First of all I would like to wish all our Essential users a happy and prosperous 2013!
Everyone on the Essential Project Team is very excited about the forthcoming year and the plans that we have for adding to and improving Essential and the services we offer around it – but that is for another blog or maybe another section of the website – for now I wanted to talk about Business Architecture.
We’ve noticed a lot of discussion regarding business architecture at the moment, both in blogs and discussions and also in the traffic we see to the Essential Project; over the last two months five of our top ten page visits were to tutorials related to business architecture and the business architecture tutorial home page had three times as many visits as the application and technology tutorial home page and six times as many visits as the Info and data tutorials home page. Another interesting point is that this almost exactly mirrors the introduction to a blog I wrote 3 years ago, substituting business architecture for business capability modelling.
So there is evidently a huge desire within the EA community to focus on business architecture, which I think is great as EA isn’t really EA without the BA. It is imperative to understand the objectives, drivers and principles of your business if you are to be effective in your EA efforts. Without these, and the ability to demonstrate to your stakeholders how all your initiatives – IT or not – are supporting the business objectives and drivers, you are missing the potential to make a real difference to your organisation.
I think there are two important strands here. The first is in actually supporting key business stakeholders by providing them with specific targeted information which allows them to make informed decisions in a timely and effective manner. The nature of the information required will vary from stakeholder to stakeholder and organisation to organisation. The key, as an architect, is in understanding these needs and understanding the analysis that needs to be undertaken to inform the decision, thus understanding what information to give to your stakeholder. The second is in communicating how effective the business architecture, and ultimately the enterprise architecture, is in supporting the business using key performance metrics.
We are seeing many more of our clients bring activities that may have once been viewed as pertinent only to the application and technology layers into the business layer. Recent projects have involved us working with clients who are looking to understand, measure and report on the maturity of their business capabilities, benchmarking them against industry standards and internally desired maturity measures. We are also working with clients that want to identify standard processes that support business capabilities and to measure and report on their implementation and exceptions.
Another trend we have noticed is that EA Teams are becoming more aware of the need to communicate their success in supporting the business to key stakeholders, with an increase in the number of EA Teams that want to measure and report on the effectiveness of their operation providing, for example, quarterly dashboards tracking progress against strategic objectives.
Essential Architecture Manager has a large number of views that support the business architecture out of the box, from Business Reference Models that allow you to navigate through the layers of your reference model to understand the underlying architectures, to the Business Objective/Project Footprint that shows the footprint of current change against the business objectives defined, overlaid onto the capability model, to Business Roadmaps which show the progression of the architecture from the current to the future state. In addition, as the meta model is extensive, we have been able to quickly and easily create client specific dashboards enabling EA Teams to effectively report their progress.
We would be really interested in feedback from any members of the community outlining their current initiatives in the Business Architecture layer so we can further develop Essential and ensure that it continues to support the requirements of the community.