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Business Capability Heatmaps

Business Capability Heatmaps

Business Capability Heatmaps are a substantial artifact to create compelling and colorful views, which can be a valuable artifact in highlighting and showcasing essential considerations regarding business capabilities to senior management.

If you are a business architect, business analyst or enterprise architect, it will behoove you well to create and present business capability heatmaps.

So, first things first. The term heat map is coined by Cormac Kinney in the institutional securities trading context.

Wikipedia defines a heat map (or heatmap) as a graphical representation of data where the individual values contained in a matrix are represented as colors. Fractal maps and tree maps both often use a similar system of color-coding to describe the values taken by a variable in a hierarchy.

What are Business Capability Heatmaps?

First, to be sure, let’s agree on the definition of what is a business capability. Capabilities are “What” a business does. And business capability heatmaps are where one uses business capabilities, which are decomposed into a granular level of detail to capture the essence of what business does, and juxtapose them with various assessment parameters and generates a visual artifact that shows a range of values, often represented in different colors. There is a conceptual/theoretical paper for those of you who are academically inclined.

Is there a List of Business Capabilities Heatmaps?

The sky is the limit regarding what types of business capabilities heat maps one can generate. The following are but a few examples.

  • Capability Assessment heat map: Capabilities can be assessed on multiple dimensions, such as strategic importance, maturity, technology enablement, resource adequacy et al.
  • Capability-based Vendor Evaluation Heatmaps: When you are considering a system implementation (buy or build; replacement or initial), you can take the capabilities you need in a system, decomposed to a lower level of granularity, and the vendors you are considering to create a heat map. The evaluation parameters can be functionality, usability, deployment options, etc. and rate the vendors on a scale to create a Vendor evaluation heat map.
  • Capability-based Merger Analysis Heat Map: A heat map that shows the state-of-the-state of various capabilities between the acquiring firm and the target acquisition.
  • Capability-based Project Prioritization Heatmaps: If you triangulate the state-of-the-state of business capabilities and the projects that are on the anvil, and score them on their ability to bridge the gaps and evolve the capabilities, it will align your spend with your priorities.
  • Capabilities to Applications/IT Services Heatmaps: Capabilities are an abstraction and are realized by capabilities, data, and applications/systems. A heat map that relates the capabilities to various applications/systems will help in analyzing the footprint, fragmentation, and overlaps.

When should I create a Business Capability Heatmaps?

Building Heat Maps:

  • CUNY has detailed tutorials on heat maps in Excel
  • offers a tutorial. (Note: It may involve registration)
  • offers a free tutorial.

Some business capability heat maps are triggered based on a specific circumstance – such as an M&A event or a vendor evaluation. Many other heat maps could be periodic, preferably annual, so that there is continuity, and allows the user to generate a sequential year-over-year analysis.

How do I build Business Capability Heatmaps?

First, we assume that you have a well-conceived and validated capability model. Depending on the type of heat maps you want to generate, compile a list of categories, parameters, and scoring values. Assign different colors to represent the scoring values. Then it is actual scoring – whether it is scored once using a Delphi method and arriving at a consensus, or multiple evaluators scoring the same capabilities and coming up with an equal or weighted average – to generate the heatmaps.

Who is the audience for Business Capability Heatmaps?

Probably, this question should be asked first, and the business capability heat maps should be tailored to the audience. The executive audience will be interested in summary overviews, aggregate scoring values, top ten and bottom ten type representations. The operating level folks – business architects, enterprise architects, solution architects, IT managers, Product Owners – would like the details, such as the interrelationships, detailed scoring, and ability to conduct what-if analysis.

How does Capstera help with Business Capability Heatmaps?

Capstera offers a spreadsheet type interface called Lenses. Registered users can leverage existing capability models, and pre-generated templates to create business capability heat maps. And of course, a user can create new lenses. The users can define or customize categories, parameters, scoring values, and display methods. Last but not the least, these can be exported to Excel for further analysis.

Write to Support at Capstera dot com to request a free business capability heatmap template.


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