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What Is Strategic Architecture?

Jennifer Leigh
Jennifer Leigh

Strategic architecture is the way that a business comes together from the ground up. This includes such pieces of information as the stakeholders, the mission and the vision of the company. Other important aspects include the plans for operation, the core strategies and the actions needed to accomplish them. Without a strategic architecture, a business is likely to falter because there are only so many resources available to meet goals at any given time. The strategic architecture, created by business experts, provides a long-term view of how the organization will grow, develop and succeed, and it often includes the technology that will support the company throughout the process.

The stakeholders are the people and entities that will profit if the business succeeds or lose money if it fails. This includes the stockholders, executives, business partners and any other group affected by the business. Recognizing the stakeholders ensures that the strategic architecture is focusing on the right people and places when it is being created.

The strategic architecture, created by business experts, provides a long-term view of how the organization will grow, develop and succeed.
The strategic architecture, created by business experts, provides a long-term view of how the organization will grow, develop and succeed.

A mission statement should accurately reflect the goals of the company and the stakeholders with whom the company is dealing. The company vision helps align the views of the people who are creating the organization. This helps set up the strategic architecture because it is looking at long-term goals that the company want to achieve. Without a clear vision, there is not a good basis upon which to develop goals, and the vision should reflect the spirit that will help the company succeed.

Plans for operation are an important part of a strategic architecture, because without actual plans, visions and goals are not helpful. This is where the technological and logistical aspects come into the picture. Executives have to determine how best to meet the goals of the organization with the resources that are available. This includes such things as equipment, software and business models.

Determining the core strategies helps a company decide on the main components of the business. These are the places where the organization wishes to excel and beat the competition, and an organization generally has to choose the areas on which it will focus. Actions are needed at this point — meaning realistic and measurable steps that can be taken to meet these goals. This helps take the mission statement and vision and narrow it into a much smaller focus that is reachable. All of these components combine to create a strategic architecture that is clear and manageable.

How Is Strategic Architecture Related to Enterprise Architecture?

Strategic architecture is a vital component of enterprise architecture. Other domains that fall under the umbrella of enterprise architecture are:

As a high-level, long-range view of an organization’s operations, structure and goals, strategic architecture must be completed before developing business, data, application and solutions architecture. SA plans will serve as a roadmap to guide the direction of subsequent planning and ensure that all initiatives align with the enterprise’s vision, mission and goals.

What Do Strategic Architecture Plans Include?

When preparing an SA document that communicates a company’s strategic architecture, business experts must first define the plan’s vision and purpose. Focus areas are then established according to company objectives along with strategic outcomes that address evolving customer needs and demands.

The next section specifies principles and directions to guide decision-making. Consistency and clarity is the goal.

A current company outlook is detailed in the next section. Both achievements and issues are noted to support executives in identifying areas of success and potential areas for growth. This information is used to generate future tasks. From there, leaders select a framework to create an implementation plan that outlines how the company will transition from its current state to its targeted state.

Each section of an SA document is dynamic and should be revisited as necessary to address relevant industry changes.

What Are Examples of Strategic Architecture?

While strategic architecture covers a broad scope of the overall enterprise architecture, SA teams typically focus attention on areas that are high strategic priorities for a business. Here are examples to show strategic architecture at work.

Competitive Intelligence

Competitive intelligence is the practice of gathering, analyzing and responding to information about competitors, consumers, products or services, and other market-related factors. This data is used to support strategic planning and formulate action steps that enable a company to gain a competitive edge.

Organizational Structure

The way that a company is controlled and operated can contribute to its ability to achieve business objectives. Strategic architects evaluate organizational structures for effective communication, efficient allocation and use of resources and clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

Critical Success Factors

To accomplish set goals, a company must demonstrate competence in pivotal areas known as critical success factors. This concept applies to a range of capabilities and activities, from vendor relationships to sustainable practices. Businesses must identify the critical success factors aligned to specific goals.

Risk Identification

Risk identification involves anticipating adverse outcomes of business projects, activities and initiatives that would prevent a company from realizing its goals. Through a combination of creative processes, trend analyses and systems thinking, strategic architects help to identify possible risks, determine threat levels and create action plans to reduce or eliminate pitfalls.

Compliance

Companies are required to comply with an established set of rules, laws, standards and regulations. Businesses that do not conform to regulatory measures risk financial, legal and reputational penalties.

Industries vary in the levels of regulation they are subject to. For example, pharmaceutical manufacturing is a highly regulated industry while the internet is one of the least regulated. Generally, the more regulated an industry, the higher the cost is to maintain compliance.

Gap Analysis

A gap analysis is a technique that determines the difference between a business’s current state (where it is) and its targeted state (where it wants to be). This process involves an examination of strategies, structures, practices and technologies to identify problem areas and create improvement plans. The purpose is to move businesses closer to fulfilling goals.

Market Research

Businesses determine the viability of product or service offerings by conducting market research, which is the process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting information obtained directly from target customers. Commonly used market research methods are:

  • Customer interviews
  • Feasibility study
  • Focus group
  • Observational study

Companies use market research findings to make critical decisions, attract investors, uncover new business opportunities and avoid costly business failures.

What Does a Strategic Architect Do?

A strategic architect is a key link between strategy and implementation. This role involves collaboration with enterprise architects, business analysts, IT personnel and product managers to achieve company objectives. Responsibilities include:

  • Develop an SA plan that accounts for multiple scenarios
  • Provide strategic input to other teams
  • Align company goals and business functions
  • Develop capability maps and value streams
  • Describe and categorize primary business functions

Extensive education and experience are needed to become a strategic architect, along with strong critical thinking, communication and interpersonal skills.

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Discussion Comments

Certlerant

A business plan is closely related to strategic architecture.

A business plan outlines the company's goals, potential sources of funding and plans for future growth and development.

Many lenders or investors require a business owner to create some type of business plan before they agree to provide financing to start a company or for a specific project.

There are myriad books, software programs and continuing education courses designed to help new business owners create a good plan.

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    • The strategic architecture, created by business experts, provides a long-term view of how the organization will grow, develop and succeed.
      By: Minerva Studio
      The strategic architecture, created by business experts, provides a long-term view of how the organization will grow, develop and succeed.