What Does Target Business Architecture Really Mean

Any of us who has gone through TOGAF material has read the ADM Phase B which is Business Architecture. In the TOGAF documentation this phase is described as

"Business Architecture describes the development of a Business Architecture to support an agreed Architecture Vision"

In simple terms we model the existing Business Architecture, we plan for the future i.e. design the Target Business Architecture and do a Gap Analysis. In the future phases of the ADM we do a transition plan to move from the exsiting to target business architectures. The TOGAF guys will hate me for taking this in such a simple way, however the principle is as simple as this and in fact this is the way we operate as IT Architects. Our role is being change agents to improve the way IT works for better business outcomes.

Before going forward, I have a simple question:

"While working on an Enterprise Architecture project, have you thought about what "Designing the Target Business Architecture" means?"

Let me give you again a simple answer (as you might have understood by now that I like simplicity as "unnecessary complexity is the mother of all evil". Number 1 task of an IT Architect is to eliminate the unnnecessary complexity in solutions. Deciding on what is necessary and what is unnecessary is a more of an art rather than a science. What makes us good IT architects is our capability to define the "necessary complexities")

Designing the Target State Business Architecture in reality means deciding on how the enterprise does business. As an IT Architect we need put ourselves in the shoes of the CEO and make decisions on how the business will work, what are the strategies, how is the enterprise operated, what are the tactics, etc... etc... 

Should Enterprise Architecture be responsible for defining how the organization does business, probably not.  

Should Enterprise Architecture not care about the business architecture and concentrate on IT, definitely not.

So what shall we do? Here's an approach I would like introduce:

  • Conduct a Business Capability Assesment (Microsoft Services Business Architecture, MSBA is very good tool). A Business Capability based approach is very important and let's us concentrate on what the organization should do rather than how it does. Most of the existing processes could be suboptimal while the business capability may be very critical for the organization. Clive Finkelstein explains this as still running our business using the processes that come back from the industrial age which are based on collecting and disseminating information using hardcopy forms. We are just converting the hardcopy forms to eForms but not optimizing the processes. There's a tremendous room for growth by completely changing the processes, i.e. the way we deliver the business capabilities by using the technological advances provided to us by the new IT systems i.e. adapting the processes to the information age principles.
  • Current State Business Architecture is the organizations' existing business processes, i.e. how the business capabilities are being delivered. Using MSBA we create a "Heat Map" that shows us the two dimensions, which business capabilities are crucial for the organization (a definition of how to measure this could be is this capability a differentiator for the organization, if they deliver this capability very well will their stock price increase) and how does the current business processes perform.
  • Easy until now right, we didn't redesign any business process, we didn't have any discussions with the CxO's and had to talk in different language which we don't understand (I personally don't like to discuss the Hurdle Rate)? This step is very important. Most organizations, at least the ones which are large enough to consider an enteprise architecture engagement, have a very good idea on where they are heading, they have clear business strategies and an operation plan to execute these strategies. In this step you need to do a Strategy Workshop to understand where the business is targetting, hence get the "Target State Business Architecture" from the Business Designers and map them to Business Capabilities. An Enterprise Architect has two important roles in this exercise. First is to get the Business Targets and document the Target Business Architecture based on the input from the business. Second to introduce ideas on how IT can help in optimizing the business process and what needs to be changed and work with the business owners to get their organization's approval and be part of the change management process. A very solid methodology is introduced and practiced by Clive Finkelstein where he starts the Enterprise Architecture Project from Business Motivation, Row 1 Column 6 of Zachman Framework. I highly recommend reading the first four chapters of his book which explains in great details on how this is done, he calls this Strategy Analysis and has a very well structured engagement model with well defined deliverables and timing. The activity starts with background research of the company business plan, a multi day workshop with all managers in the room and a report generation phase where a blueprint document is created and presented.
  • Now it's easy we have the Current and Target State Business Architectures we do Gap Analysis and move forward with the implementation.

My experience shows that an Enterprise Architecture project can serve a lot in optimizing the business processes and guiding them on how IT can change the way they make business and even introduce new way of implementing business capabilities which were not possible before.

As Enterprise Architects our role is to convince the business owners to think of IT as part of the Growth Strategy, not as part of Operations Excellence where IT is seen as a cost center and is managed to reduce cost and minimize risk.