Enterprise Architecture and Business Process: Common Goals Require Common Tools

by Michael Pastore       • April 25, 2019

For decades now, the professional world has put a great deal of energy into discussing the gulf that exists between business and IT teams within organizations.

They speak different languages, it’s been said, and work toward different goals. Technology plans don’t seem to account for the reality of the business, and business plans don’t account for the capabilities of the technology.

Data governance is one area where business and IT never seemed to establish ownership. Early attempts at data governance treated the idea as a game of volleyball, passing ownership back and forth, with one team responsible for storing data and running applications, and one responsible for using the data for business outcomes.

Today, we see ample evidence this gap is closing at many organizations. Consider:

  • Many technology platforms and software applications now are designed for business users. Business intelligence is a prime example; it’s rare today to see IT pros have to run reports for business users thanks to self-service.
  • Many workers, especially those that came of age surrounded by technology, have a better understanding of both the business and technology that runs their organizations. Education programs also have evolved to help students develop a background in both business and technology.
  • There’s more portability in roles, with technology minds moving to business leadership positions and vice versa.

“The business domain has always existed in enterprise architecture,” says Manuel Ponchaux, director of product management at erwin, Inc. “However, enterprise architecture has traditionally been an IT function with a prime focus on IT. We are now seeing a shift with a greater focus on business outcomes.”

You can see evidence of this blended focus in some of the titles, like “business architect,” being bestowed upon what was traditionally at IT function. These titles demonstrate an understanding that technology cannot exist in the modern organization for the sake of technology alone – technology needs to support the business and its customers. This concept is also a major focus of the digital transformation wave that’s washing over the business world, and thus we see it reflected in job titles that simply didn’t exist a decade ago.

Job titles aside, enterprise architecture (EA) and business process (BP) teams still have different goals, though at many organizations they now work more closely together than they did in the past. Today, both EA and BP teams recognize that their common goal is better business outcomes. Along the way to that goal, each team conducts a number of similar tasks.

Enterprise Architecture and Business Process: Better Together

One prominent example is modeling. Both enterprise architecture and business process teams do modeling, but they do it in different ways at different levels, and they often use different data and tools. This lack of coordination and communication makes it difficult to develop a true sense of a process from the IT and business sides of the equation. It can also lead to duplication of efforts, which is inefficient and likely to add further confusion when trying to understand outcomes.

Building better business outcomes is like following a plan at a construction site. If different teams are making their own decisions about the materials they’re going to use and following their own blueprints, you’re unlikely to see the building you expect to see at the end of the job.

And that’s essentially what is missing at many organizations: A common repository with role-based views, interfaces and dashboard so that enterprise architecture and business process can truly work together using the same blueprint. When enterprise architecture and business process can use common tools that both aid collaboration and help them understand the elements most important to their roles, the result is greater accuracy, increased efficiency and improved outcomes.

erwin’s enterprise architecture and business process tools provide the common repository and role-based views that help these teams work collaboratively toward their common goals. Finally, enterprise architecture and business process can be on the same page.

Business Process Modeling Use Cases

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