The Role of the Business Architect

Business architecture is the discipline concerned with developing and maintaining business capabilities of the enterprise in line with the corporate strategy as well as contributing to the business strategy and plans.  The larger an organization the more important the role of the business architect. But even at small scale this role is critical because it facilitates resilience over time.

In FLEX the business architect has the critical role of determining how a new MBI will affect existing capabilities. When an MBI is being considered, the cost of the MBI is not merely what it will take to realize the value espoused in it, it must also include all work to ensure that its implementation does not adversely affect any other functionality.

A business architect is responsible for:

  • providing an overview of the capabilities of the organization.
  • describing the strategy of the organization, managing the process of identifying opportunities, threats and limitations of the organization and to provide insights of the required work to facilitate implementation
  • Align capabilities to strategy. And ensure that new capabilities do not adversely affect existing ones.
  • Guide investment and ensure new work is consistent with the investment strategy of the organization
  • improve decision making on what to work on by ensure all costs to manifest value are understood

The Guardrails for the Business Architect

The guardrails are our agreements with each other across the enterprise. However, each role usually manifests these in a different manner. The following is what the guardrails mean for a business architect.

Work on items that will realize the greatest amount of Business value across the enterprise

The business architect’s role is to ensure that any impact working on those MBIs at the top of the list do not adversely affect other capabilities. Doing so would lower the amount of business value actually realized since there would also be a negative impact.

Collaborate with each other in order to maximize the realization of Business value across the enterprise

New capabilities often affect others. It is important that different parts of the organization work together to ensure adverse effects are avoided. The business architect must ensure what is required in this collaboration is made visible.

Ensure that all work will be made visible

Dependencies between capabilities is often obscured or even unknown – especially when subject matter expertise has been lost. One of the business architect’s role is to make these visible.

Take the necessary steps to sustain or increase predictability

In many ways this could be considered the defining goal of the business architect. When building one capability adversely affects another capability, unpredictability results.

Keep the work throughout the value stream within capacity

Unseen dependencies between different parts of a system typically results in integration errors and a change in one part of the system breaking another part. This new, unplanned work (waste), adds work in process. Since it was unplanned for, it will likely overload the development groups affected and even their product owners/managers as they will likely need to get involved to sort things out. In addition, this often has a ripple effect to other groups that are dependent upon those teams directly affected who are not involved with this functionality but are dependent due to other capabilities.

Encourage everyone to strive for continuous improvement

Helping different groups collaborate is a never ending job.