by Whynde Kuehn
Business architecture is becoming a critical discipline for bridging the gap between strategy and execution. As a result, many organizations are establishing their own internal business architecture practices. For some, this can be a long and turbulent journey.
I have had the pleasure and honor to work alongside many companies over the years to help them establish their business architecture practices as the discipline has been maturing. There is much we can learn from these pioneers on how to build a successful business architecture practice. Here are a few of the top recommendations.
1. Know who you are and communicate it simply.
The first step in establishing a business architecture practice is to define it. This will guide all other steps and decisions in the future. Understand and document the value that business architecture will provide to your organization and to whom, and show how it aligns with your strategy and goals. Communicate simply and consistently using business-friendly words and visuals. Focus on business results and quantify them where possible.
2. Build a foundation of support.
Like any business, establishing a business architecture practice requires investment in marketing and relationship building, not just the services provided. Focus on building support within the organization both top down and bottom up. Of course business executive sponsorship is ideal, so if you have it, leverage it. Build relationships and formalize integration points with all related functions, processes and disciplines upstream and downstream.
3. Take the leap.
In the beginning, opportunities to apply business architecture are often won not given. The business will continue functioning “good enough” until the business architecture leader or team identifies an opportunity to help and asks for the chance to do so. Execute upon this precious opportunity and then quantify the results and tell the story. A business architecture practice is built one win and one advocate at a time, until it becomes integrated into the fabric of the business.
4. Invest in building a strong team of business architecture practitioners. Don’t dilute the role and position them well.
The people are what make the business architecture practice, so ensure that hiring, training and ongoing mentorship a top priority. Formally define the business architect role as distinctly different from others, and put the best practitioners you can find in it. Position the role within the organization to succeed—at the right level and reporting to the right leader.
5. Take a practical, value-focused approach to building your business architecture practice.
There are always two aspects to focus on: building and applying your business architecture and maturing your business architecture practice. Allocate time and ensure priority for building a solid practice because it will allow you to scale and deliver consistent, high quality results to the organization. Take a practical approach to building your practice and do “just enough” to support your needs as you grow. For example, if you are just starting a business architecture practice, you might want to consider establishing more “lightweight” methodology documentation and governance processes and then get more robust over time as your team and scope grows.
6. Stay active in the business architecture community. Keep learning, evolving and contributing.
Business architecture is continuing to rapidly evolve as a discipline. Even once you have matured your practice, stay close to what’s happening and get involved in the global and local business architecture community. This will not only help you stay sharp and competitive, but will give you an opportunity to shape this exciting discipline.
Whether you are just starting out or well on your way, have patience and remember that establishing a business architecture practice within an organization is a journey that takes time. One step will lead to another and the benefit to the organization will be worth the wait.
Enjoy the journey!

*hear Whynde Kuehn present at the January eSummit. Register here:

Whynde is Principal of S2E Consulting Inc. She is a long-time business architecture practitioner, educator and industry thought leader. She is a former practice leader and has developed business architecture for some of the largest business transformations in the world. Whynde also has extensive experience helping clients to build their own business architecture practices. Whynde is a Co-Founder, Board Member and Editorial Board Member of the Business Architecture Guild. Passionate about using business as a force for good and systematic change, she also founded Metanoia Global Inc., which helps social entrepreneurs to start, scale and sustain successful businesses.