Enterprise architects must look beyond project boundaries for better BPM

This is part two in our series, Roles of the Enteprise Architect with Business Process Management.

Taking the wide view of the enterprise allows the enterprise architect to see interrelationships between

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organizations within the enterprise and helps align the architecture with strategies and goals. But few enterprise architects will be planning the architecture of an entire enterprise; often an enterprise architecture organization comprises several domain specialists responsible for different segments of the enterprise. But when it comes to business process management (BPM), a broad view is still necessary.

"The EA is looking outside the boundaries of the project," said Todd Biske, an enterprise architect for a global corporation and author of SOA Governance. "The real question is, are all the BPM activities project focused, or are people looking for the cross-project view?"

Biske believes that making BPM a project-based activity can limit its effectiveness. "If that's the approach to BPM, where it's on a process-by-process basis and there's no interest in identifying capabilities outside of the process, you're siloed," said Biske.

Biske suggests that the enterprise architect should be the person responsible for identifying cross-project and cross-process capabilities. "If the organization's goal is to find capabilities or activities that are applicable across multiple applications or processes in the business, that's where the enterprise architect should have an interest in business process modeling and analysis," said Biske. "Someone has to be maintaining that portfolio and understanding the overlap."

The enterprise architect should also ensure that each individual project has a broader view in mind as it moves forward. "Someone has to take on the responsibility and accountability of making sure the people on the project are aware of business strategies and that the project works to meet capability," said Biske. "Typically that's the function of the enterprise architecture organization."

There is no dominant method for implementing this approach, though. "I've had exposure to eight different enterprise architecture organizations, and no two are alike," said Biske. "I've seen exclusively project-based BPM, I've seen BPM as more an analysis technology, and I've seen it completely owned by enterprise architecture. I think the important thing is that it gets out of the project domain and more into the portfolio management space."

The Role of Enterprise Architects in Business Process Management (BPM)

Part 1: Enterprise architecture methodology should start with broad vision
Part 2: Enterprise architects must look outside the boundaries of the project
Part 3: Enterprise architects can use BPMN as a common language for process modeling

Additional Resources
Enterprise architecture in the Agile age
SearchSOA.com spoke with enterprise architecture consultant Mike Rosen, who says that building an architecture incrementally—in a manner similar Agile application development— seems to be working for many companies.

Too Many Servers: A Case for Enterprise Architecture and TOGAF 9
TOGAF is an architecture design methodology that came out of the cross-organizationally focused information management/IT domains. Read why it may be versatile enough to act as a framework for business design as well.

Outside the Box: Todd Biske's Blog
Enterprise architect Todd Biske writes about enterprise architecture and BPM, as well as other relevant technologies. Todd is also a to SearchSOA.com


This was first published in February 2010

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