The need for Strategic Business Architecture

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Having worked as a Senior Project Manager within the Global Transformation Office of a major global services company (see my professional career), I felt there was a need for a top-down, an easier-to-explain and understand integrated framework of Target Operating Model design. While some well known enterprise architecture frameworks (i.e. Zachman) and methods (i.e. TOGAF) exist, there is still a requirement for an overarching framework connecting all the dots – starting with environmental scanning and long term strategic business needs through to their final operational implementation, via business model confirmation, Target Operating Model design, transformation project planning and change management (as a note, Business Architecture Guild has been progressing in this direction for a while but its work appears to be less known in Europe). As more and more companies go through a potentially painful process of reorganisation and change, executives at all levels need to be able to visualise and understand what is involved along the way of corporate transformation, big or small.

A 2015 Forrester Research report on the future of Business Architecture concluded that ‘business-focused enterprise architecture (EA) professionals need to extend their sights beyond organizational boundaries to the business’ ecosystem and customers if they are to continue delivering value’. While I do not disagree, this still looks a bottom-up approach to business architecture development to me, in so far as we are looking at the Target Operating Model from an enterprise, not strategy or market perspective.

Instead, it is prerequisite that corporate strategists also connect their ‘think pieces’ with operational realities on the ground and give concrete and actionable meaning to their proposed strategies. Unfortunately, still too often business leaders look at the same (or similar) strategic plans year after year wondering why so little progress is achieved.

In most instances, this is because even most sound strategies are not always fully connected to existing operating models in place, or in case of ‘business beyond usual’, do not suggest any robust Target Operating Model to execute the strategy (covering e.g. costs, benefits and timelines).

Taking and reversing the Forrester’s thought, this means that as enterprise architecture professionals need to extend their sights beyond organisational boundaries, so do strategic planners need to build up their Target Operating Model design skills to help them add additional value to daily operations.

And this is where Strategic Business Architecture comes in – to connect top-down strategy with bottom-up operational implementation through the most efficient and effective Target Operating Model design.

And so I started drawing some blocks that the Strategic Business Architecture framework would need to encompass in order to serve the above purpose. In a series of articles on this site, I intend to reflect on how they fit together, hopefully with some help from the interested contributors along the way!

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Does this article resonate with you? I would like to hear what you think – you are welcome to leave a comment or send me a message from my Contact page.

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