Business Architecture

What is Business Architecture?

The Dragon1 open EA Method defines business architecture as follows:

Business Architecture is a coherent set of business concepts of an enterprise or organization.

The current state business architecture (or AS IS) is the current set of implemented concepts. The future state business architecture (or TO BE) is the set of concepts that will or need to be implemented in the future.

Business Architecture is a total concept of a business structure or business system, containing constructive, operative, and decorative concepts.

A business structure is a business system with construction (like departments), operations (like processes), and decoration (like imago, ethics code, and transparency).

A business (structure) is an organization or economic system exchanging goods, services, or products for value.

An architecture in the method Dragon1 is only real architecture when it contains a coherent set of constructive, operative, and decorative concepts.

A concept is another word for approach, way of working, or idea, abstracted from its implementation.

Every concept has one or more working mechanisms. The working mechanism of a concept is the principle of a concept.

Capabilities vs Concepts

Business Capabilities and Business Concepts are closely related terms.

A business concept is a business approach, business way of thinking, or business idea. It already exists, without being implemented in an organization.

A business capability of an organization is an implemented business concept in an organization. A business capability is a performance level you can achieve under certain circumstances.

Business architecture is not a set of capabilities but a set of business concepts, leading to a set of business capabilities.

Example Business Architecture Diagram (Business Concepts Map)

Examples of business architecture (or total concepts for doing business) are:

  • The 100% Online & Digital Company - all business is done online & digital
  • The 100% Brick and Mortar Money Collection Business - all money is collected in the real world
  • The Trust Based Consultancy Company - all that is advised by this company is believed or accepted by its clients through trust
business architecture

This is a visualization of a Business Architecture diagram.

Read more about the definition of business architecture here.

What is NOT Business Architecture?

Unfortunately there are architecture frameworks and approaches that define business architecture in a completely confusing way.

For instance, business architecture is defined as DESCRIPTION or DOCUMENTATION. But that would mean that without describing or documenting the business architecture, there is no business architecture. That, of course, is nonsense.

Other definitions of business architecture say that it is about the interaction between business strategy, organization, functions, business processes, and information needs. But this excludes having a business architecture without a strategy, organization, functions, and business processes. For example, a kid selling cookies door by door does not have a strategy, organization, function, or business process. But it does have a business architecture, namely: Endearing Charm Based Business.

The Problem With Business Architecture and Architects

If you are lending the word architecture from the field of building architecture and placing it in the world of organization and innovation, there is no reason at all to change the meaning of architecture (unless you do not fully understand or know what is architecture and what is an architect).

In the past decades this was done by many architects and frameworks: they changed the definition and meaning of architecture from 'total concept' into 'total logical structure'. Just look up all the definitions of enterprise architecture. They often address the logical and physical level, but hardly the conceptual level. Dragon1 undoes all this.

Dragon1 as open EA Method defines architecture as a special total concept and architects as designers of special total concepts. It is not that easy for everyone to do at first conceptual design, the next logical design, and after that physical design. And finally supervising the realization of a structure using that total concept.

CRASH COURSE: How To Create Your Business Architecture

To create your TO BE business architecture, do the following:

  • 1. List all the business concepts you identify and recognize at your company and/or your competitor's company together with the innovative business concepts you have heard of;
  • 2. List the mission, vision, goals, and objectives your company has formulated;
  • 3. Link all the concepts you need to realize your mission, vision, business goals, and objectives;
  • 3.1 Optionally create a business functions model and business domains model of your organization and map the concepts onto your business functions and business domains. (Read the blog below for an example);
  • 4. To do this look at the principles of the concepts (meaning the way of working with the concepts and their results). The results of the concepts must match or relate to your mission, vision, goals, and objectives;
  • 5. Detail all your concepts into elements (logical functional parts);
  • 6. Convert your elements into components (technical physical parts);
  • 7. Implement the components as technical products;
  • 8. Done!

List of Business Concepts

A concept is another word for approach, a way of working or an idea, abstracted from its implementation.

Common Business Concepts used in Business Architecture are:

  • Business Oriented way of working
  • Business Domain Orientation
  • Business Function Orientation
  • Customer Intimacy
  • Operational Excellence
  • Digital Product Orientation / Product Management
  • Business Process Orientation / Business Process Management
  • Empowerment
  • Crowd Testing
  • Skilled Service Desk
  • Self Service Orientation
  • Social Marketing and Selling
  • Guerilla Product Selling
  • eLearning
  • eProcurement
  • Instant Factory
  • Scalable Plant
  • DevOps

A business architecture MUST mention all the concepts used in the business architecture, so that includes naming also the fundamental concepts used.

Note that per business function, like procurement, development, sales, and delivery, one can explore many concepts.

Be sure to reference literature and books. Before you use a concept in your architecture, be sure you know the first principle of the concept very well. The first principle is the enforced way the whole concept works, producing results. (This is also a specific Dragon1 open EA Method definition that differs from mainstream Enterprise Architecture).

Every organization will detail the design and implement these concepts differ in their structure. Every concept at a logical level consists of elements and at a physical level consists of components. At the implementational level, it consists of technical products (the products you buy from suppliers).

Business Architecture Diagrams

Business Architects commonly create the following diagrams:

  • Meta Models
  • Strategy Maps
  • Business Models
  • Value Chains
  • Value Streams
  • Business Functions Models
  • Business Capability Models
  • Organization Models
  • Customer Journey Maps
  • Mind Maps
  • BPMN models

More to Read

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