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What is a Capability Model? 


A capability model describes the complete set of capabilities an organisation requires to execute its business model or fulfil its mission


To help understand the concept of capability modelling and it’s potential benefits, the following 2 YouTube videos give a useful background.

The first is a short 5 min introduction the 2nd is longer (30 mins) and is from the Open Group.






What is a Business Capability?


A business capability defines “what” a business does at its core. This differs from “how” things are done, where they are done, or by whom. Business capabilities are the core of the business architecture.

Before undertaking this work it was agreed that a ‘standard’ definition for a capability should be agreed.

  • Capabilities define what an organisation needs to be able to do, in order to successfully achieve the outcomes that deliver value to their customers
  • A capability defines what the business does or what it can do, not how it is done or who is doing it. They are different from business processes, functions, services, organisation units, or IT systems, although these may all contribute to delivery of a capability
  • Capabilities are meaningful points of investment for the purposes of investment planning. That is, each capability should represent a current or potential scope of investment or divestiture for business and/or technology change

Capabilities have four main attributes:

  1. A capability describes what – not how – something is being done. Faxing and emailing are not capabilities because they describe ‘how’ a capability is fulfilled. Similarly, mailing an invoice is not a capability. Financial Management is a capability because it describes what is being done
  2. Capabilities have outcomes. Communication with a client or customer is not really a capability because it has no clearly defined outcome. A Customer Information Management capability would, however, have the outcome of ensuring that a customer has high integrity information associated with it at all times. Lower level capabilities have more specific but related outcomes to their parent
  3. A capability is not a process or value stream. Topic categories that require movement, such as the concept of authorising, validating or engaging in some sequence of activities fall into a process category. A process or value stream stands out because it veers into “how” something is being done
  4. Capabilities must be clearly defined. Capabilities must be named in a way that will be recognised by the business and have clear but succinct definitions. Calling something Account Management requires not just a definition of the management portion but also the account portion of the term. This forces a common view of the business

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