Last year I received an Email from a student in Mumbai, India, saying how useful the site was; and could I please start writing again! Well, it’s true, it’s been a while, but pleased to say that this week I have published a new article on Business Capability Modelling; and a supporting article on the base theory, the Resource-based View (RBV) of the Firm.
In recent years the use of Business Capability Modelling has increasingly formed the backbone of my business architecture design work. This was not always the case. Back in 1997, when I did my first Business Architect role, the primary, or ‘anchor’, design domain was the Business Process view. A lot has changed in the intervening 20 years. One, there are a lot more Business Architects around – it was a very lonely place back then; and two, the primary design domain has moved to the Business Capability view.
I found that the application of Business Capabilities can be highly adaptive to the situation you find yourself in. For one global organisation, we where developing a Target IT Architecture. The main focus was to rationalise and simplify the IT estate, which had grown over many years through acquisition, so as you can imagine, there was a lot (and I mean a lot) of duplication.
Our approach was to focus purely on the definition of the technology enabled Business Capabilities, leaving the exercise of modelling the higher level capabilities and non-IT related capabilities for another time. This provided us with a solid base on which to understand the current IT estate, identify the duplicated applications and technologies, and start to define the simplified and rationalised future state target architecture.
For another organisation, I was engaged as a Business Solution Architect, designing a number of different business solutions. Although the use of Business Capabilities was not well established, I created a Business Capability Model for each solution, to provide an anchor for the more traditionally developed high level requirements and use cases. This allowed us to look across the IT estate and identify any existing solutions that could be re-used; and helped place the new solutions within a wider strategic context; which in turn had a significant impact on their design.
One particular solution was heavily based on a Service Orientated Architecture (SOA); and the Business Capabilities allowed us to model the relationship to the logical IT Services, including the APIs, through to the physical components. This direct relationship between the business and IT design domains, is something you simply cannot do any other way; and it provides a huge advantage in terms of ensuring the design integrity of the solution; and in helping to road-map the delivery.
In one case, we were replacing a bespoke solution that had reached the end of its service life. As a specific set of requirements and use cases, it looked unique. But on identifying its Business Capabilities, it was found not to be; and could be delivered through an existing technology platform.
Although based on some very long standing business strategic management theory, It is still very early days with Business Capabilities and their practical application to Enterprise Architecture. Unfortunately, quite a bit of confusion has crept in, which I cover in the article. Hopefully this will provide some much needed clarity.