Business Modelling

The Business Layer of the Essential Meta Model is where elements related to people, processes and places are managed. This tutorial introduces the Business Layer and gives an overview of the main constructs available for modelling Business Architecture.

As with the other layers of the core meta model, the Business Layer is split into the following views:

  • Conceptual - where we define the ‘what’. In business terms, this means ‘what’ is the business, i.e what are the objectives of the business and what is needed to fulfil these objectives. It will describe the high level operating model and comprise elements from the Business Domains and Business Capabilities through to the Principles that will govern the business. The ‘what’ is necessary to understand what is important to your business and is separate from ‘how’ it is done. You will find, for example, that your business capabilities are fairly static, as they define what needs to be done, whereas your processes, which define how things will be done, will constantly evolve.

    • Example: the Sales Management capability (what) may be supported by a number of different processes (how) which will change and evolve to support different customer types, for example, Shop Sales, Telephone Sales, Internet Sales and so on.

  • Logical - where we define the ‘how’. In business terms this is the lower level abstraction of ‘how’ the ‘what’ will be achieved and will consist of things such as the processes that will be performed and the roles that will be required in the organization.

  • Physical - The physical is the actual implementation or deployment. In business terms this provides additional detail such as where the processes take place and who - individuals or teams - perform them.

Business Layer Overview

The major constructs for capturing Business Architecture elements are shown in the above diagram. The following definitions describe and provide some examples of each construct.

Conceptual Layer

  • Business Objective - Can be classified as a strategic business goal or a business objective for an enterprise. Objectives can be linked to Service Qualities and Service Quality Values to define target measures, i.e. Responsiveness – 24 hours

    • Example - 'We will provide the best customer service in our field.'

  • Business Principle - High level rules that govern the manner in which business capabilities are delivered by the enterprise and provide the context for designing and defining how these capabilities will be realised.

    • Example - Quality will not be sacrificed by cost efficiency.

  • Business Domain - This is the top-level construct in the Business Architecture. It provides a means of categorising the business related elements independently of the context in which it is applied. In other words the main groupings of the business, not necessarily the organisational functions. e.g., Invoicing belongs to the Finance domain but may appear in the Sales Order process.

    • Example - Sales and Marketing, Operations, Customer Services, Finance, HR, IT, Business Control, Trading and Order Management.

  • Business Capability- Business Capabilities are used to model the capabilities of a business or enterprise. Capabilities represent what the business does (or needs to do) in order to fulfil its objectives and responsibilities.

    • Examples - Sales Management, Business Strategy Development, Operations Management, Product Management, New Business Development

Tip Business Capabilities should be named Noun/Verb, i.e. Credit Management. Business Processes should be named Verb/Noun, i.e. Manage Credit

Tip A good test that your business capability model is at the right level is that it should be broadly applicable to any of your competitors, for this reason, you can often search out a standard model and tailor it to your needs. Have a look at our capability downloads on this page to see if you can use one as a starting point. This broad applicability is important when you start to look at opportunities such as M&A, as you have a common vocabulary against which to map potential acquisitions/partners, or in strategy work, e.g. when you are looking for blue ocean in a strategy canvas.

Logical Layer

  • Business Role - Business Role is made up of Individual and Group Business Roles. They are used to represent the design of the organisation in terms of the roles that are required and how they are related. Business Roles are groups, departments, teams or job roles within the enterprise, representing many levels of granularity as to how the processes are performed.

    • Individual Role Example - Depot Manager, Packer, Returns Manager, Broker
    • Group Role Example - Depot Team, Postal Service, Front Office Team, Global HR Team, Local Office

  • Business Process - The Business Process represents a specification or design of how a process should be performed. A Business Process must follow the same specification; if the specification or the flow is different a unique process must be created. Business Process, Business Activity and Business Task represent different levels of granularity. A Business Process can have an associated flow, or just a definition that allows us to understand how applications support it and information is used by it.

    • Example - Approve Orders, Dispatch by Courier, Dispatch by Postal Service, Fee Billing - UK, Fee Billing - Asia.

Tip Business Processes should be named Verb/Noun, i.e. Manage Credit. Business Capabilities should be named Noun/Verb, i.e. Credit Management.

  • Business Process Family - allows grouping of similar Business Processes to enable understanding of where processes are performed differently across the organization; this may be due to, for example, regulatory reasons or just a proliferation of non-standard processes.

    • Example – The Business Process Family ‘Payroll” might contain a number of logical payroll processes that are performed differently, ie Manage Payroll, Manage Payroll – UK

Tip Using the Business Process Family class allows you to easily see where you have many non-standard processes. Resolving these is the first step towards process automation and the associated savings.

  • Site Category - a type of location, where business processes are performed, that allows classification of sites

    • Examples - Factory, Office, Data Centre

    Tip In Essential, you don't always need business process flows to be defined. For a lot of enterprise architecture work a simple process name, from which you can associate things, e.g. applications, is good enough. Only get into flows if it's useful to do so, e.g. if you are looking at process automation, and only do it for those areas of interest, don't do flows for everything unless you really have to.

Physical Layer

  • Actor - Actor may be either an Individual Actor or a Group Actor. It can be a named group, team or individual that performs a role within a process. An actor can perform more than one business role. Note that in the case of an Individual Actor, where the actual name of the individual is not known, a more abstract name can be given (e.g. HQ Office Manager)
    • Individual Actor Examples - London Depot Manager, Newcastle Depot Manager, John Smith
    • Group Actor Examples - London Broking Team, Newcastle Picking Team, London Portfolio Services Team, HR

Tip As a rule you don't want to capture too many individuals as they tend to change frequently, however, they are really useful for understanding ownership and ensuring that your information is kept up to date, for example, you may task your application owners with ensuring that they review and update their applications monthly.

Tip If you do decide to have lots of individuals in Essential, try and agree a process with HR for leavers and joiners to be sent to you on a regular (monthly) basis, either as a spreadsheet or, even better, integrate Essential with your system that generates the leavers/joiners list. This prevents you repository data getting stale.

  • Site - a specific, named physical location where processes or activities take place. A Site can be mapped to one or more Site Categories, i.e. it may be a warehouse and an office, or just a warehouse. Sites can also contain other sub-sites, enabling the capture of specific locations within a particular site.

    • Example - London Warehouse, Newcastle Warehouse, Warrington Warehouse, City Headquarters, Room 300 in London Head Office

  • Physical Process - The Physical process is an instance of a process (that you will have defined in the Logical view) performed by a group or individual, optionally playing a particular Role. Two Physical Processes only implement the same Business Process if the steps that they perform are the same. If the steps performed in two Physical Processes are different, then they must be mapped to two different logical Business Processes.

    • Example - London Depot Team as Depot Team performing Pick by Order and Deliver by Courier; Newcastle Depot Team as Depot Team performing Pick by Item and Deliver by Postal Service; London Broking Team performing Create Client Quote

    Don't worry if those physical process names look long, Essential generates all that for you