Book Pick: Value Chains

Value chains are meant to cross the delivery of products and/or services to customers with the supporting activities

Excerpt from Enterprise Architecture Fundamentals.


The influence of Porter’s concept comes from the key distinction between primary and supporting activities, which puts the focus on enterprises’ two orthogonal dimensions: one set by fleeting business opportunities; the other, by perennial supporting systems.

But the digital transformation and the ensuing pervasiveness of software components in business processes have blurred the boundaries between primary and supporting activities. Thus, a redefinition of the relationships between business processes and supporting systems is required (figure 4-5), one that understands supporting activities in terms of organizational capabilities, binding business objectives and processes to EA capabilities, as defined in chapter 3:

  • Agents and roles with shared access to supporting systems
  • Business objects shared between business processes
  • Business logic and functions shared between business processes
  • Locations and objects accessed by processes, and the communication channels connecting them
  • Events and control mechanisms contributing to processes’ execution

Figure 4-5. Crossing Processes & Organization

A fine-grained analysis should then plot each activity to enterprise architecture capabilities (figure 4-6):

  • Roles (Who) 
  • Inward and outward flows of data, information or knowledge (What) 
  • Functions (How)
  • Ties to physical locations and objects (Where)
  • Execution modalities (When)

Figure 4-6. Crossing Activities & Capabilities

Assuming the traceability of EA capabilities (cf. chapter 3), the contribution of five generic layers’ capabilities to business processes could be then assessed selectively (figure 4-7):

  • At the enterprise level: people and organization, as described with Computation independent models (CIMs)
  • At the system level: functional architecture, as described with Platform independent models (PIMs)
  • At the platform level: technical architecture, as described with Platform specific models (PSMs) and operational configurations

Figure 4-7. Charting Primary & Supporting Activities to Architecture Capabilities


(From Chapter 4)