The term Business Analyst is broad. The name alone implies that a business analyst performs some form of business analysis, but that’s not very specific.
When using the term business analyst broadly it may in fact be describing any number of more specialized roles, including:
- Business Process Engineers
- Product Managers
- Systems Analysts
- Requirements Engineers
- Financial Analysts
- Business Architects
- Usability Analysts
- Data Analysts
In comparison, a Business Architect focuses on the activity of creating and managing the business architecture. So what is a business architecture exactly?
The OMG Business Architecture Special Interest Group and the Business Architecture Institute have developed the following definition.
“A blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization and is used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands."
It’s a good one-liner but requires much more detail to fully articulate what is intended by the term business architecture.
A business architecture describes the structure of a business. Much like an architect creates the blueprints for a skyscraper a business architect creates and manages the blueprints for how the business should be constructed.
The business architecture primarily focuses on the business organizational structure, the business capabilities, the business value streams or business processes, business knowledge, and finally the business strategy.
~The organizational structure of the business defines how the organization and its people are structured into business units, teams, and reporting hierarchies. It describes management of the business units and teams as well as the relationship between people and roles.
~The business capabilities describe the primary business functions of the organization and typically distinguishes between those business functions with are supplier facing, customer facing, business execution, or business management and administration.
~The value streams of the business (business processes) describe how specific sequences of activities, either with a business unit or cutting across business units, deliver value to the internal and external stakeholders of the organization.
~Business knowledge describes the information and things that an organization uses or deals with in order to accomplish its work. These can be customers, contracts, orders, products, suppliers, etc., as well as the relationships between this information. It forms the vocabulary of the business and is what the organization relies upon to communicate and carry on its work.
~The business strategy describes the strategic goals and key drivers of the business. It goes further to describe higher level tactical approaches that can be used to achieve these goals and maps it to various parts of the organization. It also defines the metrics required to measure and track progress towards these goals.
So, a person who is broadly defined as a Business Analyst could also be a Business Architect. However, given the specialization of knowledge and skills required to be an effective business architect, few would use a term as broad a business analyst to define themselves.
It should also be noted that there is some debate over how the terms Business Architecture and Enterprise Architecture relate to one another. Enterprise Architecture was born out of the world of information technology and comprises Application Architecture, Data Architecture, and Infrastructure Architecture. However, more recently practitioners have broadened the definition of Enterprise Architecture to also include Business Architecture as a fourth sub-component, leaving Enterprise Architecture as the overarching concept.