Common Denominator: Business First!

I am working with a couple different clients now on their approach to enterprise architecture, and not surprisingly, their approaches are vastly different.

One company has a core group of EA’s, working primarily on what they have named Business Driven Target Architecture, which is a bit of a mix of business, application and data architecture.  The scope of these ranges from very project-specific to business-unit wide.  In addition to this work, they have other efforts underway to cross-reference their primary work with each other, company and division strategies and trends in business and technology.  While their primary work is very solutions oriented, their secondary work is enterprise-wide and will, over time, provide more enterprise views of the business and application landscapes.  There is another group that is focused on the technology architecture.

The second client also has two groups working on EA. The first group has been in existence for a few years and is an internal IT group, headed by the full-time Chief Architect, with several architects acting in a part-time EA/part-time solutions architect capacity.  The Chief Architect leads the IT architecture effort with internal IT resources , but also is a member of the second group.  The second group is composed of a variety of business and IT representatives, with a focus on business architecture and strategy.  Without the second group, the internal IT group has struggled  to gain the traction necessary for EA to be more effective.  The second group is just getting started, but they are already beginning to see more support, especially given the stature of business architecture group’s members and the vocal support of the company’s chief executive.

While these two companies are approaching EA very differently, they both have one very important characteristic in common: They both have a “Business First” approach.  The first company starts their Business Driven Target Architectures (notice the First word in the name of their approach) with an understanding of the business goals and strategies, pain points, processes and business capability changes.  That is what separates it from a straightforward solutions architecture approach, in addition to the cross-referencing to their secondary work.

The first company, after struggling with traction, also decided there needed to be more of a business first sense to their efforts.  So they not only created a Business Architecture Team (there is that word first again), but they also focused the group on defining a holistic business operating model as the context for many of the business process integration and business process standardization (see my earlier post that describes their approach) recommendations.

Both of these companies will continue to modify their EA approach as necessary, but one thing will remain constant: Business First!