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Many strategic initiatives today are focused on enterprise architecture (EA) development, business process management (BPM) and service-oriented architecture (SOA) development. In support of these important activities are numerous approaches, techniques, tools and experienced consultants. You can also find a wealth of information on the Web and in various industry newsletters and publications. Let us take a look at what is common and shared between these essential initiatives.
Most of us are familiar with the various EA frameworks, such as the Zachman Framework, The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) and the Department of Defense Architecture Framework (DoDAF). If you consider the Zachman Framework, you will find a reference to business process models. These are the processes that BPM is designing, improving and re-engineering. If you consider how best to satisfy the needs of these newly designed processes in today's Web environment, you obviously will consider SOA. Many people realize that SOA's potential lies in its ability to align software resources with business processes.
It is sometimes hard to discuss one of these strategic initiatives without referring to the other two. As these initiatives mature, each one is complementing the other, almost co-evolving as each develops. You might realize that these three initiatives share many common resources, or maybe you see a convergence of the three. If you consider how EA has matured from the very early days, it was sometimes referred to as "architecture in the dark." However, today, with the available EA frameworks and supporting software tools, it is "architecture by design." In a similar fashion, process modeling has grown up from independent, functional, stovepipe activity diagrams to well-defined, robust cross-functional process models. And here, again, several BPM suites of software are available. SOA is developing also, expecting to achieve reuse of IT assets, interoperability, scalability and shorter development lifecycles.
As these strategic initiatives continue to evolve, mature and converge, you will find that they share something in common; an architecture of the business. The Enterprise Business Architecture (EBA) is a blueprint of the enterprise built using architectural disciplines to improve performance. The IT community is no stranger to architecture development and engineering disciplines.
Perhaps it will seem strange to the business community that they too have a formal architecture that can be engineered. The EBA has a customer-centric focus coupled with a holistic view of the enterprise to deliver a value-creating system. It is built using value streams and integrated by connecting process inputs and outputs with their appropriate sources and destinations.
The EBA represents the convergence or unification of these three major initiatives. You cannot simply address one without the other, and you must consider each of these as part of a unified whole, not as loosely-defined standalone projects. The true potential of EA, BPM and SOA is in their unification through the EBA rather than as stand-alone corporate initiatives. With this kind of insight, you may find that you are creating higher profits, superior customer service and a competitive advantage for the enterprise.
Ralph Whittle is co-author of a book titled, Enterprise Business Architecture: The Formal Link between Strategy and Results, CRC Press 2004. He is a Strategic Business/IT Consultant and subject matter expert in Enterprise Business Architecture development and implementation. He has built Enterprise Business Architectures in various industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare, financial, and technology. He has worked in the IT industry for over 26 years, conducting engagements in enterprise business process modeling, strategic/tactical business planning, enterprise business requirements analysis, enterprise business architecture and IT architecture integration, strategic frameworks integration with systems development methodologies and IT service offering enhancement. He is a co-inventor of a patent for a Strategic Business/IT Planning framework.
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