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What is a process-based business architecture?

Gilles Morin Gilles Morin on June 20, 2016

16_Business_Architecture.jpgHave you ever tried to build a house without blueprints, or even hoped to get the costs right without any plans? There is a single master blueprint for the general contractor, and different views for the electrician, the plumber, the foundation specialist, etc. The architect works with you trying to capture your needs, dreams, big projects, intents – in short, to really understand your overall context.

They suggest that you look at different ‘dream house/cottage’ reviews and bring them some examples of what best captures your vision. The idea is simple – to help you make your vision concrete and actionable with reduced construction risks, while also helping you to make optimal choices and accelerating your decision process.

Process-based process architectures are essentially the same: critical business blueprints.

The process-based business architecture – a critical governance tool!

A process-driven business architecture is a key executive team business blueprint, as well as a key governance and management tool for decision makers. It is an agreed business model showing how your organisation is, and will be, creating value. It does this by illustrating its prime value chain, value streams and processes, as well as reflecting its strategic intents, key stakeholders’ needs, and performance logic. More than that, it helps the executive or management team to agree on investment priorities with required traceability to the organisation’s top strategic priorities.

You might have a big IT investment coming in. Have you checked to see that you have the right scope from a process and capability perspectives. Are you missing anything? Do you really have a realistic view of this project? This is an example of a situation where executives would like to have their organisation’s blueprint handy and valid.

Your transformation program requires that you start by creating new and stronger operational and business synergies – where do you start? How can you hope to do this without some baseline model that reflects your organisation’s capabilities? Hope, surely, is not a strategy; and guts may work, but you might not want to rely only on your guts. The stakes are too high, and instincts may, in some cases, be your worst enemy.

Why not just use existing industry-specific models and just copy them?

There is a number of industry-specific process model out there: SCOR, APQC, Panorama 360, just to name a few. Why not save yourself time and just copy them. This may well be a good idea for non-strategic processes – but it is not recommended for your core processes. You may use these models to help kick-start the designing exercise, but will rapidly discover that they have limitations for your core processes, especially when they come to reflect your core processes model – your actual and targeted competitive distinctiveness. How you deliver value, which are your core value streams and processes, is unique and a matter of strategic choices.

Designing your process-based business architecture is fundamentally and truly a business exercise, as important as doing your strategic plan.

The design of a business architecture is done with and by the business and thought leaders of your organisation. Process-based business architecture isn’t about IT – it is  about your business - your view about the present and the future, and your key capabilities (capacity to act). It’s about how key works get done in your organisation from customer to customer, and end to end. It’s about agreeing on meanings, views, visions, internal and external readings, key performance gaps, key capability gaps, etc.

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Topics: BPM - Business Process Management