Business Capability Model


A key aspect of Enterprise Architecture is aligning Business and Technology Design, but how is that actually achieved? Initial attempts at this, and we learnt through making these mistakes ourselves, tried to align Technology Architecture to Business Process Designs. Notwithstanding the fact that many organisations are still attempting this, in particular for SOA initiatives, it turns out this approach is fundamentally flawed. Business Process Models are by their very nature constantly changing, with the best organisations in the world routinely reengineering their business processes. Therefore if you have aligned your technology architecture to a point-in-time view of your organisation’s business processes, your Technology Architecture will be equally volatile, an entirely undesirable characteristic for Architecture.

In searching for a solution we had to go back to a discipline that has its origins in the design of the first Ford Factory, evolved into methods engineering and then further into the IT disciplines of Functional Decomposition in the 1980’s and Component Based Design (CBD) in the 1990’s. Somehow these disciplines got neglected by the majority of the industry in the first half of the 2000’s. The solution was to evolve our own techniques for defining a Business Capability Model.

The result of applying this technique is a model of “what the Business Does”, as opposed to “how it does it” (business process models). As a consequence, it is both much more stable over time and also much more static across businesses within the same sector, and thus a much more suitable business design artefact on which to pin Technology Design. While there are various names for the outcome of this technique, IBM calls it a Component Business Model, Microsoft refers to it as Microsoft Services Business Architecture, we have settled on the term Business Capability Model.  This concept is not unique to Fragile to Agile, however the way in which it is used to drive business and IT alignment is a proprietary technique.

While this technique has been designed for the reasons described above, we are constantly reminded of how powerful this model is as each organisation we assist finds additional uses and benefits. To us, its greatest power comes in providing a common language for conversations between the business and IT, with all the flow on benefits that come from Business and IT finally being able to talk to each other in a language they can both understand.

As an example, here is a “50,000 ft” view of the Business Capability Model for Financial Services:

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