Enterprise Architecture Maturity and Business Process Outsourcing Success

This master thesis presents an enterprise architecture maturity framework and uses it to establish a connection between enterprise architecture maturity and business process outsourcing success.

Executive Summary

Business process outsourcing, the main subject of this thesis, is considered to be the dominating form of outsourcing for the coming years and is received with large enthusiasm in the business scene. Despite this enthusiasm there still exist enough cases of disappointments and failures. Previous research proved that the matter of success or failure of a business process outsourcing (BPO) trajectory depends on a number of factors. One of the most important factors is enterprise architecture.

While preceding researchers acknowledge the link between BPO and enterprise architecture, no actual studies or best practices can be found regarding the influence of the maturity (i.e. matter of establishment) of an organization’s enterprise architecture on the success or failure of a BPO trajectory. Our research acts upon this and takes it one step further by revealing the relationship between enterprise architecture maturity and BPO success, after examining several relevant cases within the Dutch financial market.

Results from our research eventually proved that there indeed exists a relationship between the business process outsourcing outcomes of an organization and the enterprise architecture maturity; however some important annotations have to be considered, which we will come back to shortly. Another substantial result which came along with our research was the construct and validation of a research based enterprise architecture maturity framework.

Organizations recognize the importance of enterprise architecture and in response architecture developments and establishments are stimulated. In order to continue architecture improvements it is likely for organizations to find out where they stand (as-is) and where they are heading to (to-be). A popular way of doing so is by classifying the different architecture aspects of the organization in terms of maturity. This has yielded interesting enterprise architecture maturity models that can help an organization assess the current state of its enterprise architecture establishments and focus on possible improvements. These models however appear to insufficiently cover all enterprise architecture aspects as defined in this thesis (based on literature). Besides, the topic enterprise architecture maturity mainly lives within the commercial scene and there exist little ‘serious’ literature regarding frameworks and best practices; a perfect opportunity to contribute to enterprise architecture maturity on a more academic base.

Next to the tool for exposing enterprise architecture maturity, another tool was needed for this research; a measurement tool for the success of business process outsourcing. For this purpose we adopted and slightly adjusted an existing framework that was proposed in previous research.

Being fully equipped with proper measurement tools we acceded to the practical field for the benefit of the main research goal. Some large Dutch business process outsourcing cases from the past 5 years were examined and compared. 

We have mentioned that next to the revealed relationship between the business process outsourcing outcomes of an organization and the enterprise architecture maturity, based on the cross case comparisons the case studies, some annotations must be considered. Namely, the relationship strongly depends on the type of business process outsourcing and the way it is executed. The role of enterprise architecture maturity in outsourcing outcomes for simple business processes (e.g. billing services) distinctively differs from the one for complex business processes (e.g. entire back-office). Enterprise architecture establishments demand more mature standards for outsourcing complex business processes while simple processes can achieve a relatively high success rate with low architecture maturity.

However throughout the different case studies, we consented to the same conclusion: given the definition of enterprise architecture within this thesis, a more mature enterprise architecture would have resulted in better outcomes for the concerning business process outsourcing trajectories in terms of costs and on time delivery. This was again confirmed by the results from the used frameworks.

Discussion of the conclusions drawn from our research shows that enterprise architecture must receive sufficient attention before going through a business process outsourcing trajectory, where higher maturity (from both customer and outsourcing supplier) can determine outsourcing outcomes in terms of success. The discussion also invites future research on a larger scale (e.g. a larger set of interviewees for similar research, involvement of other markets or different types of business process outsourcing).

The obtained results came to an end thanks to a composed maturity framework for enterprise architecture. Constructing a particular framework has not been one of our initial objectives. Still it played an important role within our research. While this framework is more adequate and versatile than most current available maturity frameworks and we made quite an effort for proper construct, still some refinements can be recommended, for example more extensive validation. We believe that an enhanced version of our framework can be of significant value within the business and advisory scene for establishing best practices regarding enterprise architecture improvements under guidance of maturity.

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Posted on 11/04/2011 by


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