“Don’t forget they will learn, and don’t forget recorders. Now, Chaplain, you’ve got a problem about Moties and Creation. The Empire has another. For a long time we’ve talked about the Great Galactic Wizards showing up and deciding whether to let the humans join, right? Only it’s the other way around, isn’t it? We’ve got to decide whether to let the Moties out of their system, and until that’s decided we don’t want them to see the Langston Field generators, the Alderson Drive, our weapons.. . not even just how much of MacArthur is living space, Chaplain. It would give away too much about our capabilities. We’ve a lot to hide, and we’ll hide it.”

The Mote in God’s Eye – Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle

So back to the subject of business capabilities, If there were two business artifacts that I would say it is the utmost necessity for an enterprise to have then I would consider the business capabilities and abstract view of the value streams that define the value delivery with the proposition to the end stakeholders.

And as Chris Lockhart once mentioned in a blog post:

“If there happens to be, by some lucky stroke, a comprehensive business architecture at your company, you are in luck.”

He is not wrong at all, in fact having a ready to inspect capability map will give a direct insight into the organization business model and some aspects of the operating model. So let’s have a look at a capability map according to Business Architecture Guild:

This is the same one that I discussed in my previous post but with more information added. This information corresponds to an assessment we did to our imaginary small enterprise where it shows the effectiveness of all of its capabilities. Having this at any strategical meeting will immediately refocus the talks and concentrate them on what our enterprise does well and where it is missing its competitiveness compared to competitors. So instead of funneling the budget toward the supporting capabilities which doesn’t add too much in terms of competitiveness, the funds and budgets can be focused on those capabilities that actually give you leverage over anyone else (What the BizBok says laser-pointing precision of budget allocation).

Also, this map will provide a better insight on what capabilities can be outsourced to other strategic partners where that said capabilities are performed much at much better performance with less cost compared to building and maintaining it internally. Moreover, initiatives and projects conflicts could be avoided if more than one initiative alter or interact with one universal capability. Now, you have a much better resource utilization in the organization with a view of affected business capabilities at hand. Added to that, we now have one common vocabulary on what the enterprise does, so ideas and dialogs are exchanged with the utilization of the enterprise dictionary.

Another use for having business capabilities is the impact analysis if such mapping between the capabilities and other aspects of the enterprise exist. I demonstrate such mapping as follows:

With the well-defined capabilities, an architect was able to directly map and align the business capability to the corresponding application that automates the said capability (in this case ERP solutions). Now, this is a simple mapping that abstracted much of the extra info that resides (Thanks ArchiMate for the Derivation Rules). Now, in case we want to upgrade, for example, the SAP HR Policy Management and use the cloud alternative then we would have a direct insight on the capabilities affected and address the challenges and risks associated with the upgrade. More than that, we will see which business units utilize that capability and plan for better change management practices.

These are some of the simple stuff we could do with the existing capabilities maps, but till this moment I yet to see a local company that addressed and documents those capabilities. I know it is a lengthy process which takes months of meetings and workshops, but the advantages are evident. Maybe cause the enterprises are yet to embrace the holistic view of the Enterprise Architecture practice entirely and in particular the business architecture aspect (It is still in the Trough of Disillusionment phase of Gartner’s Hype Cycle). And until then, I wish more and more enterprises do this to make at least it easier for consultant companies to translate the business into suitable enterprise solutions.