Mar 282012

Business Process Architecture is the foundational framework of an organization’s process architecture. It describes,  in a structured and business leader friendly manner, what the business does, or ideally would do, to achieve its mission and deliver its strategic and business outcomes. In other words it answer’s the How question of your business architecture. There are many ways to describe what a business does. Business Process Architecture takes the approach of segmenting what the business does into a hierarchy of business processes. A business process always produces and delivers something to an external or internal customer and often crosses business function boundaries. Here are three business processes for a business that provides products to its customers:

  • “Develop Enterprise Strategy” sets the direction for product development, but also includes other functional areas such as HR and Finance.
  • “Establish Products” determines the details of what products should be produced and plans what resources are needed to provide the product.
  • “Optimize Partner Relationships” provides strong channels for acquiring, selling and/or distributing the product and may include a number of different business functional areas depending on the partnering strategy.

The definition of what business processes are needed to accomplish an organization’s mission, generally remain fairly stable, except when going through business transformation. The design of how the business processes are implemented may change periodically due to business process improvement, strategy changes, regulation and policy changes, etc.

The second aspect of business process architecture is a description of what type of business resources (information, people, technology, infrastructure) are required to effectively execute the business process. Again, these descriptions use terminology that is familiar and meaningful to business leaders in the organization. This enables business leaders to use the business process architecture to quickly identify areas of the business that may be impacted by strategic changes or improvements to business resources. This is also what links your business process architecture with the rest of your enterprise architecture, including types of information (Information Architecture), human resource skill and expertise (Organization Architecture),  information systems (IT Architecture) and other technology, infrastructure and physical resources and (Technical Architecture)

In summary, Business Process Architecture defines what an organization does to implement its business strategy by depicting

  • what business processes are needed and the manner in which they fit together;
  • which business processes contribute to which business strategic goals; and
  • what types of business resources are needed by each business process

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