Getting Started with Business Capability Modeling

Learn what Business Capability Modeling is, what it entails, and why it is important for your organization.

Kristine Marhilevica avatar
Written by Kristine Marhilevica
Updated over a week ago

Modeling your business capabilities is foundational to understanding your business. More importantly, connecting the strategic “what” we do with the tactical “how” we do it.

Capabilities are the bread and butter for most enterprise architects, and for this reason, Ardoq has improved and standardized our best practices for Business Capability Modeling.

To properly map your business capabilities, we have created a standard template that you can use to answer these key questions:

Questions to Be Answered:

  1. What does my enterprise do? How can performance be measured and analyzed so it can be improved?

  2. What are the business capabilities in my organization?

  3. What capabilities are differentiating for my organization?

  4. How are my capabilities implemented?

  5. How interconnected and complex are these capabilities?

  6. Who is responsible for our critical capabilities and who helps realize these capabilities?

  7. Do the most important capabilities have the right investment* to succeed?

  8. Are we depending on critical roles, applications, or technology that are old or overleveraged?

  9. How mature is our ability to realize a critical capability and what is the desired maturity?

Data Required

The metamodel is the core of your Business Capability model and needs to be defined and structured for getting the right data for your objectives. The information below is included in the business capability modeling and realization use case guide, which is available in-app from the best practice menu.

For this example, we will use our standard naming convention so that filtering and examples are consistent. You can use your own naming convention and simply replace the fields recommended in the guide with your own custom field descriptions where applicable.

data required

Component Types:

  1. Business Capabilities Workspace (Flexible): Business Capability

  2. Applications Workspace (Flexible): Application

  3. People and Organizations Workspace (Flexible):

    1. Person

    2. Organizational Unit

Business Capability Modeling and Realization:

Capability Fields

  • Market Differentiator - Number

  • Maturity - Number

  • Complexity Level - Calculated Number

Governance Fields

  • Approved - Checkbox

  • Review Date - Date

Lifecycle Fields:

  • Lifecycle Phase - List

View Modifier Fields:

  • Component Level - Calculated Number

  • Component Order - List

Here is where you can find a complete review of the definitions of the components, references, and fields in the Business Capabilities Modeling and Realization metamodel.

IT Cost Management

Total Attributed Cost - Calculated Number

Total Cost - Calculated Number

Here is a complete review of the definitions of the components, references, and fields in the IT Cost Management metamodel.

Application Rationalization

  • Functional Fit-List

  • Availability and Quality - List

  • Business Strategic Fit - List

  • Business Fit - Calculated Number

  • Technology Integrity - List

  • Maintainability and Agility - List

  • Technical Strategic Fit - List

  • Technical Fit - Calculated Number

  • Strategic Rating - Calculated List

Click here for a complete introduction to the definitions of the components, references, and fields in Application Rationalization

Answering Your Key Questions

What Is the Capability Model of Our Organization?

The first and most obvious step to answering this question is to simply map your capabilities in Ardoq and use our visualizations to dynamically produce your capability model. To build out your capability model, you have a few options:

d) Other ways to import data

a) Collaborate in Ardoq

We recommend you use the out-of-the-box capability workspace as your starting point. The capabilities can and should be nested in hierarchies according to their level of importance and classification by domain. Follow this guide on 6 Best Practices for Defining Your Business Capabilities to get an understanding of not just where you are, but also where you need to be.

We recommend using the Grid Editor, as it is the most efficient in getting data in via the app UI.

If you are looking to collaborate with the wider organization, we have a pre-configured survey which you can find under the Survey menu:

Ardoq surveys

b) Using One of Our Industry Specific Reference Models

The BCM Module comes out of the box with 10 Industry Specific Reference Models which you can use to get started. Reference models included:

  • Asset Management

  • Broadcast Media

  • Health Insurance

  • Life Insurance

  • Property and Casualty Insurance

  • Manufacturing

  • Retail

  • Software Development

  • Education

  • Utilities

You can find these in the workspace called “Industry Capability Models (Examples)”. Or, download an Excel template if you would like to start with the reference models in Excel.

