What Is Enterprise Architecture? (Definition And Goals)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 29 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Organisations often visualise themselves as enterprises composed of departments and teams. The contributions and interactions of individual departments creates the framework for an enterprise's operation. Understanding the purpose and framework of enterprise architecture can help you make a more informed career choice about working in any field. In this article, we discuss what enterprise architecture is, review its role, explore its key functions and the core competencies required, discover its goals, highlight who works in business architecture and examine some useful frameworks to consider.

What Is Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise architecture or business architecture is the structural arrangement of a project, department or company. This structure may contain various components, such as technology, information, processes and applications. The architecture determines how these components interact with each other to function as a complete mechanism. An enterprise architect analyses these connections to identify the strengths and weaknesses in an enterprise's functional framework and develops or implements methodologies to optimise functions and operations.

Some enterprise architects may focus on the development of particular areas of an enterprise, like individual departments or processes. Architects who focus on information and data may assess digital and physical data management processes, while a business-focused architect may consider working on hierarchy, policies and standards. Enterprise architects may also focus on information technology (IT) structures within an enterprise, such as application systems, network infrastructure, software or hardware.

Related: What Are Business Architect Skills? (Definition And Examples)

What Is The Role Of Business Architecture?

Business architecture practices typically adhere to a set of rules that combine the best practices for creating processes with business knowledge and creative thinking to reach key business goals. Professionals in this domain may act as advocates for consistency and quality throughout various system clusters within an organisation. Their work entails enquiring into the workings of each of these clusters, fostering technical and cultural dialogue and establishing the logical framework that binds various systems together into a working whole. To achieve future business objectives, it is vital to building agile, adaptable and robust infrastructure.

To address opportunities and resolve issues, business architecture combines many distinct talents and specialised expertise. Most enterprise architects work full time, with the occasional need for overtime work. They may work in an office setting most of the time. This employment involves very little physical activity, although it requires fulfilment of demanding deadlines and performance criteria.

What Are The Key Functions Of Business Architecture?

Some of the key functions of business architecture include:

  • Defining, implementing and executing procedures for creation, upkeep and management of a firm

  • Updating and maintaining important deliverables

  • Establishing and maintaining business units and information systems to understand business operations, financial drivers, key requirements, technological solutions and alternative approaches

  • Using leadership to resolve problems within various departments and an organisation as a whole

  • Continuous investigation and evaluation of new analytical methods for business development

Core Competencies In The Field Of Business Architecture

The role of an enterprise architect demands a wide range of skills, such as:

  • Problem formulation: involves identifying actual problems that require attention along with the additional factors and connections that may have an impact on feasible solutions

  • Problem-solving: involves analysing, debugging, researching, evaluating and communicating options for developing solutions that adequately address organisational problems

  • Communication: involves establishing a mutual understanding among all parties concerned to an issue and its solution

  • Leadership: involves tracking and producing results on and evaluating crucial business decisions, like expansion

Related: Leadership Roles (With Examples And Functions Of Leadership)

Business Architecture Goals

These are some goals of business architecture:

Optimising work processes

Designing an enterprise's architecture involves assessing the work processes to see how different departments work independently and together to accomplish their goals. Analysing work processes helps determine which areas might benefit from redesign for optimising performance. Work processes also include the technology, networks and equipment each department uses and how these components can aid organisational improvement.

Coordinating teamwork across different departments

Departments and employees are an integral part of the structure of a business and how well they work together can affect overall work performance. To create more efficient processes, architects identify opportunities for teamwork and create platforms to facilitate it. This can help speed up performance through the organisation of tasks within or between departments. This enables professionals to build connections and conduct collaborative work.

Related: 10 Powerful Tips For Successful Teamwork

Enterprise structuring and redesigning

By evaluating an enterprise's present business strategies, data assets, operating systems and technological infrastructure, an architect can identify the company's strengths. They can redesign the company's architecture by highlighting those strengths and minimising weaknesses. It is also important to analyse what components of the structure are essential to company functions. Assessing the strength of these areas can help determine what departments need further development.

Customising decision-making strategies

After they conduct an analysis, an enterprise architect may develop plans and make decisions to tailor the architecture to the key requirements of an enterprise. An architect may consult with enterprise leaders, shareholders and other employees at multiple levels to understand what strategies accommodate the interests of all involved parties. Because most enterprises have unique needs and functions, an architect may use innovative methods to meet these demands creatively.

Strengthening IT security

While assessing the technological hardware and software that an enterprise uses, architects also consider security flaws and risks. With the amount of sensitive information and data transferred through network servers and other processing systems, the integrity of information is an aspect that architects work to safeguard. Strengthening the security of technology and data mitigates the impact in the event of breaches and events that disrupt workflows.

Determining a baseline for enterprise performance

Business architecture considers a company's present performance levels along with past performance to average them out and set a baseline. This baseline can help evaluate when performance is lacking, improving or remaining constant. Understanding the baseline for performance in an enterprise can help track and predict growth.

Related: What Is Performance Management? A Comprehensive Guide

Assessing risk factors and ensuring regulatory compliance

Developing business architecture may involve assessing the impact of risk factors by evaluating organisational processes and policies to see if they comply with local, national and international regulations. Regularly assessing risk factors can help keep company regulations up to date and reflective of optimised practices in an industry or sector. An enterprise architect may implement scheduled compliance checks and produce periodic reports to minimise potential risks.

Related: What Is Risk Management? (Crucial Steps And Strategies)

Implementing management planning standards

Designing or redesigning architecture involves management planning workflows. This helps architects execute new policies and technological transitions. Planning often begins with addressing the most easily achievable changes. Progressively, architects devise procedures and methodologies with the help of top management officials for more complex system restructuring.

Related: Your Guide To The Functions Of Management

Who Works In Business Architecture?

To work as an enterprise architect, you may require an undergraduate degree in computer science, business administration or a closely related discipline. Five to ten years of relevant experience is ideal as this is a decision-making role with a requirement for leadership. Depending on the nature of the business, you may also require a master's degree in business administration or a related discipline.

Most employers search for candidates with experience in data sourcing, enterprise data management and financial modelling. Cloud computing, system architecture, strategy creation and enterprise solutions development are additional talents and areas of knowledge for these professionals. An enterprise architect requires strong communication, analytical, leadership, teamwork and problem-solving abilities to be successful in their position.

What Are Some Useful Architectural Frameworks For Enterprises?

These are some useful architectural frameworks for enterprises:

The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF)

TOGAF is one of the most widely implemented architecture methodologies. It evaluates all aspects of an enterprise, from IT and technological infrastructure to business strategies. TOGAF establishes a standardised set of terminology and classification of components and coordination of business methodologies.

Related: What Is The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF)?

Zachman Framework

The Zachman framework organises all aspects of an enterprise into categories to analyse for structural connections. It uses six descriptive areas of focus pertaining to data, function, network, people, time and motivation, along with the six-player perspectives from the point of view of planners, owners, designers, builders, subcontractors and the enterprise as a whole. The web that connects these 12 points creates an optimal structure for company-wide communication.

Generalised Enterprise Reference Architecture and Methodology (GERAM)

GERAM involves the use of generative models and data visualisation to represent an enterprise's architecture. These models allow for a tangible analysis of a company's structure. Using models, this approach manipulates distinct data points and evaluates the outcomes of potential structural changes before stakeholders implement them.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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