Every business capability map requires a starting point – may it be existing internal documentations, generic process descriptions, or a purchased best practices capability map. Each of the potential sources has its advantages and disadvantages which are described below.
Internal Sources to Develop Business Capabilities
Internal inputs provide a strong view on company individual insights and capabilities. They can also be brought into a ranking regarding their strategic or operational focus, starting with the most strategic one:
- Domain / company strategies provide a very high-level strategic view of the future capabilities that the company desires. As these strategies are not holistic, they focus on areas instead of covering all capabilities of a company.
- User journeys provide a better view on what the company requires in order to serve a customer. Although customer journeys are not always available and are, for instance, more common in Marketing Departments, than in Finance and Accounting Departments, they, however, provide a well consumer-focused view which is also a requirement of many organizations nowadays.
- For some use cases, process descriptions are basically the predecessor of capability maps. They also cover most important areas of an organization. They are broadly established, and much effort was required to develop them. They are therefore also a good start for designing a capability map. However, capability maps that have process maps as foundation are very likely to have a too strong focus on the process aspect of capabilities, not weighting the technology and people aspects sufficiently.
- Application functionalities are the most detailed option to develop a capability map. They offer a bottom-up approach to understanding what the company is able to do – or better what its applications are able to do. This approach can be very beneficial if you want to compare similar applications and make them comparable based on the business capabilities they support. However, for broad business capability maps, they are usually too detailed, too much focused on the technology aspect of a capability, and it is too much effort to go through all functionalities of all your applications.
External Sources to Develop Business Capabilities
If you decide to consider external sources, you may look at the following three:
- APQC is a broad, widely accepted process framework which is available with different industry focuses. Its advantages include that it is quite generic and tries to cover all aspects of a company and it is for free as well. The disadvantage is that it is a process framework – so it has the same process-bias as described above.
- FrameworX is a framework from TM Forum and it includes a separate process, application, and information view for organizations. It might therefore be more balanced than APQC. TM Forum also provides several additional helpful information, e.g. about APIs, and you might take a look at them. If you are working in the telecommunications industry, you are lucky, because FrameworX has evolved within this industry and still has a strong focus on it. If you are not, well, then this is your biggest disadvantage of FrameworX.
- If you want to purchase a developed generic capability map then you might want to take a look at capstera.com. According to their website, they also provide “ready to use” capability maps with different industry focuses. Prices start at a few hundred dollars up to 6,000 dollars. Such capability maps might be a good starting point; however, it must be clear that such a capability map cannot be “ready to use” for your organization. Capability maps must fit your use case and must represent the abilities of your company and not of your industry. I find it also disappointing that capstera does not provide a preview of how they understand capabilities, how they develop their maps, what’s behind, or how a sample looks like.