Add Business Process Architecture to your Business Architecture toolbox

Jan 06, 2020
Jim Rhyne

Analyzing and improving business processes is a fundamental practice of business analysts, but until recently, the role of business process modeling and analysis was unclear in the practice of business architecture. A new whitepaper from the Business Architecture Guild has clarified this role and also made capability analysis (of business architecture) available to business analysts.

In a nutshell, this whitepaper proposes that the value stream is common to both capability architecture and process architecture. The value stream describes the stages of value creation to realize a value proposition targeted to a customer segment. The value stream and its stages may then be described in terms of capabilities or in terms of processes, providing two different kinds of insight into how the value proposition is produced. The capability perspective examines the capabilities needed to create the parts of the value proposition. The analyst will determine if these capabilities are performing as intended and propose improvements. The process perspective examines the sequence of activities to see if the sequencing and flows need to be improved. Doing either analysis without the context of the value stream creates a risk that a local improvement may not improve the creation of the value proposition, and might degrade the value proposition.

It is common in analyzing a business to see that a marginal capability will cause the business to develop compensating activities downstream in a business process that makes use of the marginal capability. The marginal capability has degraded the process, and fixing the capability will not by itself fix the degraded process. One also sees the opposite scenario in which a marginal process leads to the creation of a capability to compensate for the process failure. For example, uncertainty about the timing of the receipt of a needed part will lead to the creation of a costly inventory capability for that part.

The bottom line is that the architect/analyst needs to be able to look at both capabilities and processes in order to create opportunities for business improvement. But, the capability architecture and the process architecture must be grounded in a single, consistent view of the creation of stakeholder value provided by the value streams.

The primary authors of this whitepaper, Roger Burlton, Daniel St. George, and Jim Rhyne are pleased to offer this architecture practice proposal and hope that you find it useful. If you are interested in help applying it to your practice, please contact Jim Rhyne or Rob Kost at Thematix.

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