What’s the job of a real business architect?

In this post, we’ll find out….

What’s The Role Of A Business Architect?

A Business Architect…

….develops the design of the Target Operating Model (TOM), as well as oversee the implementation of the physical TOM that is aligned to the design.

The ideal TOM is aligned with following architectures across the organisation:

The best time to engage the Business Architect is during the early stages of the programme.

They must be present from the early planning phase to validate the direction of the organisation (i.e.vision, business strategy, TOM design etc…) and oversee its physical implementation.

A Business Architect Isn’t?

Some Business Architects call themselves Enterprise-Business-Architects.

This raises the question…

“Are they responsible for both the Enterprise Architecture (technical aspect) and the Business Architecture (business aspect)?”

Let’s clarify a few misconceptions…

An ‘Enterprise-Business-Architect’ who is only responsible for the tech aspect of the business is not a real Business Architect.

Instead, they are a Technology Architect.

They are only responsible for the Technology Architecture in the enterprise or organisation.

Another misconception is that the Business Architect is a Business Analyst.

While these two professions are involved in designing and implementing the TOM, there’s a few differences:

  • They have a different focus,
  • They operate at a different Organisation level
  • They are engaged at different times (or phases) within the Programme
  • They share similar tools, but use them differently, and
  • The scale of change they deal with is different.

Let’s discuss these differences one by one:

They have a different focus

As we’ve discussed earlier, Business Architects focus on the planning, strategy, implementation and overall life cycle of the program.

In contrast, Business Analysts are involved in the later phase of the project life cycle. Once a strategy is made by the Business Architect, the Business Analysts helps develop and implement the solution.

They operate at a different organisation level

Business Architects operate at a higher organisational or strategic level. They look at ‘what is possible?’, and ‘why?’

Meanwhile, Business Analysts work at the lower levels. They look at the project level and define how these requirements will be implemented.

There’s a clear delineation between Business Architects and Business Analysis.

Here’s an illustration that shows where the overlaps and differences occur:


The overlaps occur when the Business Architect hands some work to the Business Analyst  to translate high level strategic requirements into lower level detailed requirements.

They are engaged at different times (or phases) within the Programme

The Business Architect is brought into the early stage of the Business or Programme lifecycle to lead the design.

In contrast, the Business Analyst is brought later, as part of the design’s implementation.


They have similar tools, but use them differently

The Business Architect and Business Analyst share some common tools, but use them differently.

It’s kind of like how a weight-lifter and a bodybuilder use weights, which lead to different outcomes.

One example is impact and gap analyses.

The Business Architect conducts a gap analysis on existing business capabilities and assess their ability to meet future objectives.

In contrast, Business Analysts will use gap analysis to assess the differences and changes required between an existing (current) process, and the proposed (future).

In short, they might use the same tools.

…but you have two distinct results.

The ‘scale’ of change they deal with is different

Business Architects deal with bigger scale and larger tasks.

Let’s use renovating a house as an analogy.

If you are a homeowner renovating the bathroom, you have two options – you can do it yourself or bring in an expert.

Since it’s a relatively small job, you could manage it yourself but you do need to bring in a specialist for specific tasks (i.e.a plumber, electrician or carpenter).

If you’re renovating the whole house, you need to bring in an expert.

You need someone who understands how one change in a room can impact the whole house.

You also need to remove a few walls and open up the living space.

You need someone to come up with the design and manage the implementation of that design.

That specialist is the Architect, and in the case of an organisation or business, that specialist is the Business Architect.

Business Architecture is not Business Change

The Business Architect is not a Business Change person.

Business change does not compile detailed impact analyses or plans – nor do they lead the implementation of the final solution.

The point where Business Architecture and Business Change cross over is during the delivery phase.

Here, the Business Architect works with the Business Change to oversee that the physical implementation and alignment of the design.

The role of the Business Architect here is to highlight these ‘Business Changes’ in terms of the  people, process and technology.

In addition, managers in charge of change detail the following:

  • what the change means on a day-to-day operational level
  • how the business will transition from existing to new processes, systems etc…

This is not the role of the Business Architect.

However, what happens is the Business Architect is drawn into Business Change conversations.

They confirm and assure the Business Change activities which will lead to the implementation of the design of the TOM.

But this is where the confusion sets in.

The Business Architect is inadvertently tasked with coming up with business change plans and activities because of their familiarity with the design and the subject matter.

However, business Change and Business Architecture are specialized skill sets.

They have their own frameworks, tools and techniques.

What Is The Cause For Confusion?

Historically, Business Architects come from a technology background.

They work as either an Application, Solution, Information or Data Architect, IT Project lead or developer.

That’s because there’s always been a historical emphasis on the technology side of Enterprise Architecture in the Zachman Framework in 1987, and later with TOGAF.

Thus, the foundations of any architectures was based on IT Strategy.

The problem with Business Architects that have a technology background is…

  • they look at business issues through a technology lens
  • they think that technology alone will solve business problems

So, when they perform ‘Business Architecture’ activities they use a ‘technical’ lens.

They believe all business concerns, problems and issues can be addressed and solved by a technology solution.

In reality, it’s not always the case.

It doesn’t always work.

That said, you should understand the role of a real Business Architect.

This way, you can successfully transform your business.

Thank you for reading this!
Heath Gascoigne


P.S. Remember: A real Business Architect must be present from the early planning phases to validate the direction of the organisation (i.e.vision, business strategy, TOM design etc…) and oversee its physical implementation.

P.P.S. If you want to learn more about business transformation, or what a real Business Architect does on a day-to-day basis in transforming businesses, check out The Business Transformation Playbook here.

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