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Business Capability Map Example

If you are new to business architecture and looking for a Business Capability Map example, you’ve come to the right place.

First, let’s get the definition of business capability map out of the way. Business Capabilities encapsulate what a business does and can do.

Second, if you are interested in learning how to build a business capability map and what business capability mapping methodology to use, please follow the links.

Needless to add, the sample capability map outlined here is just an example and may not fit every organization. One can argue endlessly about the business capability example below regarding placement of capabilities, the grouping, the number of capabilities at level 1, and of course other missing capabilities. This is not meant to be a be-all-end-all – the mother of all business capability maps.

Let’s dissect the sample enterprise business capability model listed below:

Business Capability Map Example - Enterprise Level 1 Capabilities


Principles followed in building the business capability map example:

  • The example capability map belongs to a large enterprise and is meant to be industry agnostic, and generic to frame this discussion.
  • It is a level 1 representation of an enterprise business capability map.
  • The numbering of capabilities is a best practice to group a logical set of related capabilities under a standard umbrella.
  • Mostly, the names of capabilities are nouns, trying to describe the “What.”
  • The capabilities try to follow a lifecycle view of the enterprise, while of course, not all supporting capabilities follow the norm, as many activities are interspersed and intertwined during the natural flow of business.
  • There is an effort to keep the top-level capabilities to about 10. This is not a rigid rule, but a best practice.

One can argue endlessly about the business capability example below in terms of placement of capabilities, the grouping, the number of capabilities at level 1, and of course other missing capabilities. The business capability map sample is not meant to be a be-all-end-all – the mother of all business capability maps.

Now the questions, concerns, comments one may have regarding the business capability mapping example.

Business Capability Map Example – Rationale and Level Set: 

  • Why is “Strategy and Planning” not at level 1? It’s a judgment call. Strategy and Planning are essential, but we believe they don’t rise to be a level 1 capability. In our judgment, Strategy and Planning belong to capability 6 – Business Administration and Operations – as a lower level capability. Of course, one can argue whether Business Administration and Operations should are two separate capabilities. And another is whether Business Management is a better terminology, rather than Business Administration. We will not quibble with any of those comments, and it may depend on the vocabulary, culture, and norms of how an enterprise views these capabilities.
  • Why is “Manufacturing” not included as a capability? We’ve surmised Manufacturing is a specific capability that pertains to companies involved in the manufacturing of say physical goods. So, we tried to make it generic and added Capability 2 – Product/Service Development. But if you are a company for which Manufacturing is a critical capability, you might include that as a capability.
  • Where is “Customer Service” capability? We think Customer Service is a lower level capability of “Customer Management.” A lower level capability does not necessarily mean it is “lower” in importance. It just means Customer Management is a more umbrella term.
  • Should “Legal, Risk, and Compliance (LRC)” capability belong in the top tier? We could make a cogent argument either way, and there is no one right answer. For companies that are in highly regulated industries, one may want to include LRC capability at level 1. As for plain vanilla industries that do not have cumbersome regulatory mandates and stringent compliance norms, the LRC capability may have at a level below the “Business Administration and Operations” capability.
  • If you have a capability called “Supply Chain Management”, why not include the other side of the equation, a capability called “Demand Chain Management”?Of course, it is entirely valid to change the name of Marketing and Sales to Demand Chain Management. In fact, you can throw in Product/Service Distribution and Delivery capability into the Demand Chain Management. It is what you are comfortable with and what terminology is in vogue in your company.
  • Why is “IT Management” not included in the level 1 Capability? The thought here was that IT management is not a business capability and hence not included here. It could go into Business Administration and Operations a next level capability. However, if your business is IT and If you are a predominantly IT-driven enterprise, IT Management may warrant consideration as a level 1. Nothing set in stone.

You may well ask why did we include only Level 1 Capabilities in the sample Business Capability Map? Well, we advocate deeper level drill down of all capabilities. We are just trying to paint a conceptual picture of the highest-level capabilities. Below, you will find the drill down of “Human Resources Management” capability below. (The more visual among you may have noticed the Human Resources Management is in the mustard color.)

Business Capability Map Example- Human Resources Capability

Business Capability Map Example – Drilldown to Level 2 for Human Resources Capability Pillar

While trying to decompose the highest level business capability into its granular components, please remember the following:

  • Capabilities are related and are grouped, but they are not necessarily hierarchical. 
  • While it is not mandatory, thinking about a lifecycle view of a capability would help capture the whole. For example, the classic “Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action” of marketing could come in handy while decomposing the “Customer Acquisition” capability. 

And for those of you who think you will need to go deeper, the notion with which we wholeheartedly agree here is an example of the lower level capabilities using Human Resources Management capability pillar as a sample.  

Business Capability Map Example - Decomposition of one capability

Business Capability Map Example: Decomposition of HR Capability into Lower Levels of Granularity

There are several advantages of drilling down the capabilities into logical and elemental building blocks, mainly as you use them for crafting capability-based transformation roadmaps and capture requirements as capability evolution needs. 

Now, there you have it. A business capability map example, and all the considerations and questions that go into the construction of a capabilities model. If you ask different practitioners, each one will have a slightly different take. One may say use Noun-Verb forms; another may voice an opinion that Capabilities are an unnecessary distraction, and Value Streams are paramount. Some others may say, the difference between capabilities, value streams and processes is a distinction without a difference.

Irrespective of how you have built the business capabilities model, you should follow a few simple principles:

  • Is the business capability map mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive?
  • Are the placement of capabilities at each level sufficiently granular and are they of equal stature?
  • Do capabilities convey a specific “What” even at lower levels?
  • Do the capability terms resonate with both business and technology teams?

A sample business capability map to be used as an example, and all the considerations and questions that go into the construction of a business capability map.

If you search far and wide, you may find some other business capability map examples like this here and there. The key message here is there is no universal truth – we are not dealing with quantum physics here. Take the ideas and incorporate them judiciously into your work as a business architect while crafting a business capability model. Whatever you do, please practical, pragmatic, persistent and purpose-driven while creating a business capability map.  

A business capability map example is just that – if you want something specific and customized, Capstera consulting will be glad to help. 

Please consider a few pre-built and customizable business capability maps from Capstera Store

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