Conclusion: An effective Enterprise Architecture should enable the strategy of an organisation to be clearly linked to the underlying business processes and information technology assets. Established enterprise architecture frameworks such as Zachman, TOGAF et al. include limited support for modelling the strategy of an organisation. An emerging framework, the Business Motivation Model, provides a much richer structure for capturing an organisation’s objective. Focusing on the strategy of an organisation represents an opportunity for Enterprise Architects to engage with the highest level of organisational planning and reflect true business intent, rather than reverting to a limited techno-centric perspective.
Observations: The Open Management Group defines “business architecture” as:
"A blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization and is used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands."
Enterprise Architects have long been comfortable managing the raw technology assets (applications, infrastructure, information etc.) that support the “tactical demands” of system design required to support enterprise change. IBRS’ experience has also shown that many organisations in Australia are making great progress in mapping business processes and services into an integrated architecture picture. The challenge is now connecting the knowledge of business processes and business rules to the higher-level strategic objectives that govern organisational evolution.
The first prerequisite in linking architecture to strategy is that an organisation has agreed and defined a strategy that clearly articulates its mission and purpose. There are many challenges in doing so. Sometimes organisations struggle to agree on their core purpose; neglect strategic planning activities; or maintain the strategy in tacit form without ever formally documenting it. An organisation may have a valid strategy defined, but the Enterprise Architecture team may not be appreciative of it.
In the absence of a defined strategy, Enterprise Architecture development can be a compelling voice calling for the establishment of a defined strategy, or indeed even leading the charge in its creation. However, beware the political risks attached to launching into this debate. Questioning or challenging an organisation’s strategy (or absence thereof) can be a confronting experience and risks adverse reactions from important stakeholders who have not bought into the concept.
Assuming a strategy has been identified and agreed there needs to be a way for it to be expressed architecturally. Popular Enterprise Architecture frameworks usually have some capability to capture important strategy elements. For example:
The Zachman framework includes what it calls the “motivation description” as one of the core six dimensions of its taxonomy
The TOGAF 9.0 framework optionally includes business drivers, goals and objectives in the “Motivation Extensions” of the core meta-model
The Australian Government Architecture 2.0 defines the “Mission and Business Results” area of the Performance Reference Model which maps to the strategic outcomes and outputs defined by the government for public service agencies
For organisations which have not yet embraced an Enterprise Architecture framework there is support available in frameworks such as the Open Management Group’s Business Motivation Model (BMM). In essence the BMM is a formal model for depicting business plans. However the BMM is not currently well known within the enterprise architecture field so it is worth examining in more detail.
The BMM is a structure that supports understanding the ‘doing’ of an organisation (mission, strategy, tactics) alongside the ‘being’ (vision, goals, objectives). The BMM situates the means (“doing”) and end (“being”) in the context of the forces or “influencers” that could impact on to either the means or the ends. Related to the “influencers” are the “assessments” of the potential impacts of the influencers and the mitigation approaches to deal with them.
These “means”, “ends” and “influencers” are then linked to the responsible organisational units and business processes. These responsible elements should already be defined in an Enterprise Architecture model, or business architecture view and are not directly part of the BMM itself. The operation of the organisational units and business processes are governed by “directives” that specify the business policies and rules that apply to the “means” in pursuit of the “ends”.
The BMM provides a much richer level of detail than the established mainstream Enterprise Architecture frameworks for documenting a strategy – delving into business policies, impact assessments, assets, liabilities and so on. This richer level of detail facilitates the modelling of a high-fidelity business plan (or strategy) if so desired. For large organisations the BMM model can reflect a nested approach where each organisation unit can generate a BMM model that can link to the superior or subordinate BMM models as appropriate.
The linkage between BMM elements and underlying technology architecture is through the associated business processes and rules. The linkages to business processes and rules once defined in the BMM can be mapped back to the supporting systems and applications. This establishes the linkages from business aspirations through to technology implementation.
It is worth noting that the BMM is methodology neutral. It describes the information to be managed, but not how the information should be gathered. In practice maintenance of a BMM or any Enterprise Architecture framework strategy model should be done in lock-step with the strategic planning decision-making cycle of an organisation.
Ultimately the value of maintaining an organisation strategy as an architectural model (EA framework, BMM or otherwise) provides a number of key benefits:
an organisation’s strategy can be made explicit and the rationale behind changes to it become visible and shareable
the outcomes of strategic decisions can be traced to the operational impacts across systems and services
Understand the how the organisations strategy is defined – is it well formed and formally documented?
If a written strategy exists have the Enterprise Architecture team document the strategy within either established EA frameworks or adopt an offering like the BMM for that purpose.
If not, advocate for better clarity and rigour around organisational strategy.
Make the incorporation of the strategy into the enterprise architecture pass the executive “so what?” test.
Embed the maintenance of the architecture view into the strategic planning lifecycle for the organisation.