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Business Capability Definition

Business Capability Definition

There is a lot of confusion about the business capability definition – even among practitioners. (We offer several explanations from business architecture experts.)

A business capability, a key component of business architecture, is an expression of what business does and has an ability to do.  A business capability denotes the “What” a business can do, whereas a business process outline how a particular activity gets done.  At an elemental level, a business capability is the encapsulation of the underlying functionality expressed abstractly.   While there are a lot of discussions and debates about whether a capability is a noun or a verb or a noun-verb or a gerund, we at Capstera are pragmatists and not purists, and hence we suggest your company should use what makes sense, within the broad guidelines and guardrails. 

How does a capability differ from a process, or activity, or a method or a system?

For example, “Invoice Management” is a capability; “Generating Invoices” is a process; “Mail Invoices” is an activity; “Invoice to Receipt” is a value stream; “ABCD Invoicing Software” is the system used to realize the Invoice Management capability. 

While there are a lot of discussions and debates about whether a capability is a noun or a verb or a noun-verb or a gerund, we at Capstera are pragmatists and not purists, and hence we suggest your company should use what makes sense without making the business capability map replete with the suffix “Management” or “Enablement” or another word to make it a noun.  

For example, “Invoice Management” is a capability; “Generating Invoices” is a process; “Mail Invoices” is an activity; “Invoice to Receipt” is a value stream; “ABCD Invoicing Software” is the system used to realize the Invoice Management capability. 

A set of capabilities which spans the enterprise functions constitute a capability map. A cluster of the higher level capabilities is represented in an enterprise value chain. 

A business capability is an atomic building block to model an enterprise and is a crucial input into business architecture, IT enablement, and related disciplines.  

Please review how to build a business capability map.  You may also be interested in sample business capability maps to accelerate your business capability modeling efforts. 

You may also be interested in the definitions of enterprise architecture and business architecture. 

What is your business capability definition?  Do you agree with our description and explanation of the business capability?

 

 

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