It is that dreaded time of year again where we have to report via the performance management system (PMS) on our individual performance and the value we bring to the organization. I say dreaded, because we all know that in reality the goals and objectives were set some time ago in the past, maybe a year ago, and a lot has happened since that time. The person you report to may have changed, you were redirected to other tasks, and so on. Everything seemed possible at the time of the objective setting, but now the reality hits that you were or may have been far too optimistic about your own capability. The self-assessment is difficult as you are not sure whether your manager has the same view as you. You believe you met the objective, but does their expectation meet your actual delivery? If a good performance relates to more money, the pressure and stress builds.

So whilst I was preparing for my Orlando Business Architecture Forum presentation I started to think about how business architecture teams measure and manage their performance. One of my next reports for Forrester’s business architecture playbook addresses BA performance. It was also a hot topic for the EA Council members in Orlando. I had a number of 1-on-1’s with clients who particularly asked about BA metrics and performance — in particular, “What do other business architecture teams do?”

I started listing the questions that, when answered by clients, would lead to a very valuable report for all BA leaders:

Do you measure your BA’s performance? Clients often advise me that they have fairly mature BA practices. However, very few can articulate how they measure their performance, and often comment that the business asks them to demonstrate how BA adds value. So, it would be useful to understand whether BA leaders measure their team’s performance and why they do or don’t.

Who sets the BA team goals and objectives? Now in individual performance management systems it is common for the individual and manager to discuss, define, and agree on the goals and objectives for the year or performance period. It is also common for these goals and objectives to be SMART based. More advanced organizations will have team goals, and therefore the discussion will align the individual goals and objectives to the team’s goals and objectives. So, BA leaders, who sets your goals and objectives: you, your manager, both of you, or someone else?

How does the structure of your program affect performance objectives? In some organizations the BA team is a dedicated team of individuals. In others it is a virtual or extended team comprising a core BA team and subject matter experts. Does your BA performance system include all contributors or is it specific to the core BA team?

What is the focus of the BA goals and objectives? In today’s world it is often said that the customer is king, and therefore the focus of any business unit should be related to the customer. This could be in terms of customer experience, satisfaction, and so on. Initial discussions on BA suggest that BA teams focus inwardly on the development of the business architecture and thus its artifacts, rather than on the use of business architecture that is measured. This is analogous in my mind to past I&O teams measuring server uptime as the five 9’s. What is your focus and what metrics do you use?

How frequently do BA efforts get measured? Is the measurement of BA efforts a single event, for example annually, or does it occurs more frequently? Again, how often are BA efforts measured and why?

If you are currently measuring, or are in the process of defining, your BA PMS, please share your metrics, methods, experience, and thoughts by commenting on this blog post.