Not many years ago, some people in the business world may not have heard of a business architect, let alone consider hiring one. However, in recent times it has become a more prominent role, filling strategic gaps and helping businesses get ahead of important decisions.
The role has risen in immediacy due partly to technology, which has many start-ups and existing businesses scrambling to navigate rapid changes. Essentially, a business architect’s role is in the name — it doesn’t provide one-off advice like a consultant might. A business architect becomes a partner that can help build a business model from the ground up, or identify weaknesses in a current model. It also pairs a business’s capabilities with the right strategies, notes Nselaa Ward, JD, who leads one of the top business architect firms in the country, Ni’ Nava & Associates.
In a traditional business, the executive team (or proprietor) is often reactive rather than proactive. This is a “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality. That means that while the business may be in a position to scale organically, it can suddenly find itself in need of new facilities or technology. By this point, it may already be too late to take advantage of the growth opportunity.
Having a business architect allows a business owner to identify growth opportunities, and have the right pieces in place when they are needed, says Nselaa Ward. They are continuously looking ahead to the newest processes and technology that can give a business a competitive edge and can help a business take some calculated risks to get ahead.
Going Beyond Business Models
Most entrepreneurs know the value of a business model — without it, there’s no clear direction for the business and it could hinder investment opportunities. However, while creating a business model should be a top priority early on, the implementation of business architecture helps to build structure within an organization. It collaborates with stakeholders at all levels to make important decisions such as acquiring new assets or shedding underperforming ones.
A business architect is also a key in creating a business capability model, which aims to identify all of the current processes and the operation’s fundamental building blocks. While many business functions are similar at the barest levels, a business architect can help refocus attention on aspects that differentiate a business and work towards achieving goals based on these aspects.
The upside of creating a capability model is that it can be done at any point in the lifespan of an enterprise, explains Nselaa Ward. It can provide a template that can be customized depending on the goals and directions of a specific business.
The right business architecture can help connect a business model to the strategies and technologies that can help drive it. This applies to current business practices, as well as looking for ways to grow and gain a competitive advantage. In today’s digitally-driven markets, there is a large emphasis at adopting software and streamlining IT practices to help realize these goals.
A business architect does more than create reports or models — it maps specific outcomes. This includes possibly creating value stream mapping, which can clarify steps in a business process and the resources required to deliver a product or service to the end-user. When done properly, a value stream map can help a business become more efficient while reducing wasted efforts because it considers the customer experience.
Nselaa Ward On Building From Experience
Ni’ Nava & Associates was not built overnight — it took a lot of experience and some heartache before Nselaa Ward was able to create the “blueprint” for helping businesses succeed.
Part of the success of her current business is based on experiencing failure from another venture earlier on. She had learned through scientific studies that there’s an inherent relationship between an entrepreneur and a start-up — not unlike that between a parent and a child. While she understood the theory of this concept, she felt the actual pain from it when she had to give up one of her own businesses.
However, instead of tapping out after defeat, she decided to build on this knowledge. From her studies and from her own extensive business experience — owning everything from a limo service to a tech company — she is now able to identify gaps in others’ ventures that will hinder their chance at success, which is a fundamental function of a business architect.
Ni’ Nava & Associates takes a comprehensive approach to business architect services — not only does it focus on helping entrepreneurs to become better leaders, it also provides an executive team to the client. While one might not find this from every firm of its type, there are a number of reasons why a business owner should consider a business architect, even if they’ve never heard of one.
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