Establishing a business capability model that is agreed upon and used by across the organization can be very challenging to accomplish. We've seen organizations take all kinds of approaches. Some met these approaches with success, and some met failure. Here we will cover our recommended way to establish a model, identify capability experts, and anchor the model within your organization.
Establishing the Model
A business capability model is a technique managed and used by the Enterprise Architecture function. When establishing a model, Ardoq recommends starting with an industry model or Ardoq’s best practice Business Capability model. From there you can easily adapt and extend. The article “6 Best Practices for Defining Business Capabilities” covers key considerations when defining or extending a business capability model.
By using an existing model, you will avoid unnecessary discussions on what a capability is in the first place. Capability models should be refined and validated with input from your business stakeholders. This is done for two reasons. Firstly, the goal of the model is to establish a common business vocabulary around what the business does, and this can only be done in collaboration with business stakeholders. While their input is very helpful in allowing Architecture to understand what the business does, the Architect is responsible for ensuring the consistency and integrity of the model, even if others provide the domain knowledge.
Business Capability Model
R=Responsible A=Accountable C=Consult I=Inform
You can see in the simple RACI matrix above that the Architect is Responsible and Accountable for the model but should Consult their stakeholders.
Secondly, by developing the model with stakeholders, they are introduced to the concept of business capabilities and continual exposure to the model will further ingrain the concept and use of business capabilities in how they plan and operate.
Defining the Experts
Architects should act as stewards to guide the definition and information collection around each capability. To achieve this, we use the Is Expert In reference to connect experts to capabilities. Remember that Architecture is responsible for maintaining the Business Capability Model, so Ardoq recommends that the business capability experts be a type of architect that has a good understanding of what capabilities are. Additionally, you should only have 1-2 experts per capability. An example of this is a Commercial Architect (domain or division/portfolio architect), who will be an expert in all of the Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service capabilities defined in the model.
Socializing and Anchoring the Model
The goal is not to create a perfect model. Rather, it is to create something that allows Architecture to aggregate information such as cost or to classify market differentiation. This enables meaningful discussions and enables strategic change. We recommend starting with the simplest Business Capability Model possible, then iterate to more detail as you need to aggregate different types of information. The capability experts should take the first pass for their domains to identify missing, redefine existing, and remove unnecessary capabilities. Once the capability experts have extended the model to the best of their knowledge, their business stakeholders can collect additional input and start to validate the model. The intent is to be democratic with the model, and this is best done with a model that is fairly complete and embedded in the EA team. In the discussion with stakeholders, the business capability primer deck is a great resource to frame what the capabilities are and their purpose.
The development of a business capability model is an iterative process that will take several revisions and changes, and that is normal. There will come a time when the model will start to stabilize. You can then shift focus from defining the model to maturing it. This same iterative approach should be used in the business capability realization journey as well.
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