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What is Business Capability Mapping and why it is beneficial?

Posted by Chris Adams

Article Rating // 77738 Views // 2 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Domain Modeling, Enterprise Analysis (BABOK KA)


Business capability mapping depicts what a business does to reach its strategic objectives (its capabilities), rather than how it does it (its business processes). Business capabilities are the connection between the business strategy and business execution.
Business capability mapping 
The image above demonstrates how business capabilities bridge the gap between the strategic objectives (what) and the business processes (how).
Enterprise and business architects model business capabilities and then assess the degree to which the capability is fulfilling its strategic objectives which may be impacted by things like available capacity, materials, expertise, and technology. They may also model business capabilities that don't yet exist but are needed in order to meet future business objectives thus creating a roadmap for capabilities which must be built out. 
Each capability should have a unique name (usually a noun) and a concise one-sentence definition. A good way to create a capability definition is to use the following pattern: 
(Capability Name): Ability to (actions) on/with (business concepts or business entities) in order to (outcome).
Customer Management: Ability to capture, process, analyze, and report on all customer information related to an individual or organization that does, has done, or plans to do business with the company. (Note: Customer Information is an entity documented in the business concept model)
Capabilities are defined in a hierarchy. The process of decomposing capabilities helps ensure that capabilities are non-overlapping and unique.  
process of decomposing capabilities
Capabilities are unique based on the information they require and use. One capability may use or produce certain information that a similar sounding capability may not require or use making them two different capabilities. Similarly, child capabilities should be interpreted within the context of the parent (for instance, two separate capabilities both named Risk Assessment could exist under different parents named Solution Management and Capital Management). 
Business capability mapping presents a number of benefits. The first goal of business capability mapping is to create a stable model of the key elements of the businessThe basic capabilities of a business (the what) tend to remain constant while, in comparison, the way a business implements its processes (the how) is likely to change frequently. Thus a capability map makes an excellent reference point for business planning. Changes to how capabilities are implemented do not impact the base model.  Therefore, mapping and planning solutions based upon the stable business capabilities map leads to less change to IT infrastructure over time.
Using a business capability map to connect key strategy pillars to their methods of execution make the business strategy tangible and more visible to the entire enterprise. This leads to more effective and efficient use of technology by identifying and eliminating enterprise-wide redundancies. A capability-centric organization also helps overcome the common problem of organizational silos.  As such, both software and hardware assets may be leveraged, shared, or reused saving costs. The resulting organization is a more agile and adaptable one, leading to faster time-to-market.
Chris Adams
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Tom K. posted on Monday, April 19, 2021 1:45 AM
Even though I like the description and first picture, I must say I believe capabilities are a combination of processes, people and assets. Also without information there is no need for applications. So I'm not completely convinced the order of the layers in the picture is correct.
Tom K.
JeffL posted on Thursday, October 28, 2021 1:57 PM
The picture/poster that is presented is one view to think about business capability and it relates to those items that you mention - process, people and assets. It tries/attempts to depict the mapping as simply as possible. But it is more intricate than the diagram. If you want to see it in action better, it can be depicted differently, if you need it to communicate to other people.
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