The difference between a Business Architect and a Business Analyst

23 May 2011

I was recently asked what I thought was the difference between a Business Architect and a Business Analyst.

Broadly speaking I see the difference as being similar to the difference between an Enterprise Architect and a Solution Architect. i.e. one works at a Strategic level across the whole enterprise and the other works at a project level on a specific business domain or capability area in detail.

However the distinctions for Business Architects and Business Analysts are often far less clear.

This is because the terminology used by different organisations to describe a Business Analyst ‘s roles and responsibilities varies considerably from one organisation to another, and even fewer organisations have fully defined the role of a Business Architect.

Very often someone called a Business Analyst may in fact be working either as a Business Strategist, or as a Business Architect or as a Systems Analyst or as all three roles.

The following table illustrates the generic differences as I see them.

2 Responses to “The difference between a Business Architect and a Business Analyst”

  1. Hi Adrian,

    I think this is an important post, as there are a number of people out there wondering the same thing. There has been a bit of discussion about the distinctions between these two roles and whether a business architect is a natural career extension of a business analyst or a completely separate discipline. I think you’ve hit the essentials in this post, however further refinement is required.

    The International Institute of Business Analyst have recently released their version 3 of the Business Analyst Competency Model. In it they have defined a more advanced business analyst role, which they term the Advanced Generalist Business Analyst. This role is distinct from a senior business analyst and works more at a strategic level. Within their competency model they also describe “hybrid roles”; roles that have some business analyst capabilities but are distinct from a strict business analyst role, business architect was one of these hybrid roles. Based on this framework I think it’s important to be able to separate the role of a business architect and a business analyst on more than the fact that a business architect works at the holistic enterprise level, while a business analyst does tactical project work.

    This distinction is particularly important as more and more emphasis is placed on not just undertaking project management alone, but in approaching work from a PM3 perspective.

    Presuming that this distinction between a strategic business analyst and a business architect is valid, one of the difficulties I have is knowing where one role stops and another starts. A possible point of definition is to say that a strategic business analyst works at the project and programme level, while a business architect works at the portfolio level. Programme’s have distinct needs for analysis that is more than basic requirements analysis. Programmes require a business analyst to be familiar with benefits realisation and producing business cases, as well as being able to align change with an organisation’s business motivation. This would mean that a business architect’s role would be to work at the portfolio level with the business parts of enterprise architecture frameworks and tools (such as TOGAF and ArchiMate as you highlighted in your post). They could document and provide improvements to how programme’s and projects work together with BAU, to contribute to an organisation’s business model and value proposition.

    I posted about the role of the Advanced Generalist Business Analyst on my blog if you’re interested.


  2. Mike Says:

    Absolutely agree.

    Great post. It surprises me just how often people confuse Business Architects with Business Analysts. They are such a different role, and there is a shortage of good people in both…

    It doesnt help that they both abbreviate to BA. Personally I avoid abbreviating Business Architect, or abbreviate it to Bus Arch, to distinguish it from BA, which is usually associated with Business Analyst.

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