Making Business Architecture business-friendly

A Business Architecture is usually controlled by Information Technology people.  How can it be made more accessible to business people?  What should and shouldn’t be included in an accessible BA?

The proponents of Enterprise Architecture usually come from the Information Technology field.  A full EA starts with business strategies and requirements (the Business Architecture), but they are most useful to IT if written in a predictable, rigorous format, by a technical specialist like me.

Thus a BA is usually controlled by IT people.  Asking business folks to contribute to it is an uphill battle.  Telling them they “own” the business architecture is silly.  Sometimes they won’t, or can’t, even read the architecture documents. This is not the business people’s fault!

How can a business architecture be more accessible to the business people?

  • Keep it short.
  • Write it in language and diagrams the business can understand.
  • Include the business’ actual foundation documents, such as the mission statement, business plan, organization chart, expansion strategy, etc.
  • Instead of rephrasing or rearranging those business documents, highlight & annotate them, for example, “This section is the rationale for [architectural decision]”.
  • Talk to the business about the scope and format of documentation they would find useful.

What should be included in an accessible business architecture?

  • Complete answers to the big questions:  why the enterprise exists, what it does, who plays what role, who is accountable for what, and what resources are needed.
  • An executive summary:  what decisions were made during the architecture process?  Were any opportunities or threats uncovered?

If a business architecture is to cover a large enterprise, or if it is to be read by senior managers, it should not include much detail.  For example, a full conceptual data model and business process model would be separate documents, with scope limited to business areas requiring re-engineering or system design.  I have made similar recommendations for data architecture.