Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Standards in Business Archecture - "A Land Grab" ?

The other day I came across a list of myths about business architecture  that were being dispatched into the "shredder" with vigour.

One myth that was being torn down was.

“There is no commonly defined approach to business architecture”.

I was really unhappy about the language being used and the message being promoted:

The myth was dismissed by saying: Yes there is! It is well defined and used across the world, it goes on to say that: those that claim otherwise -saying “business architecture is an art not a science - are self-serving and prolonging the journey to achieving business architectural value” Wow….

A pretty radical claim– perhaps a bit arrogant - don’t you think?

In other words we know what business architecture is; we created the standards and everyone else outside of our club can just go away.

This would be a more accurate and genuine statement:

“There are organisations who publish proprietary methodologies for the application of business architecture.”  

There is nothing wrong with the standards that this group is promoting, in fact most of what they say is pretty sensible. What is objectionable is the idea that this then becomes the so called de-facto standard.  It is a standard - yes - but to claim it as a common standard - the only way- is "pushing the envelope".

Are we saying that  - "if you don’t use these standards or methods then you not doing business architecture?" Are we constraining business architecture by trying to get everyone to produce the same stuff? I would argue yes - many other agree too.

On another occasion I saw a post saying 
“we had a consultancy in here that produced a slide deck that didn’t conform to standards” -

as if this was a heinous crime. In reality why would I pay high day rates to get standard materials? I want consultants to be innovative and present new ways of thinking and ways of communicating messages.

On reading the myths and the proposed approach business architecture must therefore mean a much tighter environment that I and many I associate with think. For example I know one individual that dislikes capability maps intensely and he thinks value chains are they way to go; is he less of a business architect than others? In fact this  individual is a substantial strategy author with many books to his name and years of experience; but if he doesn't use capability mapping then this isn't business architecture say the standards body!

Many colleagues find that their business stakeholders don’t like the artefacts that these so called standards produce and therefore produce different materials which are artistically crafted to communicate skilfully their messages. They use their skills to craft models and diagrams to satisfy messages and client needs. 

Please note the use of the phrase “artistically crafted” so from their perspective is business architecture and art or a science? Actually the answer is probably a mix of the two.

There are two forces at work here: standardisation and innovation and your view will probably be different depending which camp you sit in:

  • If you are an I.T. person looking outwards to get clarity from the business and then communicating those findings back to your software developers then standards are great. Observe, record and populate the standards.Same format, same look; consistency is great for coders and analysts all of whom know the language and taxonomy – super. 
  • However if you are shaping a change and need to select techniques and innovate or motivate others to identify requirements, messages and present pictures of the future then standards get in the way.
Let us postulate which group the standards body originate from?

If I have an operating model that shows how the organisation works to create value for customers and it is done using Domains of Change: POLISM or CCPPOLDAT or some other construct; is that now not business architecture. Perhaps my definition is too broad?

Some say The I.T and project management world has been ruined by methodology based standards, accreditation and certification. Only last month articles were on LinkedIn saying PMP and Prince2 were the worst thing that has happened to PM, devaluing the profession and turning project managers into administrators.    Why has this happened?

“Surprise - Surprise” Money. Professional Associations, Clubs, Guilds and the like have membership fees, they run accreditation and certification programmes - more fees. 

They appoint and certify training organisations - more fees. They work with software vendors to produce tools that work to the standards - licensing fees and so it goes on.

Fine create a methodology to sell and promote – carry on please - but have the courtesy to promote it as it is a proprietary approach not as a panacea or universal standard.