Business Capabilities

EAS General

We have been struck recently by the volume of articles and blogs regarding Business Capability modelling, many seemingly of the view that this is a new concept that will resolve the old business IT alignment issue.

Whilst we don’t concur with the view that the concept of business capabilities is either new or capable of resolving the alignment issue alone, we are in agreement that business capability modelling is a key aspect of the business architecture.

We view business capabilities as the ‘services’ that the business offers or requires.  In Essential, these capabilities are modelled in the Business Conceptual layer and represent what the business does (or needs to do) in order to fulfil its objectives and responsibilities.

A business capability is at a higher level than a business process.  It represents a conceptual service that a group of processes and people, supported by the relevant application, information and underlying technology, will perform.  The capability represents the what, whereas the process, people and technology represent the how.  Business Capabilities can themselves be broken down into supporting capabilities, if this is useful.

Defining your business capabilities is extremely useful as it allows you to take a step back and focus on the key elements of your organisation.  You can avoid getting bogged down in the details of ‘how’ things happen and concentrate on ‘what’ does (or needs to) happen.  Once you have done this it is possible to identify your key capabilities, for example, the ones that will differentiate your business and you can use this information to ensure that you focus on the areas of importance in your business, whether this is in defining new projects or ensuring business as usual delivers appropriately.

You will find that your business capabilities are relatively static because you are defining the ‘what’ which rarely changes whereas, for example, your business processes will constantly be evolving as the ‘how’ things are done changes all the time with the advancement of technology and of customer demand.  A very obvious example is retail – twenty years ago the internet did not exist so there were no online sales channels; but the capabilities of a retail channel have not altered, Sales, Fulfilment and Billing are still capabilities, however the process of ‘how’ they sell, dispatch and take payment has altered dramatically.

In reviewing our tutorials we noticed that we already have tutorials on Capturing the Business Value Chain (a subset of the capabilities) and Business Process Modelling, but we don’t have a tutorial that focuses solely on business capability modelling.  In view of the current interest we aim to address this gap as soon as we can and a new tutorial will be available shortly.

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