How to move to business architecture, and a 'bigger picture' for SOA

Forrester analyst Randy Heffner: 'There's been a maturity around business architecture in the past two or three years.'
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

At last week's ebizQ/TechTarget's SOA & Application Integration conference, Forrester analyst and SOA proponent Randy Heffner provided the following advice for moving to a business architecture-driven approach, which extends service orientation across the enterprise:

  • It's about business capabilities, not technology: "Stop referring to applications by their primary technology," Heffner advises. "Don't take that technology focus. Maybe you should refer to it as 'the system that partly does customer care,' or 'partly provides for the customer care capability.' Don't refer to it as 'the event-driven app' or what have you."
  • Business metrics: "Be sure that every key member of your project understands the  business metrics.," Heffner says. "Seeing the business metrics at a lower level is  a key cultural shift, that gets people focused on the business rather than the technology."
  • Look at the big picture: "Develop a high-level draft capabilities map to find project synergies," Heffner advises. For example, you may find processes that touch upon customer care. Also, he adds, find  "ways to connect the capabiltiy to other capabilities."

"These are the things that will allow you to take on the bigger picture around SOA and  business capability architecture is the right foundation for that bigger picture," Heffner says.

Business architecture, which couples enterprise architecture with business drivers, has been gaining traction as of late, he adds. "While it took a few years, business architecture as a discipline is emerging within enterprise architecture, he says. "There's been a maturity around business architecture in the past two or three years."

Underpinning business architecture is SOA, which serves as a business design concept, Heffner adds. Thus, it's time to look at how SOA shapes the rest of the business beyond IT. "SOA is important, but its just a part of what were doing," he says.  "It fits in with the rest of what we're doing because it's providing the core transactions and queries that we need for given business capabilities, like, for example, customer care -- get customer, get account, or get an invoice as our capabilities."

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