Why is Business Architecture important?

Business Architecture is a model of the real-world that is relevant for an IT endeavor—it contains the domain of discourse relevant for the Enterprise Architecture and Solution Development. Therefore, Business Architecture cannot be either stand-alone and disconnected from the context, or considered merely a transition phase from Requirements to Logical Architecture and Physical Architecture.

Models used when applying traditional OO Methodologies only provide a high level view of the (IT) solution in the Requirements phase (e.g., Unified Software Development Process). Such a view does not contain inclusive semantics, or knowledge, necessary to develop and support the solution. Moreover, it is crucial for the Solution Development to determine the level of compliance between the requirements and the satisfactory solution, as the estimation of effort (including costs) to achieve a satisfactory solution is based on the analysis of that compliance. In addition, the Risk Analysis for Solution Development is also based on the Compliance Analysis. These are all reasons why the high level models of traditional OO Methodologies are not adequate for the Business Architecture followed by Compliance Analysis.

For example, when we refer to a business use case model, we usually mean the use case diagrams and narrative descriptions of the high level use cases. The use case diagrams usually contain high-level business functions (e.g., a business use case for account management), and business use cases for the solution’s operations associated with that function (e.g., add account, modify account). Narrative description, no matter how extensive, is not suitable as an input to other formal techniques (e.g., code generation, inductive logic programming from artificial intelligence). Moreover, it is very difficult to procure an accurate model when it is depicted by way of narrative text, and at the same time ensure the consistency of all concepts mentioned in the narrative descriptions. In addition, it should be noted that many people prefer visual representations to narrative text.

The business use case models do not contain detailed functional decomposition of the required, satisfactory solution. For example, if the required solution includes a special type of account with a specific functionality (e.g., sponsors’ account with revenue sharing), the business use case model will not have the capacity to detect that specific requirement.

The high-level business use case model also does not include the solution’s information capacity. Even when functionality is identified, the required information capacity may significantly differ. Consequently, if the information capacity of the solution is not considered in the Business Architecture, and deferred to a later point (e.g., Logical or Physical Architecture), this may increase the estimated development efforts. For example, the information capacity has a particular impact on the data migration models, and if it is not estimated correctly, the information capacity of the solution may be significantly underestimated, and later that may cause unexpectedly high levels of effort for conversion, migration, and customization.

Thus, we conclude that the high level models of the Requirements do not provide enough facts for the Compliance Analysis. It is not enough to analyze the difference in knowledge in use cases, because the gap may exist at other aspects. For Compliance Analysis all aspects of the solution have to be examined, and that includes information, time, locations, agents, rules, and so on.

It should also be noted that: 1) models currently used for the Requirements Management and Business Architecture (e.g., models proposed by Unified Software Development Process) are descriptive; and 2) that these models are not in a formal form. These models are like descriptive diagrams, which mean that their consistency cannot be automatically checked. Thus, the Business Architecture models, when rendered in the software development process are still semi-formal. That semi-formality causes difficulties in automatic validation of the model, especially its dynamics.

To summarize, some of the challenges of Business Architecture that have implications for both research and practice are to:

  • increase the level of formality in the Business Architecture in order to facilitate management of its multi-purpose models (i.e., artifacts)
  • provide different views and different levels of granularity for different stakeholders(e.g., business people, management, requirements experts, systems architects, developers),
  • align business domain and (IT) solution domain
  • facilitate knowledge transfer between business domain and solution domain
  • facilitate development of reusable Business Architecture artifacts (e.g., References Business Architecture)
  • expedite validation and Compliance Analysis (between requirements and solution)
  • induce new facts from the existing Business Architecture models in a formal way (e.g., by application of code generation, automate testing, artificial intelligence techniques that accelerate solution development)
  • promote testing in the early stages of solution development (where testing may include simulation techniques and automated testing)

[Jacobson, Booch and Rumbaugh]   Jacobson I. Booch G. and Rumbaugh J. The Unified Software Development Process, Addison-Wesley, 1999.

[Polovina and Wojtkowski]   Polovina, R, Wojtkowski W., Wojtkowski, G. “Reusable Abstract Design as a Knowledge Repository: Its Utility in Software Intense Systems for the Networked Enterprise”, World Multiconference of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (SCI), Orlando, Florida, July 2002.

[Polovina, Wojtkowski and Wojtkowski]   Polovina, R, Wojtkowski,W., Wojtkowski G. “Framework oriented software development and its challenges: commercial software solutions providers perspective”, International Conference of Information Systems Development: Methods & Tools, Theory & Practice, Kristiansand, Norway, August 2000. Also published in “Contemporary Trends in Systems Development,” edited by M.K. Sein et al., Kluwer Academic 2001, pp. 79-91.

Rubina Polovina, PhD is a principal IT consultant who has been providing leadership on national and international multi-party initiatives in the public and private sectors. During more than 20 years in the IT industry, she contributed to projects in Europe, North America and in the Middle East. Currently, Rubina lives in Toronto, Ontario. She has been working on projects at major Canadian financial institutions and the Government of Ontario. Her research interests include enterprise architecture, knowledge management, IT management, IT project management, IT risk management, privacy protection, social networks and eHealth. Rubina’s scientific work has been both tested across various vertical industries and presented on peer-review international conferences. Rubina graduated in electrical engineering in 1987 from the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and she received her PhD in computer science and engineering in 2000 from the Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Comments (4)
  • Rubina  - And one more LinkedIn thread

    The Enterprise Architecture Network

    http://www.linkedin.com/groups/What-is-future-Business-Architecture- 36781.S.109666207?qid=3cc7b3d5-fcf9-4f31-8c7c- 2248b6f3e51c&trk=group_items_see_more-0-b-cmr

  • Rubina  - One more LinkedIn discussion

    One more LinkedIn thread - Considerate Enteprise Architecture group

    http://www.linkedin.com/groups/What-is-future-Business-Architecture- 2604346.S.109202521?qid=9a0a3153-3381-43d0-963e-b1a934733e15& trk=group_most_recent_rich-0-b-cmr&goback=.gmr_2604346

  • Rubina  - LInkedIn discussion

    One more LinkedIn discussion, this time Enterprise Architecture Forum group:

    http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=36248&type=member&item=110303823& commentID=80424338&goback=.anp_36248_1336879506009_1& report.success=8ULbKyXO6NDvmoK7o030UNOYGZKrvdhBhypZ_w8EpQrrQI- BBjkmxwkEOwBjLE28YyDIxcyEO7_TA_giuRN#commentID_80424338

  • Rubina  - Discussion on the future of Business Architecture

    Here is the link to the LinkedIn Enterprise Architects Only group and discussion triggered by this article:

    http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=3798195&type=member&item=110303475& qid=2799c6c8-322f-44fc-8257-8d30f0ee0700&trk=group_most_recent_rich-0-b-ttl& goback=.gmr_3798195

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