What Is a Business Architecture? Business Architecture

Ronald G.  Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC) Read Author Bio       || Read All Articles by Ronald G. Ross

What's your definition of business architecture?  Here's ours:[1]

a structural representation of a business solution as it relates to creating business value and achieving business goals

We think that business architecture always involves some amount (often pervasive) of organizational transformation, even to the point of building a completely new business solution from scratch.  Since organizational transformation is inevitable, there's really no need to mention it in the definition.

Like most practitioners, by 'business architecture' we mean a blueprint.

Actually, blueprint doesn't completely align with the dictionary definitions of architecture.[2]  You can take your pick from the alternatives in the following table, but not one of them refers directly to a representation of something being built.


Topical Focus



art and science

the art or practice of designing and building structures … in accordance with principles determined by aesthetic and practical or material considerations



formation or construction whether the result of conscious act or of growth or of random disposition of the parts … e.g., architecture and function of the cerebral cortex


specific result

instance of the exercise of the art or science of architecture … architectural product: architectural work … e.g., the mansions which comprise the entire architecture of the Square


method or style

a method or style of building characterized by certain peculiarities of structure …

The first definition in the table highlights principles.  Any viable approach to business architecture must enumerate its principles and adhere to them closely.  That's not just so much talk.  The approach must provide proper thinking tools so that you can consistently act in accordance with the principles.

Do most current approaches to business architecture provide such thinking tools?  I think not.  If they did, they would feature:[3]

  • Business policies (in the context of business strategy), business rules, and decision engineering.  Those things represent the intellect of the organization and the fundamental answer for the question why.

  • A carefully-factored approach whose component models cover each of the facets needed to communicate effectively with all the different audiences engaged with, or affected by, a business solution.

The third definition in the table refers to architecture as an art or science.  That's what architecture students go to universities to learn, and what professional architects practice daily.  Who today really thinks of business architecture as an art or science?  It should be — and it probably will be eventually — but I don't think we're really even close.

Let's face it.  Many techniques currently offered for 'business architecture' aren't even really about the business.  They're about — what else — IT's view of the business.  That's definitely not business architecture.

What should business architecture be about?  Architect can also be used as a verb (from the dictionary, to plan and contrive as an architect).  Too bad "architecting" doesn't roll off the tongue as easily as "designing" or "modeling."  After all, architecting business solutions is exactly what business architects should be doing daily.

For further information, please visit BRSolutions.com      


[1]  From the newly-released second edition of our book Building Business Solutions:  Business Analysis with Business Rules (by Ronald G. Ross and Gladys S.W. Lam), 2015.  http://www.brsolutions.com/b_building_business_solutions.php  return to article

[2]  Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary  return to article

[3]  These are the two basic principles of BABusinessSpeak™, the Business Rule Solutions, LLC (BRS) methodology for (a) creating a business architecture to model a business capability, and (b) producing business requirements.  BABusinessSpeak is comprehensively detailed in the newly-released second edition of our book Building Business Solutions:  Business Analysis with Business Rules.  return to article

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Standard citation for this article:

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Ronald G. Ross, "What Is a Business Architecture? Business Architecture" Business Rules Journal, Vol. 16, No. 10, (Oct. 2015)
URL: http://www.brcommunity.com/a2015/b831.html

About our Contributor:

Ronald  G. Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC)

Ronald G. Ross is Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rule Solutions, LLC, where he actively develops and applies the BRS Methodology including RuleSpeak®, DecisionSpeak and TableSpeak.

Ron is recognized internationally as the "father of business rules." He is the author of ten professional books including the groundbreaking first book on business rules The Business Rule Book in 1994. His newest are:

Ron serves as Executive Editor of BRCommunity.com and its flagship publication, Business Rules Journal. He is a sought-after speaker at conferences world-wide. More than 50,000 people have heard him speak; many more have attended his seminars and read his books.

Ron has served as Chair of the annual International Business Rules & Decisions Forum conference since 1997, now part of the Building Business Capability (BBC) conference where he serves as Co-Chair. He was a charter member of the Business Rules Group (BRG) in the 1980s, and an editor of its Business Motivation Model (BMM) standard and the Business Rules Manifesto. He is active in OMG standards development, with core involvement in SBVR.

Ron holds a BA from Rice University and an MS in information science from Illinois Institute of Technology. Find Ron's blog on http://www.brsolutions.com/category/blog/. For more information about Ron visit www.RonRoss.info. Tweets: @Ronald_G_Ross

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