Mapping the BIZBOK® Metamodel to the ArchiMate® Language

Sep 2, 2021
Written by
Marc Lankhorst
Marc Lankhorst
Bernd Ihnen
Bernd Ihnen

Mapping the BIZBOK® Metamodel to the ArchiMate® Language

Since the foundation of the Business Architecture Guild a little over a decade ago, its Business Architecture Body of Knowledge (BIZBOK®), as expressed in the BIZBOK® Guide, has become a popular set of guidelines and techniques for practicing business architects. More recently, it has also defined its own metamodel, which you can read about in this whitepaper (published August 2020). This metamodel provides you with a core set of concepts for expressing business architecture in the sense that BIZBOK® defines it.

The ArchiMate® modeling language for enterprise architecture, first published in 2004 and established as an Open Group standard in 2009, also covers business architecture but has a wider scope. Moreover, it offers a notation as well as a metamodel, so you can write down your architecture models in a standardized way that is understood by your fellow architects.

Now wouldn’t it be nice if you could express BIZBOK®-based business architecture in ArchiMate? That would allow business architects to benefit from the well-established tool support for the language in expressing their business architecture artifacts. Moreover, it would let business architects easily connect these architectures to this broader and deeper scope of enterprise architecture.

The ArchiMate language was explicitly designed with such relations to other languages and metamodels in mind. It therefore provides a bridge to languages like UML and BPMN, with equivalent concepts. For instance, the ArchiMate ‘Application Component’ concept equates with the UML ‘Component’ concept.

Conversely, if we don’t link up business architecture with the rest of enterprise architecture, it runs the risk of being a stand-alone discipline that cannot truly show value. Already, we see business architects sometimes struggle because ‘the business’ fails to understand their abstract concepts like ‘capability’ (see also our other blog posts and whitepaper on this concept). By showing how those concepts are underpinned by more concrete elements like those mentioned above, they become a lot more tangible and understandable for non-architects.

Concept Mapping

To support this integration, we have created the mapping in the figure below. The background shows the BIZBOK® metamodel. This is overlaid with applicable ArchiMate concepts and relationships. From the ArchiMate language, we use Motivation, Strategy, Business, and Implementation & Migration elements.

Figure 1. BIZBOK – ArchiMate strategic-level mapping 

The mapping between two conceptual universes is seldom 1:1. Some of the BIZBOK® concepts could be expressed with different ArchiMate elements. For example, the ‘Stakeholder’ concept in BIZBOK® can be used to express someone with an interest or concern, just like in ArchiMate, but it can also have an operational role, e.g. triggering a value stream. In ArchiMate, such you can better express such operational roles using the ‘Business Role’ concept. Although there are a few different mapping options, the mapping above works well in practice and is a good starting point for your own business architecture modeling efforts.

Hierarchical Levels

In this mapping, you may notice that ArchiMate uses a single concept at different levels of hierarchy. For instance, the BIZBOK® ‘Organization’ and ‘Business Unit’ concepts are both expressed with an ArchiMate ‘Business Actor’ in the second mapping, one being composed of the other. As you can imagine, an organization structure may have e.g. Departments with Business Units, Teams within Departments, et cetera.

The same pattern is shown by BIZBOK’s ‘Value Proposition’ and ‘Value Item’, both mapped to ArchiMate’s ‘Value’ concept, and by ‘Value Stream’ and ‘Value Stream Stage’, both expressed as ‘Value Stream’ in ArchiMate. Moreover, unlike the more strictly defined BIZBOK® concept, you can even use an ArchiMate ‘Value Stream’ for modeling an entire value chain, thus linking your business architecture to your business model in the economic sense.

Such hierarchical levels occur in many other areas too, e.g. business process decomposition or application structure. For this reason, ArchiMate does not have any built-in, fixed hierarchies. Rather, it allows arbitrary composition and aggregation levels between elements of the same type. That flexibility provides you with yet another way to drill down from high-level, strategic views of the enterprise into progressively more detailed operational models. But if you want a tighter mapping of the BIZBOK® concepts to ArchiMate, you can use the language customization mechanisms outlined in Chap. 15 of the ArchiMate specification to create custom specializations for these different hierarchical levels. These could even have a custom notation.

From Business Architecture to Operating Model

From the concepts in this mapping you can drill down into the operating model of your enterprise. More concrete concepts for that operational level can be linked with a Realization relationship to their more abstract counterparts in a business architecture model. For instance, ArchiMate Business Processes can realize a Value Stream stage, and Business Functions can realize a Capability. From this operating model we can drill down deeper towards the implementation, for instance to express that a Business Process is automated, modeling its realization by an Application Process performed by some Application Component.

That way, you can drill down from high-level business drivers and motivation, via your business architecture, into the underlying operating model as expressed in elements like business services and processes, applications, IT infrastructure and physical technology. Such a line of sight provides essential business insights, helping you set investment priorities, analyze operational risks, assess regulatory compliance, foster innovation, and much more.

As you can see from the above, the ArchiMate language is an excellent way to express your BIZBOK® business architectures and relate them to other domains of architecture and design. See also our whitepaper on capability-based planning for more on this. And of course, excellent tool support for modeling, analysis and collaboration is vital. That way, business architecture truly becomes an actionable discipline!