Business Architecture for IT (BA4IT)

The Next New Normal

As the world emerges from the COVID 19 pandemic, business leaders will be focused on “The Next New Normal” which will certainly include offering more ways to access products and services in a digital format. More than ever, businesses will want their IT departments to enable and deliver new innovative digital capabilities with agility.

For IT departments this presents a challenge and opportunity. The challenge is that IT leaders in the past have not always shown how their services are supporting their stakeholders business priorities. The opportunity is for IT leaders to start using new tools and techniques to align to their business’s priorities.

For most enterprises budgeting is an annual exercise. IT teams should seize the opportunity the annual budget cycle presents by using Business Architecture tools and techniques as part of their IT budget submission process. I’m calling this approach BA4IT.

I’d like to highlight an example of successfully using this BA4IT approach. I recently had the opportunity to work with the IT leadership of a Canadian enterprise regarding their annual IT budget. The IT leadership faced some familiar challenges:

  • The executives at the enterprise did not see IT as a strategic business partner.
  • The IT budget was not increasing.
  • The executives wanted “digitization” without understanding the investment required to embark on the journey.
  • Organization-wide skills shortages (especially in IT).

The IT leadership had already created a detailed technology invest plan so we had a great foundation to work with. We agreed that we needed to create an executive document to complement the detailed invest plan. We started by reviewing the enterprise’s business priorities and identifying SMART outcomes for each priority.

One example was collaboration, the business need to improve the way the internal and external teams worked together. We defined the SMART outcome to be achieving daily usage of collaboration tool within 12 months for the internal and external teams. We would measure this with by surveying the users at the end of the 12 month period. This linked the IT investment request to a measurable outcome for the business.

Once we had that completed, we focused on creating a story board that visually linked the business priorities and outcomes (the Why), the next generation IT services (the What) and the IT budget items (the How) to new innovations to improve business processes for the users (the Capabilities).

Storyboard example

Once we had that completed, we focused on creating a story board that visually linked the business priorities and outcomes (the Why), the next generation IT services (the What) and the IT budget items (the How) to new innovations to improve business processes for the users (the Capabilities).

Senior management liked the new approach of focusing on the business priorities and invited the IT leadership to present their IT business investment case to the corporate board. And… IT is also now a strategic partner with the executive team!

If you want to use the BA4IT approach in your own IT practice a great starting point is to get a clear understanding of the stakeholders and their concerns by doing some homework, review your enterprises org charts, annual reports and internal and external users of your services. Try to identify the top 4 or 5 business priorities and the outcomes the business wants.

In the future I’ll go into more detail on stakeholder management, business priorities, drivers and outcomes and some of the other topics in this blog.

Business Architect Leads Digital Transformation Opportunities in 2021

2020 has been a year like no other — a year marked by the incalculable loss of life; by the economic devastation of a pandemic that has disrupted people, families, governments, and economies around the world.   As enterprises have reacted to the pandemic, new business trends and priorities have emerged, in particular the acceleration of the digital transformation of key business processes, for internal as well as for external stakeholders – starting with the customers.  

The digitization of business processes has been underway for some time and has become a competitive advantage across many industry verticals.   The pandemic has accelerated this trend and there is no reason to believe that the trend will slow down once the pandemic ends.

“Digital Native” enterprises, i.e. those born with strong digital capabilities have leveraged this competitive advantage to expand, as more consumers moved to access services and products online.  Examples include: Amazon, Shopify, Facebook, Salesforce, Google, Etsy, and Netflix. 

But non-digital Native industry verticals (ex. Agriculture and Mining) are also investing in digital capabilities.  Two Canadian examples are Nutrien Ag Solutions and Teck Resources. 

Continue reading “Business Architect Leads Digital Transformation Opportunities in 2021”