Business Architecture Practice Maturity vs. Value
Understanding how the maturity of a business architecture practice and its value work together helps establish a successful practice that is vital to the success of an organization, and at the same time is sustainable and scalable in the long term.
Both maturity and value measure the overall success of a business architecture practice:
Maturity of a practice indicates how well the practice is structured, resourced, and positioned to support the business.
Value of a practice indicates how much and how well the practice actively supports different business scenarios such as, execution of a business strategy or enabling a business/digital transformation, and supports decision-making by providing the right insights at the right time to the right people.
Measuring maturity and value
Before diving into the relationship between maturity and value, let's look at a few existing approaches to measure the value and maturity of a business architecture practice.
The Business Architecture Maturity Model® (BAMM®), developed and maintained by the Business Architecture Guild in ‘A Guide to the Business Architecture Body of Knowledge (BIZBOK® Guide)’, provides a comprehensive and structured approach to measure the overall maturity of a business architecture practice across 23 different categories. In the BAMM®, the value of a practice is mostly reflected in the higher levels of maturity, both in the overall rating and for each category. Below is a sample maturity assessment based on the categories of BAMM®.
Another approach is a Value Assessment Tool developed by Whynde Kuehn to measure the value of a business architecture practice across different categories from both internal alignment and external adoption perspectives.
In her recent book, ‘Strategy to Reality’, Whynde Kuehn also provides sample ideas for measuring both business architecture value and maturity. Below is selected measurement ideas extracted from Table 6.2 of the book. Please refer to Table 6.2 in Strategy to Reality book for the complete list of ideas.
Business Architecture Value to the Organization
Maturity of the Business Architecture Practice
Stakeholder Satisfaction Score
Business Architecture Maturity Score
Business Architects Hired, Trained, Certified
Customer Satisfaction Increased
Quality of Business Architecture Content Mapped
Cost Saved or Avoided
Teams Integrated With
Stakeholder Communication Deliveries
Relationship between maturity and value
Looking at different ways of measuring maturity and value, it is clear that maturity and value reinforce each other. As a business architecture practice matures, it is better positioned and equipped to provide more value to a business. As the value of business architecture increases, it positions the practice as a strategic discipline for further growth and maturation. In systems thinking terms, this is a reinforcing virtuous feedback loop.*
Based on this reinforcing feedback loop, higher maturity of a business architecture practice in an organization should reflect the higher value of the practice. The ultimate goal is to reach to a highly mature practice that provides strong business value with characteristics highlighted in the chart below.
Quite a simple relationship, right? Not so in practice.
Maturity and value in practice
In practice, the maturity level does not exactly reflect the value in a linear (1:1 correlation) fashion. There is also the reality of resource constraints, which forces organizations to focus more on either maturity or value delivery. Depending on where we put more emphasis throughout our journey, what happens in practice is that the maturity and value move in a non-linear fashion.
Two scenarios below further clarify this:
First, there is a relatively low mature practice that provides value but generating more value is impeded due to its low maturity.
Second, there is a practice that might be higher in maturity but not leveraged in a way that provides value to its full potential. The lack of higher value delivery then limits further growth and maturation of the practice.
The figure below highlights few characteristics of these two scenarios:
These two scenarios are quite common across many organizations and if the practice is stuck long enough in either situation, it will most likely fail. The obvious solution to course correct is to pivot towards either a higher maturity where we already have higher value or towards higher value where we already have the higher maturity.
However, a more preventive and systemic approach is to plan ahead before starting the journey to establish the practice. Value delivery is the primary focus here, since if we don't show the value of the practice quite early on, we will most likely be faced with the challenges of "selling" the practice to the organization and gaining momentum to further grow and mature the practice. This, in turn, would jeopardize the success of the practice in the long term.