Open both the demo example of “Business Capabilities” and the “Industry Capability Models (Examples)" workspace. Find the industry most relevant to you and copy the core capabilities into the existing “Business Capability” workspace.

You can likely reuse the strategic and supporting capabilities across most industries. Delete the generic core capabilities and you are ready to enrich the model with your own data.

c) Import via Excel

If you already have your capability model defined in an excel sheet, you can use our Excel integration to quickly get your data into Ardoq. We have also provided a pre-configured excel template with import mapping to ease the process even further.

Take advantage of our Excel import templates to streamline data entry and speed up the process:

d) Other ways to Import data

  1. XML - the export file format from drawing tools is typically unstructured data but these can still be imported into Ardoq. See the documentation for a more detailed description of how to use XML import. the document

  2. Azure AD - To populate people data you can use the document Ardoq’s Azure AD integration to automate the import of data from your Azure Active Directory implementation.

  3. Custom Integrations - are offered through a comprehensive REST-API as well as wrappers for selected programming languages. You can use the REST-API to integrate with Ardoq, for example, to automate documentation, or to create custom tools that make use of data in Ardoq.

Visualizing Your Capability Model

Once you start to get data into Ardoq, you can watch your business capability map dynamically update in any of our out-of-the-box visualizations. Two views that are especially useful in looking at business capabilities are the Dependency Map View and the Capability Map.

These two are very similar views but have some minor capabilities that give you different types of control over the stylization and format of the view. The Capability View for example can use the "Component Order" field to determine the placement of capabilities.

Ardoq component order

Once you find the view or views best suited to getting an overview of your capabilities, you will likely want to add a perspective to manage what you see and how it is formatted.

Simple filters to only include your capability model for example can help you start telling the story of what you have and how it is connected, performing, costing, etc.

Ardoq perspectives business capabilties

Quick filter applied to only show the Business Capability Workspace.

What Is the Level of Maturity and Differentiation of Our Capabilities?

Once you have answered the first question, the next set of questions to answer are more geared at evaluating your capabilities. Two common attributes used to evaluate capabilities are Maturity and Market Differentiation.

In Ardoq, we have included these as fields on the capabilities. Using the grid editor or surveys, populate and maintain these fields with the help of domain experts across your organization.

As part of the analysis of these fields, you can create heatmaps using conditional formatting, tabular overviews, and dashboards. Again, the Capability Map and Dependency Map views will likely be the best views for analyzing these performance attributes.

Note: Keep in mind that all views are context-sensitive, meaning you can drill down to just your core capabilities or to w specific domain.

Ardoq maturity heatmap

Using conditional formatting on maturity fields, we have created a maturity heatmap in the image above. If you want to learn more on how to create a heatmap in Ardoq using conditional formatting, you can check out this article on the Ardoq Heat Map:

Assessing Data Completeness

Once you have your data you need to understand how complete it is. To do this you create queries to aggregate and summarize the quality of the data set that can be used in Dashboards. Having high data quality is critical for delivering insights at the end of this exercise.

Queries are used to populate the widgets in the dashboards. There are 2 types of queries:

  1. Advanced search: Your basic building block search.

  2. Gremlin query: For the more complex queries that leverage the capabilities of the underlying graph.

There are some prebuilt data quality queries following the BCM metamodel.

The queries can then be used to populate a dashboard or leverage the prebuilt Capability Data Quality Dashboard. The dashboard display will highlight action items or pinpoint gaps that need to be filled.

Missing capabilities need to be socialized with stakeholders and feedback sought.

Once this process has started you need to collect the metadata for the capabilities that have been identified. This is done using by creating a Survey in Ardoq. You can either build your own survey or use the prebuilt survey to collect the information you need to get your capability information. To learn more about creating surveys see the document Surveys.

