A Business Architecture defines the structure of your organization in terms of its governance structure, business processes, business services and products, business information and stakeholders. A business architecture outlines the relation to strategic goals towards a working system. So in short a business architecture can be regarded as a blueprint of the working of an organization. By using a business architecture your organisation can handle changes and problems with less cost and in less time since you know all the important dependencies, relation and information flows. Every successful organisation, small or large, SHOULD have a business architecture. A business architecture does not have to be fully descriptive, complete or created among a certain standard. Designing organisations and describing the working of an organisation is know to be complex and hard. However simple tools exist to create a meaningful business architecture for your organisation.
This section is created to speed up the process for creating a real business architecture.
You can use one of the following tools:
- Business architecture template(s)
- (Re)use business principles
- Modeling your business processes
- Defining your business products
Tools for creating a business architecture¶
To speed up the process of creating your business architecture you can make use of one of the following tools:
- Collection of many nice design principles used by companies (180+ examples).
- Archi. Archi™ GUI tool for creating a business architecture using the ArchiMate modelling™ language. The Archi tool is targeted toward all levels of Architects. The tool is MIT Licensed, so it provides a low cost solution to users who are looking for a free, open ArchiMate modeling tool.
- Causal Loop Diagram. Tool to make easy causal loop diagrams in your browser. A causal loop diagram (CLD) is a causal diagram that aids in visualizing how different variables in a system are interrelated. This FOSS tool has an nice animation to presents effects also! The original (OSS) source can be found here. But the version on NOComplexity.com is a (GPL) fork with some extra features. Ask nocomplexity.com for the source of this version if needed!
- Camunda Modeler. Camunda Modeler is an OSS desktop application for editing BPMN process diagrams(2.0) and DMN decision tables. Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is the global standard for process modeling and one of the most important components of successful Business-IT-Alignment. BPMN is an open standard. But there are not many good OSS available packages available. Camunda Modeler is an OSS BPMN solution and is part of an open source platform for workflow and business process management. So when you use the Camunda Suite you can also use the execution engine for your processes you have modeled.
- Protégé. Protégé is an OSS web or desktop application that can be used for building business ontologies.
- DrawIO. A online FOSS program to create diagrams. Its a very advanced, but also very simple to use program to create all types of (business) diagrams. UML, BPMN, ArchiMate, swimlane diagrams and many more. If you like to create good diagrams fast, think of using this program. Since its FOSS the source can be found on https://github.com/jgraph/drawio if you want to host it yourself. There is also a desktop version (electron build) of draw.io. Check https://github.com/jgraph/drawio-desktop.
Having solid business principles is key for a successful company. Small or large. Having good and solid business principles is key for developing a good architecture within solid time and cost constraints. Business principles SHOULD be defined and agreed upon within a solid process with all key business stakeholders involved. The list below with principles below can give you a head start, since these principles are collected from various successful businesses.
Create a MVP fast¶
First, make it easy. Then make it fast.¶
Use Open Data, Open Standards, Open Source, and Open Innovation¶
- Adopt and expand existing open standards.
- Open data and functionalities and expose them in documented APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) where use by a larger community is possible.
- Invest in software as a public good.
- Develop software to be open source by default with the code made available in public repositories and supported through developer communities.
Make things open: it makes things better¶
Maximise Benefit to the Enterprise¶
Maximize Benefit to the complete enterprise¶
Reuse and Improve¶
- Use, modify and extend existing tools, platforms, and frameworks when possible.
- Develop in modular ways favoring approaches that are interoperable over those that are monolithic by design.
Reuse before Buy, Buy before Build¶
- Reusing IT assets (for example, IT systems or data) that are already available is often the simplest, quickest, and least expensive solution, assuming that the IT assets in question sufficiently fit the intended purpose.
- It is less expensive to buy standard IT solutions than to custom build them, as long as they are not adapted and maintenance is left to the product supplier.
- Many authoritative data sources make their data products available (or offer data acquisition / generation services), reducing the company’s need to generate such data itself.
- Custom development of IT assets is often very expensive to sustain.
- When functionality is required, existing IT assets in the organization must be evaluated and used first, unless they do not exist and/or are a significant mismatch to the required functionality.
- To ensure that IT assets are being reused as much as possible, business areas must be prepared to adapt to existing solutions that provide adequate functionality, particularly in situations where the accountable governance body does not deem that business area’s practices to be required to be different from industry standard practices.
- The company will prefer COTS products and particularly those that are configurable. Some products are so configurable that there is little difference between extensive configuration and custom development. The company y must clearly understand when configuration equates to custom development (that is, the level of configuration is so high that the COTS solution is essentially the same as custom development). In these cases, the scenario will change from buy to build.
- Agreements or licenses to use data may have legal implications and legal consultation should be part of the process of deciding to use a new data source.
Routine Tasks are Automated Where Appropriate¶
- Routine tasks require relatively little specific knowledge and can be automated fairly easily.
- Automated tasks are more cost efficient and timeefficient, and less errorprone, than manual tasks.
- Employee capacity requirements can be optimized, freeing them up to focus on more complex activities.
- The knowledge required to perform certain tasks is analyzed and embedded in an IT system when it can be easily formalized.
- Nonroutine tasks may not be automated.
- Individual performers will need to be able to automate their own tasks. Business areas should integrate automated work flows, where one business unit receives another business unit’s automated output as its input.
Give before receiving¶
Information Management is Everybody’s Business¶
- The underlying technology is transparent to users.
- Training is kept to a minimum, and the risk of using a system improperly is low.
- Default (de-facto) GUI’s are used for interacting with the system.
- No large user manual is needed.
- Engage diverse expertise across disciplines and industries at all stages.
- Work across sector silos to create coordinated and more holistic approaches.
- Document work, results, processes and best practices and share them widely.
- Publish materials under a Creative Commons license by default, with strong rationale if another licensing approach is taken.
Business architecture templates¶
Creating a business architecture means doing real business research. However for a quality business architecture it make sense to make use of a draft template. From a template you can easily add, remove or change subjects that need special attention within your context. Also since architecture documents always should be created for a clear business goal and to be used by different stakeholders, all quality documents SHOULD contain some default reusable text blocks.
- Basic business architecture template
- Stakeholder template
- Business Architecture. EU template/document that describes the product, service strategy, organizational, functional, process, information, and geographic aspects of the business architecture.
- Business Architecture Document Template. Typical Togaf(tm) like business architecture template.
Using business viewpoints¶
Viewpoints can provide benefit to address specific concerns for certain stakeholders. Below a list of most used viewpoint within a business architecture:
- Motivation view: describes what the business achieves for itself and its stakeholders (direct and indirect value).
- Capability view: describes how the business delivers direct and indirect value in response to the challenges of the environment.
- Activity view: describes the day-to-day behaviour of the business.
- Responsibility view: captures the relationships between individuals and organizations in terms of responsibilities and commitments. These relationships and organizational interfaces may be represented as business services.