More Focus On Business Architecture In TOGAF

A new version of TOGAF®, the Open Group standard for enterprise architecture, has recently been released. The TOGAF standard, version 9.2 brings a number of changes and improvements. An important change is the restructuring of TOGAF into a core and a number of additional guides, which together form the TOGAF Body of Knowledge. A general change is the refinement of the terminology, including the alignment with the ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010:2011 standard and other standards. The most interesting change is the enrichment of the business architecture part of TOGAF with business capabilities and value streams. These additions move TOGAF further away from the IT focus it had in the past. In this blog, I’ll further describe these two additions.

The most interesting change is the enrichment of the business architecture part of TOGAF with business capabilities and value streams.

Business Capabilities

Business capabilities are not entirely new in TOGAF; the capability-based planning technique was already part of the previous version.

In the new version business capabilities get even more focus and attention. This starts with more clarity on terminology, with a clear distinction between capabilities and business capabilities. A capability refers to an ability that an organization, person or system possesses. A business capability is a particular ability that a business may possess or exchange to achieve a specific purpose. A capability is thus a more general term, and also includes IT and architecture capabilities. A capability-based view of architecture puts emphasis on what the business needs in order to achieve its goals. It requires identifying, categorizing, and decomposing the business capabilities required for the business to have the ability to deliver value to one or more stakeholders. A business capability map is introduced to provide a self-contained view of the business that is independent of the current organizational structure, business processes, and information systems. It provides a level of abstraction that the organization understands, and is thus a very appropriate way to talk with people about the changes that are needed.

Value Streams

Value streams are totally new in TOGAF.

A value stream is a representation of an end-to-end collection of value-adding activities that create an overall result for a customer, stakeholder, or end user. They are a result of a breakdown of activities that an organization performs to create the value being exchanged with stakeholders. They provide context and a grouping for the business capabilities. They provide valuable stakeholder context into why the organization needs these business capabilities. For every stage in the value chain, the business capabilities that are needed can be identified. The result can be depicted in a new artifact called a value stream stages catalog.

Value streams have the same advantages as business capabilities in terms of easy communication with business stakeholders. They enable communication in business terminology, in terms of things that people recognize. They can be refined into processes at a later stage. Similarly, they can be translated together with the business capabilities in an organization structure. An organization map can be used to show how the organization relates to the business capabilities and thus also to the value stream stages.

Understanding people

More focus on business architecture is important since IT is just a means to an end. Business capabilities and value streams are an essential part of the business architecture, and the inclusion of them in the new version of TOGAF is thus an important improvement. The most important question to ask in terms of enterprise architecture is “why?”, which in a lot of cases traces back to business capabilities and value streams. I think this question is heavily underused by enterprise architects in practice. This idea is also part of the 5 whys technique.

However, be aware that the true cause of most things are the personal convictions, interests and emotions of people. True enterprise architecture thus starts with understanding people and the way they think.

Danny Greefhorst
Danny Greefhorst, MSc. is a Principal Consultant and Director of ArchiXL, an enterprise architecture consulting firm in The Netherlands. He acts as an architect and consultant for clients in the financial and public sector. Danny is responsible for the EA portal Via Nova Architectura and is a member of the board of the architecture section of the Dutch Computer Association (Ngi-NGN). He is the author of the book, “Architecture Principles - The Cornerstones of Enterprise Architecture”. In 2011 he received a medal of honor from the Dutch Architecture Forum for his contributions to the architecture community.