Having created the survey it should be disseminated to relevant stakeholders using Broadcasts for completion. The input information will automatically update the dashboard thereby providing an up-to-date status of capability definition.

How Are Our Capabilities Implemented?

Understanding how your capabilities are implemented is a matter of connecting your business capability map to the Departments and Applications they depend on.

Again this type of data collection can be captured via in-app reference creation, import via excel, or by sending out the accompanying survey in the BCM Module.

As you start to build out these references, your visualizations will be automatically updated with the connected components. If you are looking to get a full overview, again the Capability Map and Dependency Map are the best views. Simply update your filter sets to include the connected workspaces you are interested in.

Pro-tip: We recommend that each view tells one story. If you would like to see the applications and departments connected to your capabilities, we recommend two presentation slides, as too much information can be distracting.

Ardoq heat-mapped conditional formating with applications

In the image above, we are combining the heat-mapped conditional formatting with the applications realizing the capabilities in question.

When drilling down to understand how specific capabilities are implemented, the Block Diagram can be extremely powerful. Using simple grouping like group by “Parent All” and “Workspace” and a narrow scope gives you clarity into how your business capabilities are realized and who your experts are within that domain.

ardoq block diagram

The image above shows a Block Diagram with grouping and one degree of relationships in both directions.

Which Capabilities Are At Risk?

Identifying capabilities at risk can be done in many ways and while it can be as complex as you wish, getting started we recommend starting with some basic analysis.

Risks can be identified by:

  1. Capabilities with Low Maturity and High Market Differentiation

  2. Core capabilities with High Market Differentiation and a dependence on Applications with a Low Strategic Rating

To create a report identifying Low Maturity and High Market Differentiation we recommend the Bubble Chart. Set the X and Y axis to the fields Maturity and Market Differentiation. Adding cost to the size of the bubble or complexity can also provide better insight into the magnitude of the risk:

Ardoq buble chart low maturity high market differentiation

To identify core capabilities with High Market Differentiation and a dependence on Low Strategic Ratings you need to use a set of filters and potentially conditional formatting to improve the view.

  • Strategic Rating - Not Equal To - Tolerate

  • Strategic Rating - Not Equal To - Invest

  • Market Differentiation - Greater Than or Equal To - 3

Ardoq components filters

Using the Capability map you will get a resulting view showing only the most important capabilities and their low-rated applications.

Ardoq capability map

What Is the Associated Cost and Complexity for My Key Capabilities?

Looking at your capabilities from the perspective of their associated cost and complexity is best done using the Bubble Chart view or by generating a more typical tabular report using the Tables view. Here you can set the X and Y axis to the calculated fields “Total Allocated Cost” and “Complexity”.

  • Total Allocated Cost is a calculation of related departments’ and applications’ cost fields aggregated to each business capability.

  • Complexity is a calculation counting the sum of the number of Applications and Departments realizing the capability in question. This is a simple calculation and can be expanded upon to consider other field values or the number of integrations.

Ardoq buble chart complexity

You can drill down in the bubble chart by clicking on the capability you wish to see more about. In doing so the aggregated data will be appropriately distributed.

Ardoq bubble chart drill down

Drilling down into Sales to see which capabilities within this domain are the most costly and complex. Maintain the Data

The high-quality data that you have collected must continue to provide value to stakeholders. You should therefore try and ensure that it is always up to date. This is best achieved using Broadcasts to send out surveys at a predefined time frame. This establishes confidence and credibility with the EA team and the insights that are delivered.

You can use the prebuilt broadcast to send the capability detail survey to Experts when the review date is approaching 1 year old.

You should determine if this interval works for you and your organization. Some organizations are fast-paced and have a lot of change. If that’s the case, you might want to set the interval to 6 months. Ultimately, this frequency is something to feel out and find the right rhythm.


This was a lot of information in a long article. If it left you with more questions than answers, reach out to us! You can do so via our website or by using the in-app chat. We're happy to help.

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