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Accelerate your business results by combing Capability Mapping and Enterprise Architecture

November 17, 2020

In today’s business environment, a company’s needs speed and accuracy to enable their strategy. Achieving the desired outcomes is not an accidental process. By combing Business Capability Mapping (BCM) with the expertise of Enterprise Architecture (EA), you will gain an accelerated understanding of any projects cost, technology impact, risk, and potential efficiencies all before having to commit funds.

Without this understanding, you’re likely to face cost overruns, delivery delays, and in general fall behind your competition. Over the next few paragraphs, I’ll explain part of the problem and propose an approach that uses BCM and EA to enable your desired outcomes. You can apply this approach to strategic planning, early-stage portfolio planning, and the everyday brainstorming that goes on throughout your company.

As I look back on the last 30 years of my career, I remember what seemed like simpler times, especially in terms of our technology choices. The first eight years of my career were in the Air Force. Those days were full of discussions on serial communication standards, 80-megabyte disk drives the size of a washing machine, and the beginning of something called Ethernet. Over the years, we’ve all seen an explosion in technology and its accessibility. That eruption comes with a broader and deeper set of complexities for us to think through. What is a Business Capability?

Before we dive deeper into the subject, let’s start by defining what we mean by Business Capabilities and Enterprise Architecture. While you can find dozens of definitions, let’s keep it simple.

· Business Capabilities (BA) are a complete set of what an organization requires to execute its business model or fulfill its mission.

· Enterprise Architectures (EA) purpose is to foster greater alignment between IT and business concerns.

One fundamental note, organizations the people that make them up, and the applications they use are always undergoing some change. Your company’s business capabilities by their very definition are long-lived and do not experience frequent updates.

To understand how I’ve used this approach, let’s consider what happens in your typical portfolio planning management (PPM) process. These can be arduous events that leave you with a vague understanding of what’s critical to enables success.

Where it goes wrong — A Mess of Viewpoints

You’re early in the process, reviewing an array of potential initiatives, so where should you invest your resources? How can you quickly gain a broad understanding of each initiative’s impact on the enterprise?

Where are the risks, what efficiencies should I expect to achieve, and how can I gain an initial understanding of cost that isn’t wildly off from the actual price tag?

To do so and to set up your organization for success, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of the multiple viewpoints that make up your enterprise. The image below represents standard views that need to be tied together to align business strategy to tangible business outcomes. These views often seem disconnected from one another.

An easy and repeatable approach

Using Business Capability Mapping and Enterprise Architecture, you will gain a sharper picture of those numerous initiatives and their linkage across the various viewpoints.

However, which viewpoint is most important? The answer is all of them. It’s not meant to be a trick question or a bogus answer. The truth is that the entire organization benefits from understanding other people’s viewpoints. Doing so should be smooth and repeatable.

To help you visualize this, let’s start with the Business Capability Map and then associate the most typical viewpoints to them.

To keep this article reasonably short, I’ve provided a generic Business Capability Map (figure 3) that has been shortened to fit this layout. However, in figures 4 through 6, I’ve included three associated viewpoints related to the Sales set of capabilities.

1. Capability Map (abbreviated), figure 3

2. Marketing & Sales Capability Map (Level 2), figure 4

3. Sales Capabilities — Applications and Deployment viewpoints (On-Premise, Cloud, SaaS, Hybrid), figure 5

4. Geographic (location) viewpoint, figure 6

With that said, all ten viewpoints listed above can be mapped and understood by everyone in your organization.

Standard Capability Map (abbreviated)In this map, the top tier is your organizations highest level capabilities (level 0). The level 1 capabilities are in brown.

In picture four, we’ve added in the level 2 capabilities (in white). Keep in mind this represents ‘what’ the organization does and not the ‘how’ or the process related to it. The processes can be associated with the capabilities if desired.

Application ViewpointAs we apply additional viewpoints, the picture becomes more evident. The four Sales capabilities are enterprise-wide. Every line of business and every product or service offering uses them. However, to do so, the company uses eight different applications. With those applications deployed, On-Premise, Cloud, and SaaS with inconsistent data integrations. Two of the applications have Security and Technical debt associated with them.

Geographic viewpoint

In the Geographic viewpoint, we see that the applications used in Sales Quoting Management vary. Variance in geographies or regions often happen due to merger and acquisition activity and can reflect complexities on a national and international scale.

Wrapping it upIn figures 4 through 6, I mapped a standard set of Sales Capabilities, mapped them to 3 different viewpoints. Those viewpoints showed us that while the Sales capabilities are standard across the enterprise, the organization fulfills those capabilities through:

1. Eight applications (some of which overlap and are redundant)

2. A deployment model of both on-premise (in a company-owned data center) and in three different Cloud/SaaS environments

3. Applications that have both Security and Technical risk (debt)

4. Differing geographical usage

Benefits and Final Thoughts and Benefits

We live in a world full of disruption and competition. Early identification and connection of these viewpoints are critical to making the correct investments and realizing your goals. Through this approach and diligence, you can have all these viewpoints at your disposal and in real-time.