Recently, I was contacted via this blog by an individual who had been challenged to set up a new Business Architecture practice within his company’s Enterprise Architecture team.  He reached out to me to ask about some books to read and some advice.  I’m expanding my message to him here.  As always, I’d love to hear your comments and feedback. 


You have quite a challenge ahead of you.  While it may seem obvious, there are some steps that you need to do first.  You have to essentially manage the change that you are bringing to your own organization.


  1. Value Proposition: Get together with your sponsor and create your charter.  This is critical to having a clear goal that you will achieve, and clear measures by which you will achieve them.  I cannot underestimate the importance of this step.  Do not skip. 
  2. Engagement Model: Create a clear and simple process for deciding what your team will focus on and how you will find the right opportunities to attack.  This is your engagement model.  Formalize it, and stick to it.  You will be pulled in every direction.  Clear simple criteria is your only defense against being scattered to the wind.
  3. Clearly define your service: what deliverables will be produced, and which individual stakeholders are going to be expected to use those deliverables, at what time, to what end. 
  4. Stakeholder buy-in: With the help of your sponsor, meet one on one with each of these key stakeholders and make sure that they understand your value proposition, resources, and process impacts.  You may be changing the lives of some key people.  Get their buy-in. Be prepared to rewrite the value proposition.  The value you deliver must be tied to the needs that they express.
  5. Scorecard: Hold yourselves accountable.  Create a scorecard and use it with your team to demonstrate how progress should occur, and use it with your leaders to show how value has been delivered. 
  6. Staff Training: Send everyone to a training class in Business Architecture… not so that they are all educated, but so that everyone is educated on the same terms, artifacts, and processes.  This is the most difficult one to offer advice on because I have not yet found many good options… then again, we have an internal team that has answered the call, so I have not lately looked.  Perhaps good options exist. 


As far as required reading… specific to the BA practice challenge

The list below is intentionally short.  I feel that every member of the team should read each of these books.  I placed them in order of usefulness for your task at hand (preparing the staff of a new BA function within an EA team).  All are very valuable… but being higher on the list means that I consider the book to be more valuable, sooner, than the ones below.


  • “Business Architecture: The Art and Practice of Business Transformation” by Neil McWhorter and William Ulrich
  • “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore
  • “How to Measure Anything” by Douglas Hubbard
  • “Enterprise Architecture as Strategy” Jeanne Ross and Peter Weill
  • “Competitive Advantage” and “Competitive Strategy” by Michael Porter
  • “Make It Stick” and “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath


For the team manager, one more book to be read concurrently with the ones above:

  • “Business Architecture: An Emerging Profession.” Paul A. Bodine and Jack Hilty



OK… I have probably just angered some of my friends, because I didn’t include all of their books or reference materials in my short list.  Please, before you flame me, realize that this response is to a specific individual with a specific problem.  The EA team existed, but didn’t have a BA function… what does that tell you?  That it is an EITA team, in all likelihood.  Is every possible book or resource appropriate for that situation?  Probably not.  So I selected a small set of valuable books.  There are many more out there.

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

8 thoughts on “Setting Up A New EA or BA Practice”
  1. i'd recommend "Understanding Micheal Porter" by Joan Magretta over the two Porter books you list for someone looking for the basics of that view of strategy. She condenses those works plus some of Porter's later stuff into a single shorter work.

  2. Hi Nick – great list! (And perfectly happy that none of my books are on there! 🙂 )

    As you say, it's for one specific client, but I'm very pleased to see 'Make It Stick' and 'Switch' in that list: communication and engagement are crucially-important yet too-often-ignored aspects on any architect's work.

    Best regards etc – tom g.

  3. Hi Nick,

    I really like your post.. The followers of will know ghat we have been thinking about the same subject, and recommended similar steps. I haven't read the book my G. Moore yet, will put it on the reading list!

    One thing that I would like to mention though: in preparing to get started two other things seem key also. First of all: a clear idea of where you want to go with EA in the future. You can't do everything for everybody (if you'll try, you will end up doing nothing for nobody) so choices have to be made. Knowing that helps you focus. Secondly, it helps you communicate. We should not be afraid to get out there, say what we stand for and have a good discussion about EA, value add etc.



  4. @Kevin:  Excellent suggestion.  I'll check out the Magretta book on Porter.  

    @Tom: I agree.  Engagement and communication are foundational.

    @Bas: Excellent suggestions.  

  5. Hi Nick,

    Great post and this is often a question I get asked as well, so nice contribution.  Some lessons learned from doing this for a few companies.  Its best to identify your stakeholders as part of the charter and make sure you work with them and your sponsor to build out the architecture value proposition.  Given a broad set of value propositions that can be provided.  It always seemed to work out best to sit down, talk with your stakeholders, understand the culture of the company, current issues and gaps and build your value proposition from that.  Buy-in before you get started and revision from there.  Doing it first tends to lead to rework or failure down the road.  So, in  a nutshell…agree with your buckets, just some food for thought around the order.



  6. Nick, Thanks for sharing the reading-list and key “steps.”  To the steps, one could perhaps also emphasize on Culture and legacy

    Organizational culture: Hierarchal or Collaborative or others in between will also be a KSF to consider. I guess it is also implicit in the approach to get a Stakeholder buy-in.

    Legacy: It is more than likely that your client is not starting with a clean whiteboard. Extending the legacy of EA/BA will also be a consideration.

  7. I would include… staert with why by simon sinek (or what his ted video) and … the sales bible by jeffery gitomer because your client will be doing a lot of selling. Then .. yes!attitude by gitomer because you will be challenged a great deal. Strenghtening your attitude will help.

  8. Hi Adam,

    You caught something that I should have made more clear.  The value proposition has to built with the stakeholders.  Excellent point.  I may go back to the list and tweak it to include this excellent observation.  Thank you.

    Hi Mohan

    I'm going to have to trust that the stakeholders and sponsor know enough about the environment (culture and legacy) to build a charter that works.  These are certainly valid concerns for the charter and value prop, but they are also concerns for the resulting EA itself.

    Thanks Pat.  Excellent list of valuable books.

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