business architecture

Building a business architecture

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Many of the IT jobs that are currently in high demand include the word “architect” in their titles (cloud architect, network architect, enterprise architect, etc.). These technical architects are responsible for designing, building, and maintaining computer networks, web-related systems, and other infrastructure for a variety of businesses and organizations. They analyze existing systems to look for ways to improve and to determine if there are gaps that need to be filled. These architects also ensure that IT and business strategies align so work can be completed quickly and efficiently.

The high demand for these types of jobs means that companies recognize the importance of having a solid framework to build on so they can manage complexity, improve processes, remain agile, and be scalable to meet future demands. 

There are many different types of interrelated and complementary IT architectures. This article focuses on business architecture. We’ll define what it is and how to design and implement a business architecture for your company.

What is business architecture?

When you talk about architecture in the IT industry, you are generally talking about structural concepts and logical organizations rather than the physical placement of computer systems. 

Like a blueprint for a physical building, IT architecture gives developers a visual overview of how networks and other computer systems are organized. For example, enterprise architecture shows the overarching framework of an entire enterprise which describes the logical organization of various domains, applications, data, hardware, and other resources.

Business architecture is a complementary part of enterprise architecture. Its focus is on business functions, processes, technology, and how it all connects and interacts with the enterprise architecture. It’s possible that you could have one business architecture that fits within your entire enterprise architecture. But most likely you will have different architectures for each business domain within the enterprise. For example, the business architecture defining processes, workflows, and procedures for the HR domain will probably be different from the business architecture used in the sales domain.

The whole idea behind business architecture is finding business solutions that solve current problems so you can align with and consistently deliver business strategies. 

The role of a business architect is to analyze current business models, structures, processes, strategies, and capabilities to determine where improvements can be made. The business architect works with senior management and other stakeholders to ensure that current and future business models and strategies align with corporate goals.

How do you build a business architecture?

Before you dive into developing a new business model and architecture, you should spend some time figuring out what your process will be. You’ll want to work with stakeholders, management, and developers to help you determine what you want the architecture to be, where you want it to go, and how you are going to get there. 

Use the following steps to drive a more successful business architecture design. As you work on these steps, consider using visuals such as charts, maps, and diagrams. Visuals are easier to look at and understand than text-heavy documents and invite collaboration among team members. Lucidchart has a ton of visual templates you can use to help you get started.

Step 1: Define your mission and vision 

Your mission is not to create the best business architecture in history. Instead, you should focus on solving business problems. Even the most beautifully crafted architecture is useless if it doesn’t address specific problems. For example, if the IT department is not aligned with business goals, that’s a problem that needs to be solved and defined in your mission.

When you know your mission, you can define your vision. Determine where you want the practice of business architecture to go, its potential for growth, and identify challenges you may face as you work toward your vision..

Step 2: Identify your stakeholders

You need to understand each stakeholder’s role in the process. Identify the investors, partners, decision makers, executives, consumers, downstream beneficiaries, and so on.

Step 3: Understand your company culture

The only constant in life is change, but most people are really resistant to change. To succeed, you have to understand company culture, its organizational structure, employee attitudes, management styles, and so on. Business architecture requires you to influence people to accept necessary changes. You will need to explain how and why these changes will help the company and the employees. If you don’t understand the culture, you could set yourself up for failure. 

Step 4: Identify your products and services

This is not simply a list of products and services you offer. For every product and service you should have detailed documentation that includes development procedures, templates and architecture details, processes and methods for updating applications, and so on. This information helps you to develop consistent products and serves as a baseline when it’s time to make improvements.

Step 5: Perform a skills assessment

You need to figure out who and what you have to work with. Consider using Lucidchart to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. A SWOT analysis is an easy way to help you determine which skills and resources can be leveraged right away. Additionally, it can help you to identify where you need to grow through more training or hiring new people.

Step 6: Look for partnership and collaboration opportunities

Look for partnership and collaboration opportunities. People who work on strategy, who have strong business relationships, who have the skills your team needs, who have worked on similar projects, and who can collaborate and share ideas can bring value to your business architecture project. People who have experience may be able to share work that you can leverage, which will save you time and help you smooth out any rough spots.

Step 7: Identify potential challenges

Everybody wants their projects to run perfectly as planned. But does that ever actually happen? A business architect needs to be able to plan for and work around potential challenges that might come up. For example, it might be a challenge to get buy-in from employees who are resistant to change. Acknowledging this challenge up front in the planning stages can help you to develop strategies that will help to ease them into the transition. Or maybe you choose to start with a business architecture project that has few changes or little impact on how employees currently do their jobs.

Step 8: Create an action plan

At this point you should have a good idea of what you want to accomplish and who some of the key players are. So now it’s time to develop a plan for building and implementing your business architecture. Your plan should include a defined timeline, measurable objectives, processes that will be used, resources needed, the specific actions you need to take, and the people you need to complete those actions so you can meet your objectives.

Make it visual

The following models can assist you in creating business architecture diagrams, charts, and plans that can give your team clarity and a better understanding of their roles and project progress.

  • Balanced scorecard: A strategy management performance tool that managers use to track, measure, and improve various business functions. 
  • Value chain: This model describes the activities needed to develop a specific product or service. It includes all of the steps involved in creating a product from initial conception and planning to distribution. This includes steps for getting raw materials, manufacturing procedures, marketing—any action taken during the development process.
  • Business motivation model: This is a modeling notation used to visually describe and support business decisions. It is basically a way for you to map out and explain why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • Customer journey map: Use this to visually tell the story of how your customers experience your products and brand. This type of map lets you analyze customer behavior and trends and helps you to identify customer pain points. This information can help you improve and personalize the customer experience. 

Lucidchart has many pre-built templates that will help you to create these types of visual models. Your Lucidchart documents are stored in the cloud, meaning that your teams can access them and collaborate on them in real time from anywhere in the world.

business architecture

Take the next steps to build your business architecture with a SWOT analysis.  

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Take the next steps to build your business architecture with a SWOT analysis. 

Try now

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