Topic 4 – Enterprise Architects should focus on Business Capabilities rather than technology

I am not anti-technology, but let me say that customers don’t pay businesses for the brilliant implementation of their technology solutions.  They pay them for the work they produce.  But too often EA’s and IT people lose track of their core reason for being, to provide the architecture and supporting infrastructure so a business can produce goods and services people want to buy.  Technology is only worthwhile if it allows you to achieve your business objectives.

In their Cutter Consortium paper “The Business Capability Map: The Rosetta Stone of Business/IT Alignment” (Cutter Consortium, 2011), authors William Ulrich and Michael Rosen argue that business capabilities provide a new language abstraction that supports Business/IT Transformation. By focusing on the “what” a business does, and not the how (i.e., the complexities of the business processes and/or IT solutions), Business Capabilities are useful when framing the benefits of EA-based initiatives for executives.  The paper makes the point that mapping capabilities to business core functions, supporting capabilities (HR, legal and procurement) and their value added capabilities (IT, customer management, account management, etc.). Essentially, the map allows the business to decompose the services a business provides and allowing management and employees to view the structure of the business.

Think of the capability map as a blueprint for displaying the capabilities of a business. It is important to keep in mind that this maps displays the business as opposed to the enterprise since the business will likely extend past the enterprise. For example, if a business outsources a number of its capabilities this would be included within the business but out of scope of the enterprise.

It is important for a business to have one map for its business as opposed to separate maps for each business unit. With one map each unit within the business will map their capabilities to the larger capabilities of the entire business. These business units will than add their contributions to and leverage this one map.

As it relates to EA, one of the values of the mapping the capabilities to the business architecture, is that the business-to-business and business-to-IT capabilities provide much of the analysis associated with the business and IT transformations. This allows for greater decomposition of these activities even to the point where the activities can be decomposed down to business processes.


Author: leicaguy

For the most part I am an optimist. I believe that anything is possible, and I believe that my biggest impediment to success is myself.

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