Is an Business Architecture Reference model necessary?

By Ramsay Millar from

Designing an enterprise’s SOA to work with business initiatives is a significant challenge facing
SOA projects. Besides web services and SOA implementations we must consider business
intelligence from business processes. SOA solutions must deliver business flexibility for rapidly
changing processes, business and data rules in a coordinated manner for both people and

Managing business and IT architecture models are strategic business capabilities and they need
to be held directly accountable to meet strategic outcomes. Communicating models and working
together is how we will be measured in order to realize the dreams of SOA of flexibility, cost
savings and profits.

A business model is rewarded through attention to operational excellence. How do we get
operational excellence? The service quality movement led by Edward Deming at Toyota, proven
in the US by Jack Welch at GE in manufacturing and the lately in the services economy. SOA
projects need to resonate with “service quality” practices. We need to explore frameworks for
describing semantic business vocabulary models. The OMG Business Motivation Model
(BMM) and TOGAF Business Architecture are a good beginning. We need to describe the
implied semantic business model using a holistic or systems thinking approach when designing
business solutions (a people and machines collaboration view) and avoid continuing SOA project

Recently, I researched for this article using LinkedIn. To read all comments I urge you to join
these groups. I posted my question on a number of LinkedIn forums. The most informed
discussions, came from The Business Architecture Community, The Open Group, TOGAF for
Architecture, and Gartner Enterprise Architecture (Xchange). Business architects wrote
emphatically, “yes”. I was deluged by excellent comments and in a nutshell.. Here are the main
themes I read summarized as follows.

  • “Business architecture reference models provide a holistic picture first to ensure the value
    created through the SOA projects fits into the big picture and aligns to strategy of business
    operations and initiatives”.
  • “I consider a business reference architecture a key model for any type of project. I use
    reference architecture to support SOA project as well. All SOA solution blueprints were
    created based on the reference architecture and used through solution architecture review
    (governance) process and adjusted throughout the SDLC.”
  • “Yes, it is a critical component for SOA projects. Per the Open Group, the enterprise
    architecture (under which the business architecture is a key pillar) addresses the overall
    construction of the enterprise”
  • “I agree with those of you who underline the importance of traceability links joining from
    business capabilities toward SOA components. The TOGAF business architecture meta
    model needs to evolve and measure impacts of strategic changes (driver, goal, objective).
    Business capabilities also need to be structured and related to service level agreements
    (SLAs). At the implementation level we need to see direct linkage from business capabilities
    and SLAs that are orchestrated by business processes (people and machines).

In closing I found some of the most very good work on integrating business architecture
frameworks by Birol Berkem. He recently published at What are your views and concerns?

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