This highlights the importance of a stepwise approach, in which, once we define what the value of the practice is, we then build enough of the maturity to deliver value at the moments that matter most to the organization. We then keep building the maturity just in time to support the value delivery required at those moments. As the value is understood and appreciated, it will generate the momentum to gradually improve the maturity to support further value delivery (i.e., accelerating the reinforcing virtuous feedback loop mentioned above).
Let's look at a few real-life cases of how and why different organizations succeed or fail in their business architecture practice journey.
A relatively small organization establishes business architecture as part of its overall enterprise architecture (EA) practice. The EA team is well respected due to having highly experienced practitioners and is positioned strategically to support the annual strategic planning cycle.
There is, however, no business architecture knowledgebase and no active engagements in transformational initiatives. Business architecture gets engaged in a large and critical transformation in the organization and quickly establishes a transformation framework by building relevant value streams and capabilities in the scope of that transformation. This artifact acts as a "management dashboard" to be updated and reviewed at each project steering committee meeting and drives a lot of decisions throughout the transformation journey, including the tracking of the progress of the transformation itself.
While there is no core baseline established nor formalized role and engagement model, the value of business architecture is well understood and appreciated. In order to address the low maturity, business architecture then works on building its core baseline starting with the capability map and further leveraging business architecture across the portfolio of investments.
This is a case of a high value/low maturity practice, where the organization pivots towards higher maturity levels to make its practice more sustainable and scalable in the long term.
A mid-size organization has no formally defined business architecture practice, however, it has highly skilled and seasoned practitioners, as business architects, using different tools and techniques. It's the typical "smart people" model. A lot of strategic direction-setting workshops are facilitated by these practitioners, and they participate heavily in upstream (towards strategy) activities and transformational initiatives across the organization.
The small team is regarded as a trusted advisor to the senior leadership and is called on to facilitate and demystify cross-departmental business challenges and scenarios. It's great when business architects are "pulled" into strategic conversations. That's a clear sign that the value of business architecture is very well understood and appreciated.
There is a capability map that is developed "opportunistically" (depending on scenarios that the team has engagements in) and most of the externally-facing value streams are documented. Although there is still no formally defined business architect role, structure, and knowledgebase, putting a lot of focus on the "value" of the practice early on has created the momentum for the team and has made the practice a success "so far"!
There is no doubt about the value of business architecture across the whole organization, however, the reliance on the "smart people" model and lack of structure highlights the lack of sustainability and risk of losing momentum in the long term.
This is a case of high value/low maturity practice that does require the organization to pivot to higher maturity levels before it’s too late!
A mid-size organization establishes and formalizes its business architecture practice with a fully resourced team including a manager and few senior and junior business architects. The team starts building the core baseline knowledgebase (value streams, capabilities, and the cross-mapping of the two) and in a course of 2 to 3 years completes the mapping of the core baseline.
During this time, the team provides light (mostly reactive) support to few initiatives and mostly downstream (towards execution). The team continues building the rest of the knowledgebase including a stakeholder map and an initiative map, and further formalizes the practice by incorporating a capabilities assessment into the strategic planning cycle and integrating with other teams across the organization.
However, it still struggles with demonstrating the value of its contributions back to the organization and also creating the momentum for its growth. The root-cause is that most of the engagements are transactional as opposed to value-add. Although there is an initial executive support, it quickly fades due to the lack of high value engagements and speed from the team.
The practice is stuck at the bottom right quadrant of the "Business Value vs. Maturity" chart (high maturity/low value) and stuck there long enough until it is dismantled after 5 years since its inception.
Each of these cases are plotted on the "Business Value vs. Maturity" chart below:
If you have already established your business architecture practice, you can also plot where your practice is on the "Business Value vs. Maturity" chart and review your approach towards a successful practice in the long term.
Or if you are just thinking about establishing your practice, you can plan early on to stay on the path for a long-term success with the primary focus on generating and delivering value, while not losing sight of building maturity in alignment with that value.
* Business Value and Maturity also have their own feedback loops, which are well articulated in Figure 6.1 in Strategy to Reality by Whynde Kuehn.