What do tigers and zebras have to do with Business Capabilities? Imagine you have a zoo, and you want to make a catalog of your existing animals for reporting purposes. Which attributes would you use to categorize your animals?
In the case of tigers and zebras, they're both striped mammals. Thus both belong in the same class. But you cannot simply put them under the same category, because one is a Carnivora and the other a Perissodactyla. If you identify them by the wrong attributes (both have stripes), you will end up with your tigers eating your zebras when you put them in the same cage?
What Are Business Capabilities
We can tell the story of an enterprise by using the Elements of Circumstance or the Primitive Interrogatives (5W1H). The why, how, and what are the highest order of primitive concepts. The why is the strategic planning domain. The how are the processes, and the who, where, and where are the details of those processes. Lastly, the what describes the kind of work the enterprise does, i.e., the Capabilities.
A capability map is a managed taxonomy of what we do in the enterprise.
We would start by building a functional decomposition model in the old days. Today that's a Capability Map. So capabilities are what the enterprise does, and they are abstract concepts that represent combinations of tangible things:
All of the above categories are combined to deliver the Capability. They are also the four areas that you can use to assess your Capability Health and Maturity.
How to Define Business Capabilities
Even if you start with a Reference Model, you often have to create your Capabilities from scratch. You would also usually need to define an area in the Capability Map that the Reference Model doesn't cover and is unique to your enterprise. (Doing Capability Based Planning on ServiceNow is very easy with Designer.)
To do that, you should use the noun-verb convention for defining processes:
Step 1: identify the noun. Show the business objects. These are things that the business cares about, e.g., "product".
Step 2: start pairing that noun with some verbs, e.g., "Product Management" or "Product Manufacturing".
DOs And DON'Ts of Capability Mapping
Here are some tips we have gathered for you:
- The Capability Map should be a pure hierarchy.
- Capabilities should be unique, mutually exclusive, with no overlap and no repetition within the model, and all children belong to only one parent.
- Capabilities should be high-level, things that stakeholders typically care about.
Hear everything on the topic in our on-demand webinar:
business capabilities webinar
Advantages of Having Business Capabilities on Servicenow
If you use ServiceNow to store your data, you can then manage it directly through embedded processes and workflows across the whole enterprise without leaving the platform. And by using applications that live on the platform, your data quality automatically goes up, because you don't need to worry about inaccurate or outdated data. Applications such as Designer and UPM-X use live data you already have on ServiceNow and make sure that your Capability Maps and reporting are updated in real-time. This availability of live data is especially great for the Technology Health & Technology Risk, which is usually one of the biggest issues for Enterprise Architects.
One of the biggest problems Enterprise Architects face is getting the right data and making sure that it is up-to-date. This is why having your data and Enterprise Architecture solution on the same platform is both time and resource saving!
Learn more on the topic by watching our webinar about Business Capabilities 101 on-demand:
business capabilities 101
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