Forrester’s Q2 2011 Global Current State Of Business Architecture Online Survey found that organizations are optimistic about the effort it takes to create a business architecture – overly optimistic. The prevailing view is that it will be significantly easier to create business architecture than it is to create enterprise technical architecture. A significant number of Forrester’s survey respondents – 63% – thought they would create the core business architecture in less than two years. They are clearly not taking into account the multitude of challenges that make building business architecture an arduous and time-consuming task.

 I talk with business architects every day. Here are the types of challenges they tell me they are facing:

 No standard tools or methodologies are available. Existing EA templates and approaches offer little value. Much of the BA’s work is exploration and innovation. It takes time to find the right path.

 Business architecture has to be sold. The overwhelming majority of current business architecture efforts are not chartered by business executives. This means they must be promoted and sold. Additionally, business architecture is a complex product, and every sales professional knows that complex products have elongated sales cycles.

 Multiple views are the norm. Business architecture artifacts are not one size fits all. There are many different viewpoints of business issues and opportunities, including strategy, capability, and process, among others. Business executives vary in their perspectives, so multiple views of each viewpoint will have to be tailored to fit the specific audience.  

 Business relationships are a requirement. BAs can’t just huddle in a corner and create a bunch of fancy business architecture PowerPoint slides. They have to work with business managers and leaders to understand what is important and iterate though multiple architecture views to arrive at business architecture products that are meaningful to business managers. Unless you already have broad and deep relationships with senior business managers, it is going to take a significant amount of time to create them.

 Political and cultural hurdles abound. Current business relationship owners in IT are likely to be resistive to BAs having free rein with “their” clients. Business leaders themselves will question why they should spend time with BAs. Many organizations have strong cultural biases built in to keep everyone focused on the current task and objective. It is often hard to get business leaders to think past next Tuesday.

What are your business architecture challenges?