.
Posted on 19/05/20 in
The business case for applying Enterprise and Business Architecture to organisations is often misunderstood or not articulated in a way that a “return on investment” is tangible to those who hold the purse strings. I have pulled together a quick guide to where I see some of the key tangible benefits that support the case for its use and continued investment.
Before starting down the route of defining the benefits, I should be clear on my perspective of Enterprise and Business Architecture. Put succinctly, it is the representation of an organisations operating model that can demonstrate the connectivity between the layers with the business from the Customers, the Services they use, right the way through to the infrastructure and system layers. These can be represented through different lenses and allow “key performance indicators” to be allocated to the different layers to support and assess the management of the business.
Architectures need to:
- Evolve and be maintained to be effective
- Be created at the right level so that they are consumable (not too granular that they are difficult to consume and not too high-level that they are meaningless)
- Create the common language within the Enterprise
- Have defined and understood boundaries
- Be proportionate to the size & complexity of the organisation
Below, I have represented some of the key features and provide the rationale to support the benefit of having an Enterprise and Business Architecture in an organisation.
A common language used across an organisation means that you can step away from confusion and cross-wires, it de-risks by providing a common understanding. This is powerful in terms of preventing potential failure downstream when making a change.
Distilling a view of an organisation allows you to view your value chain in the business and understand whether there are:
- Opportunities to improve the Value Chain
- Manage risk to prevent disruption to the Value Chain
- Identify non-Value add activity within the organisation
Change Impact Analysis
Having a common lens of the business allows for a common way to identify and impact change, understanding quickly:
- Identifying what it means to your customers and your people
- Where the risks may exist
- Identifying potential synergy with other changes
As the architecture lens evolves, it provides the opportunity to assess the performance and maturity of different capabilities within an organisation. This provides a chance to benchmark where your organisation capability is and position where you may need to develop.
By understanding how information flows around an organisation, it allows for an understanding as to:
- How does it support better outcomes for your customers?
- Is it providing the right information for to make informed decisions about the organisation
- What are the potential failure points in the information flows?
- Is there duplication in the flow of information?
Organisations grow ever more complex overtime. This drives the need to build strategies and identify and create the right solution to deliver those strategies. The Architecture views provide the lens onto supporting that definition and allows the support of the design of changes required to support the strategy.
Decision Making & Business Performance
The combination of the different views provides the context around future changes, current problems and performance of the organisation. When designed in the right way, the blueprint of the business and operating models can allow for the decision makers to make informed decisions around the consequences of the starting, stopping or changing of an initiative.
Product/Change Road Map & Change Prioritisation
The use of the Architecture to create Product and Change Road Maps through pulling together the As Is and To Be states. Understanding effective transition states and where temporary capabilities may need to be deployed to move between Transition states and implement change. This in turn supports the prioritisation process.
Having architecture and the additional governance that sits around it allows for quality detailed design to be done within the boundaries and principles of the organisation. The architecture provides the designer with the blueprint to start from, and breeds consistency throughout the process.
To give an example on how much time can be saved, having established a Business Architecture framework, I have been able to reduce high-level impact analysis to less than 48 hours, where in the past it had taken over a month. It also provided a consistent view of each layer in the business so it meant decisions were made quicker by stakeholders and less time was spent on initiative analysis.
Business Architecture tools and techniques can be applied at different levels of an organisation to achieve benefits, even at a divisional level of a change Programme. You do not need mass adoption in the wider Enterprise at outset. You can demonstrate value on a small scale and organically grow the capability.