What is Strategic Business Architecture?

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There exist several definitions of Business Architecture as a discipline.  One is that Business Architecture is ‘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’. Another, promoted by the Business Architecture Guilddefines Business Architecture as ‘a blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization and is used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands’.

Both clearly state Business Architecture’s role to link enterprise strategy with its operational capabilities. Yet they position Business Architecture into a passive translator of a pre-defined strategic intent and business model into a set of charts. I find this definition limiting and reactive.

For operational capabilities to be truly executing enterprise strategy, Business Architecture must become strategic in itself and form a direct connection with external contexts affecting enterprise existence, in addition to its business model and organisational context. In other words, the very enterprise business model must form an integral part of its business architecture. Only this will allow building a successful Target Operating Model, the one that gives business leaders flexibility to proactively anticipate market changes and adjust operational responses of their enterprises accordingly.

Strategic Business Architecture is a structured process and the product of contextualising, designing and implementing optimal enterprise Target Operating Models.

Strategic Business Architecture as a process is an end-to-end framework of responsive organisational design. It uses formalised methodologies to relate enterprise’s external and internal contexts to its business objectives and builds an optimal Target Operating Model supported by a robust business case. Strategic Business Architecture facilitates successful organisational transformation through transition planning and orchestration of change management actions.

The following points emerge from the above:

  • Strategic Business Architecture is both a framework and a (meta) methodology. As a framework, it provides an end-to-end overview of business architecture process in its entirety. As a methodology, it creates new (while using and adapting existing) techniques to ensure pertinent Target Operating Model design and its implementation.
  • Strategic Business Architecture directly puts enterprise Target Operating Model in the contexts within which the business operates. By doing so it does not replace strategic planning function or plans themselves, yet it has direct access to relevant information and knowledge.
  • Strategic Business Architecture integrates responsibility for designing an optimal Target Operating Model that is in tune with the market and is successful in achieving strategic objectives/business model of a given company. As these differ from business to business, each optimal Target Operating Model is unique to the enterprise for which it is built. While different Target Operating Models may contain similar design elements, it is impossible to design a single model that will fit all companies out there.
  • Strategic Business Architecture orchestrates planning of implementation and monitoring of transition to the Target Operating Model and any change management action needed.

There you have it – Strategic Business Architecture process in a nutshell!

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