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.

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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

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(From Chapter 4)