A collection of advice received on Capability architectures

I work a lot with capabilities and in my sports interests capabilities are hold up as the single unique differentiator among people. However on the web there is not much information to be found on this simple but rather elusive concept as so far as it is related to Enterprise Architecture. So to extend my own knowledge I asked a question on twitter.com.

The Question
@greblhad Working on capability models any experience, info, smpls, frmwks, ref.models you like to share? #entarch, #bizarch #togaf #soa

The Answers
@tetradian gave these hints

Other sources I touched point with

@Architecture and Governance have published a series of articles on capability architectures

@Harvard Business Review had published an article

@Jonathan Shapiro had published on the subject from another angle

@IASA has published an article in its learning library

@Forrester has published at least six research reports on the subject (I do not have access so I’ve read none of them)

@wikipedia collects a bunch of stuff on capabilities most of it related to the military use of the concept.

@Canada or at least the military in Canada released their big capability work just recently.

@Microsoft Operations Framework defines a function as a specific type of capability. In the text on page 6 from “Cross Reference ITILL v3 and MOF 4.0” it says “MOF defines a process as interrelated tasks that, taken together, produce a defined, desired result. A function is an organizational capability, a combination of people, processes (activities), and technology, specialized in fulfilling a specific type of work, and responsible for specific end results. Functions use processes

@TOGAF 9 defines capability in various ways but in chapter 34 under the section “Core Metamodel Entities” a definition is made “Function describes units of business capability at all levels of granularity. The term “function” is used to describe a unit of business capability at all levels of granularity, encapsulating terms such as value chain, process area, capability, business function, etc. Any bounded unit of business function should be described as a function.”

In the end

I’ve read a lot of reports and white papers and my conclusion so far is that not one of these can tell me the difference between a business function and a business capability. I’ve still to see a definition of the concept of business capability that could convince me that they are right. I have however found one instance where they used capability based planing and capability maps that are worth studying and that is the English Civil Service. What makes them special that I separate them from the rest of the sources; well first of all its the fact that they are the only ones using real capabilities and not disguised functions. They have managed to create a small set of capabilities and have actually followed up on them which shows that their framework is functional.

In my own work I usually refer to capabilities as a broad concept that truly needs to include parts from every column of the Zachman Framework.


One thought on “A collection of advice received on Capability architectures

  1. My take on Capability is that it is the transition between a Strategic Requirement and the collection of Services and Components to implement that Strategic Requirement.

    In other words: Goal -> Sub-Goal -> Requirement/Constraint ->> Capability ->> Services ->> Components (BADT Domains).

    A Capability Architecture is a Structured Collection of Services and Components that deliver the Strategic Capability described. It is also the definition for a Project WBS and defines the Project/Solution Architecture.

    A Segment Architecture is a Structured Collection of Capabilities that realizes one or more Sub-Goals. It is also the definition for the Program WBS and defines the Program/Solution Architecture.

    An Enterprise Architecture is a Structured Collection of Segments & Capabilities that realizes all Strategic Goals. It is also the definition for the Portfolio WBS and defines the Portfolio/Solution Architecture.



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