Guest Commentary

Thoughts on communicating enterprise business architecture

Jack Welch, CEO, left GE the world's most valuable company due to his revolutionary management principles. Welch transformed GE from a manufacturing to a service centered business by embracing change and by creating a boundaryless organization with a focus on global communication. Boundaryless organizations understand that traditional boundaries between layers of management (vertical) and divisions between functional areas (horizontal) have stifled the flow of information and ideas.  

For organizations that are aligned with the Information Age management principles established by Welch and others, the reality is that re-usable service-oriented architecture (SOA) has proven to offer business agility and cost avoidance.

The third phase, or early majority, of a classic Everett Rogers innovation curve for SOA is finally beginning to build. But communicating enterprise business architecture still can be challenging. I would like to share some views with you that have helped me to communicate solution architectures (frameworks) with business stakeholders.

What do music and business process modeling have in common? Some of us may have seen a player piano. The songs are played automatically using a scroll of paper with punched holes. The paper role executes a sequence of notes on the piano strings (services). We don't need to build a new piano for every new song. True agility is using BPMN scripts (constrained by business rules) to play different

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songs when adapting to change. Workflow diagrams may be used to execute new scenarios. No need to recode software applications for every new or changed song when adopting BPMN/SOA.

What's the relationship between business models and business rules? Ronald Ross demonstrates a unique clarity and precision on how to speak a ''fact-based'' language of business. Check out his new book, "Building Business Solutions" co-authored by Gladys Lam to learn more about factual business models. This book carefully steps from business strategy to business solution and then through business process models using externalized business rules to realize compelling business agility.

What's the connection between enterprise business architecture (EBA) and governance, risk and compliance (GRC)? Recently, the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in France predicted that enterprises that do not approach information management, in a coordinated manner, will fail in the first or second year at a rate of more than 90%.

Based upon insights that EBA may solve risk (GRC) pain points we recently delivered briefings and listened to nearly forty GRC VP's from Fortune 100 companies. Our briefing was on leveraging EBA and GRC using frameworks like the Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), OMG (BMM, SBVR, BPMN and UML Business Modeling) using repository tools to manage knowledge modeling, traceability and reporting. What we found was a surprising resonance using EBA/GRC and SOA to solve the risk (GRC) pain points when applied to solution architecture assets. You may wish to communicate with your GRC people.
Who may help us to model and communicate the business model?
Business Analysts are now developing their capabilities because of the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA) and the BABOK framework. Finally, enterprise business architects are rapidly evolving their book of knowledge thanks to the Business Architecture Guild.

This was first published in October 2011

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