Introduction to Concepts

The ArchiMate Business Layer: Introduction to Concepts

ArchiMate layers were introduced in Part 1 of this series and Part 5 provided a bit more detail.

Please click through to the Interactive Appendix, for examples of using these elements.

The Business, Application and Technology Layers are broken down into three types of concepts: Passive Structure, Behavior, and Active Structure. Passive structure elements are written to and read from by Active structure elements.

Behavior elements describe the transaction between the Active and Passive structure elements as well as between Active structure elements. Examples of Passive structure elements are contracts, data objects and products. Actors, roles, collaboration, and others represent active structure elements.

Functions, processes, and events are some of the elements that represent behavior structure elements.

The following series of articles will cover the many aspects of the Business, Application, and Technology layers in ArchiMate.

Business Layer Structural Concepts

The Business Layer identifies the concepts and relationships of the highest level of the architecture: the end product, and the customer delivery system. This part of the architecture is the realization of the goals and requirements of the senior executives, which motivate the implementation of an enterprise architecture framework.

Free ArchiMate Downloads!The following list is accompanied by the ArchiMate graphic with which it is associated.

Structural Concepts

The structural aspect of the business layer is the static structure of an organization – the entities that make up the organization and their relationships.

Structure is the focus of many architectural descriptions.

There are two types of structural entities:

  1. Active entities are the subjects (e.g., actors or roles) that perform behavior such as business processes or functions. Business actors may be individual persons (e.g., customers or employees), but also groups of people (organization units) and resources that have a permanent or long-term status within the organizations.
  2. Passive entities (business objects) are manipulated by behavior such as business processes or functions. The passive entities represent the important concepts in which the business thinks about a domain.

Architectural descriptions focus on structure, which means that the inter-relationships of entities within an organization play an important role. This is represented by the concept of business collaboration. Business collaborations have been inspired by collaborations as defined in the UML 2.0 standard, although the UML collaborations apply to components in the application layer. ArchiMate business collaboration concept also has a strong resemblance to the “community” concept as defined in the RM-ODP Enterprise Language as well as to the “interaction point” concept, defined in Amber as the place where interactions occur.

The Business Interface concept explicitly models how locations (both logical and physical) or channels can access the services that a role offers. The same service may be offered on a number of different interfaces; e.g., by mail, by telephone, or through the Internet.

Please click through to the Interactive Appendix, for examples of using these elements.

Active structural elements

  • Business Actor – an organizational entity that is capable of performing behavior

A business actor performs the behavior assigned to business roles. A business actor is an organizational entity as opposed to a technical entity: it belongs to the business layer. Actors may, however, include entities outside the actual enterprise, like customers and partners. Examples of business actors are humans, departments, and business units. A business actor may be assigned to one or more business roles.

business actor

  • Business Role – a defined responsibility that authorizes an actor to perform actions

Business processes or business functions are assigned to a single business role with certain responsibilities or skills. A business actor that is assigned to a business role ultimately performs the corresponding behavior. In addition to the relation of a business role with behavior, a business role is also useful in an organizational sense, for instance, in the division of labor within an organization. A business interface or an application interface may be used by a business role, while a business interface may be part of a business role.

business role

  • Business Collaboration – an aggregate of two or more business roles that work together to perform collective behavior.

A Business Collaboration is a (possibly temporary) collection of roles within an organization, which perform collaborative behavior (interactions). Unlike a department, which may also group roles, a Business Collaboration does not have an official (permanent) status within the organization; it is aimed at a specific interaction or set of interactions between roles.

A Business Collaboration may be composed of a number of business roles, and may be assigned to one or more business interactions. A business interface or an application interface may be used by a Business Collaboration, while a business collaboration may have business interfaces (through the composition relationship).

Business Collaboration

  • Business Interface – a point of access where a business service is made available to the environment.

A business interface exposes the functionality of a business service to other business roles or expects functionality from other business services. It is often referred to as a channel (telephone, internet, local office, etc.). The same business service may be exposed through different interfaces.

A business interface may be part of a business role through a composition relationship, which is not shown in the standard notation, and a business interface may be used by a business role. A business interface may be assigned to one or more business services, which means that these services are exposed by the interface.

Business Interface

  • Location – where in physical space actors reside

The location concept is used to model the distribution of structural elements such as business actors, application components, and devices. This is modeled by means of an assignment relationship from location to structural element. Indirectly, a location can also be assigned to a behavior element, to indicate where the behavior is performed.

Business InterfacePassive structural elements

  • Business Object – an element of a system upon which the system operates

Business objects represent the important “informational” or “conceptual” elements in which the business thinks about a domain. Generally, a business object is used to model an object type (cf. a UML class), of which several instances may exist within the organiAzation. A wide variety of types of business objects can be defined. Business objects are passive in the sense that they do not trigger or perform processes.

Business objects may be accessed by a business process, function, a business interaction, a business event, or a business service. A business object may have association, specialization, aggregation, or composition relationships with other business objects. AA business object may be realized by a representation or by a data object (or both).

Business ObjectConclusion

This article covered the structural concepts of the ArchiMate Business Layer, which describes the static structure of an organization represented by entities making up the organization and their relationships. The Business Layer is the part of the ArchiMate model that represents the closest level of a business to the customer, but its concepts are also relevant to internal-facing organizations.

Next time…

The next article explains the Behavioral concepts of the Business Layer.

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Steve is a leading practitioner lecturer, educator, and trainer in Enterprise Architecture (EA), with a number of roles in the global strategic transformation community. The Founder and CEO of EA Principals. Steve is one of the leading 10 TOGAF trainers in the world, having trained about 1750 people himself. He is author of the book, “Organization Theory and Transformation of Large, Complex Organizations." Steve designed ArchiMate 2.0 Certification and TOGAF Certification e-learning in conjunction with Good e-Learning and trains groups around the world.