About Business Architecture

Business Architecture is a way of documenting your organisation that informs strategic direction and investment decisions.  We use both visual and narrative techniques to make sure you have a holistic view of your organisation.  We use this view to drive out high value insights.  Clients who engage our Business Architecture services often tell us it’s like we reverse engineered the blueprints to their enterprise.

Neil Brown

Principal Consultant

Neil has held senior strategic, planning and architectural leadership roles in both the private and public sector

Services

What is Business Architecture?

How does a Business Architecture engagement work? Well, a typical architecture engagement looks something like this:

Business architecture

There are a lot of questions that might need answering, but Effectus believe clients should be sure of the value before proceeding. A tailored, incremental engagement – one that builds and demonstrates value as it goes – will always be our recommendation. Start small and grow.

Each engagement can and should be different. However, there is also some foundational work that is common to all engagements.

Effectus Business Architecture practice is our proven methodology for helping organisations define and achieve their strategic outcomes. How does it do this? It is a structured way of developing knowledge about the DNA of your organisation, in a way that informs improvement and strategic insight.

Organisations are complex things and need to be viewed from ‘every angle’ in order to accurately diagnose performance issues and decide where investment and change needs to occur. Often, change is seen through just the technology lens. But businesses are a complex weave of service, process, people, information and systems. So Effectus would love the chance to work with you to develop a series of business-centric blueprints that reflect this truth. These will help ensure your organisation:

  • has a holistic of insights, (abstract from the implementation) that can inform strategy
  • has a clear sense of (a) what good looks like, and (b) the proactive change needed to make the change happen
  • is in possession of a persuasive business case for driving the investment needed to transform

How can Business Architecture help you?

The following is a fragment of a service blueprint, built for a private sector enterprise with a heavy emphasis on asset management.  On the ground they are organised along geographic and service lines.  But the blueprint highlighted that despite a diverse portfolio – the same basic asset management lifecycle was common to all.    This highlighted a fantastic opportunity to consolidate.   The lines between services showed the major information flows – and from this emerged naturally a discussion (and target state design) about information masters of truth.

Business Architecture

Once in possession of a blueprint you may discover some or all of the following:

  • Critical missing capabilities.
  • Duplication and opportunities to consolidate and synergise
  • Un mitigated risks you did not fully appreciate.
  • Opportunities you hadn’t spotted.

And clients typically use the outputs of our engagement to help answer the following questions:

  • What are our systemic challenges?
  • Where should I invest? What should I prioritise and in what order?
  • What is my target state?
  • What are my opportunities to synergise – internally and across sector?

Our approach guarantees you possess a single point of reference – one that can be used to harmonize what are often quite dissonant conversations in any organisation.  These include:

  • Helping to bridge the gap between business and ICT perspectives.
  • Helping to relate information quality discussions to service and process.
  • Informing risk management and mitigation conversations
  • Helping to bridge the gap between current state operation outlook – and target state.
  • Informing in vs. out-sourcing decisions

Next Step

A great way to think about business architecture is in terms of the questions it helps our clients answer. Some of these are pretty basic. Some you may have answers for already. But if any of these questions resonate with you, we would love to work with you to help answer them…

We have grouped these questions into three categories: Basic Facts; Augmented Facts and Strategic Outcomes.

a. Basic Facts

Some of these questions may sound quite basic, but in our experience, organisations are often unclear about quite a few of these. Or at least, have not yet addressed them in a rigorous way. But how does your organisation fare?

  • What front office services do we deliver?
  • Who are our customers?
  • What are our channels?
  • What are the back-office services?
  • What are my business processes?
  • What skills do I need to run my business?
  • What business decisions do I make?
  • What is the relative importance of each business decision I make?
  • What real world things do I need to know about? (Business entities)
  • What informational assets (reports) do I rely upon to make decisions?
  • What are the business drivers?
  • What are the long-term goals?
  • What are the measurable business objectives?
  • What are the right initiatives needed in the investment plan?
  • Who are the strategic stakeholders?
  • Who do we partner with to deliver our services?
b. Augmented Facts (Operational Questions)

The following are a few example insights / answers made possible by combining two different business architecture views. If you do not know the answer to as many of these as you like, do you feel you are flying blind, as a result?

  • What services are used by which customer?
  • What is the preferred channel for each service / customer?
  • What are the inter-service dependencies?
  • What are the operational risks by service?
  • What is the required level of service for each?
  • What processes support which services?
  • What process supports which business decision?
  • What are the relationships between things (e.g. A customer engages many services)?
  • What is the quality of information I need for each service?
  • What information do I need to make a decision?
  • What is the relative risk associated with each business decision I make?
  • What drivers constrain which goals? (e.g. compliance limits growth)
  • What problems do we face and what services do they impact?
  • What are the strategic interventions needed to address each problem?
  • What are the dependencies between change projects?
  • What is the best sequence of change projects?
  • What services does each change project impact?
  • Which services are dependent on which partners?
  • What information must I exchange with my service partners and for which service?
c. Strategic Outcome Questions?

Business architecture also helps you answer the following sorts of needs / questions:

  • How do I make sure I establish and invest in the right channels?
  • What are the back to front office dependencies?
  • What risks should I be migrating, and how?
  • How do I develop a clear target state so that we can invest towards it?
  • How can I accurately set customer / stakeholder expectations for service quality?
  • I need an effective sourcing strategy
  • I want to hire the right staff and capabilities
  • How can I increase the chance that investment in change will succeed?
  • I want to understand my current reputational risk, and what I need to do to lower it
  • Do I collect all the information I need to do business?
  • What do we need to do to improve service quality?
  • How can I be assured that our strategy is right – and that we are making progress against it?
  • Do we understand what information we must keep in alignment across our sector?

If you got through all of those and feel confident about at least 50%, then congratulations! Your organisation is (in our experience) in a relatively strong position. But that still leaves a great deal of scope for improvement and we would be delighted to discuss a possible business architecture engagement to mine the remaining opportunities.

To those with less than 50% of the answers, then also ‘congratulations’ – for your honesty!

If you are interested in learning a little more please contact our practice lead, Neil Brown