A Business Application Architecture Framework in Manufacturing Industry
T. Pienimäki.
Tampere University of Technology, (2005)

In a contemporary business environment business processes are under constant change. Information systems and applications are becoming more complex so that they are able to support and react promptly to these complicated business requirements. An architecture framework is an instrument for managing a complex information systems environment. This study concentrates on issues related to comprehensive business application architectures in industrial manufacturing companies.The objective of this study is to determine what common factors can be identified in business application architectures in the case companies and how the business application architectures have been developed in the case companies. In order to reach the objective of the study a framework with which the business application architectures and business application architecture development processes could be analyzed and enhanced was first developed.The research approach used was qualitative multiple case research. Business application architectures and business application architecture development processes were studied in four case companies. As a research method mainly the action-oriented research approach was used. In addition, this study has features of constructive research and conceptual research approaches.The results suggest that the business application architecture framework is a powerful instrument in analyzing and enhancing business application architectures and it has influenced the business practices in some companies. The framework consists of the business application classification model and the reference model for the business application architecture development process. The results suggest that it is preferable to aim towards an integrated business application architecture based on average applications rather than invest in best-in-class applications, which are not integrated. The case companies also aimed towards a higher level of integration within their supply chain. In all case companies the development and implementation of the business application architecture took several years. Consequently, the architecture has to be flexible so that it is able to adapt to emerging changes in requirements during the development and implementation of the architecture. Target business application architectures included less applications and less complexity but provided the same functionality as the initial architecture. On the other hand, typically the actual number of different applications typically didn't decrease in the target architecture. This is because the target business application architecture had more functionality and more features to be supported than the initial architecture. As one result of this thesis it was concluded that case companies did not have an information architecture, but according to the IT management of the case companies it would be useful to have.
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