Saturday, May 25, 2013

EA as Business Capability Producer

A business capability is the ability to conduct the business of a particular organization in a particular way, meeting predefined requirements derived from the business model of that organization. As such, a business capability is then a feature of the operating model of the organization. Capability uniqueness would start with – “What the organization does with Distinction which differentiates it from others in the same market place or industry” - as the basis for formulating business strategy. EA (Enterprise Architecture) as agent of strategy, which role it plays in orchestrating business capabilities?


  1. EA as Capability Observer/Orchestrator. A capability is a set of business processes strategically understood. And competitive success depends on transforming a company’s key processes into strategic capabilities that consistently provide superior value to the customer. Though capabilities are inherent in the system, EA's first role is to observe them and report on them. EA's second mission is to get someone ELSE to improve specific capabilities, in a specific order. 
  1. EA as Capability Facilitator: Enterprises in essence consist of a portfolio or matrix of capabilities that are used in various combinations to achieve outcomes. Capability is the quality of being capable; to have the capacity or ability to do something, achieve specific effects or declared goals and objectives. A Core Competency is a deep proficiency that enables a company to deliver unique value to. Doesn’t EA have the capability to create EA related artifacts like models, Meta data, and architectural designs to facilitate capabilities? 
  1. EA as Communication Tool in terms of concrete capability implementation: An instance of a business capability consists of a combination of certain organizational patterns and positions, processes, people and their competences acting in the organizational positions and process roles, as well as technologies supporting the work of these people. EA needs to be able to characterize the maturity of such business capabilities. Climbing up in maturity, a rough order could be:
    - State of intent communicated
    - Plans made for implementation
    - Resources (people, funding, technologies) committed for executing the plan
    - Feedback like metrics or KPIs in place for monitoring the performance
    - Feedback systematically analyzed and processed for continuous improvement  
  1. EA as Sustainable Capability Framework, that continued to mature, develop, and move forward with the times and enables business to:
    a) avoid re-inventing the wheel
    b) ensure EA efforts were value-adding
    c) provide a sustainable approach for clients         

  1. EA as Capability Life Cycle Manager: Within that portfolio, a capability will be transient unless
    managed and maintained over time. Therefore, a typical capability lifecycle spans needs, requirements, acquisition, in-service and obsolescence/disposal phases. Once the EA program has been adopted and implemented, wouldn’t its capabilities contribute to lifecycles; help manage requirements and acquisitions, etc…  quality and efficiency of capability is measured in the context it’s used
  1. EA Provides Capability View: There are two views of capability: A Strategic View, and A Resource View. And capability-based strategy will be crafted to not just set up the strategic choices, but also following the realistic process-driven actions. Would it be fair to say that architects can select a set of capabilities and flag them as "strategic" if they support competitiveness along the lines of a particular strategy?  Would that also mean that you could start with a set of 20 strategies, and 500 capabilities, and each strategy may light up some set of capabilities? Would you agree that, upon completion of this exercise, business would have a set of capabilities that are necessary for the complete list of strategies 
  1. EA as Capability Producer: Enterprise is the sum of capabilities. Process "step" is close to capability but more "broader" including inputs and outputs (information + material) and quality. There is the very practical question that what is the size of a business capability and how many of them should a certain organization have. Frankly, this is not built in to the definition, and it should not. An organization soon realizes that not everything that moves should be called a business capability. The concept should be used with caution, bearing in mind that the management has a limited capacity for such animals. Only a small number of operating model features can be developed at the same time. Skill + Capacity + Tool = Capability      
In conclusion, the value that EA brings to the table is not just the collection or creation of artifacts, it is not just aligning business and technology, it is not just business improvement but in fact a combination of all of these factors and more. EA needs to be change agent, the capability producer and the complexity master.







2 comments:

How about telling us what EA stands for? I know of two terms but I have a feeling you're not talking about Enterprise Agreements or Electronic Arts.

Thanks for comment, good reminding upon how to use acronym with comprehensive clarification. EA here means Enterprise Architecture or relevant profession Enterprise Architect. thanks again.

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