Oct 032011

How would you define the following?

  • Customer Management
  • Agent Assignment
  • Risk Rating
  • Product Management
  • Margin Determination
  • Account Expiration
  • Profit Determination
  • Research Rejection

Now, the hard part, does everyone in your organization define these terms and concepts in the exact same way?

Most organizations have multiple definitions for most of the terms they use to describe what the business does. This is fine as along as no work, communication, information, or collaborative exchange ever extends beyond the bounds of a single business unit. In reality, no business unit is an island and the semantic disconnect found in most organizations creates a fertile ground for failed initiatives, inability to execute a merger or strategic alliance, lost revenues, angry customers, and other problems. Capability mapping goes right to the heart of addressing these challenges. However, understanding, using, and representing a set of business capabilities for a business can be difficult.

Capability mapping establishes a complete view of what the business does in unambiguous, business terms. How? The capability map defines the basic business vocabulary (as established by the business) as a foundation for discussing issues, developing plans, aligning product line and business unit goals, and driving IT initiatives through a common voice. Most organizations have hundreds of capabilities. Once clearly defined, the capability map (along with value maps) becomes the baseline for developing roadmaps, business-IT alignment and transformation, and strategic budgeting and roadmap creation.

Establishing a capability map is a business-based activity and takes a degree of introspection most organizations tend to shy away from, but Cutter Consortium’s Capability Mapping Quick Start makes it possible for an organization to establish its capability map and move forward with planning and deploying a variety of business architecture-enabled initiatives. Specifically, creating a capability map will:

  • Establish a common vocabulary across business units and product lines
  • Remove organizational and technological complexities from issue analysis and decision making
  • Provide a holistic baseline for developing roadmaps that avoid the trappings of silo-based budgeting and deployment
  • Serve as a basis for planning and deploying priority business initiatives, including business/IT transformation efforts

For more on establishing common guiding principles, contact Cutter for a copy of The Business Capability Map: The “Rosetta Stone” of Business/IT Alignment, which I co-authored with Enterprise Architecture Practice Director Mike Rosen.


William Ulrich

William M. Ulrich is a Senior Consultant with Cutter's Business & Enterprise Architecture practice. He has advised Fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and high-tech firms on information management, legacy transformation, business architecture, business capability mapping, business continuity planning, organizational change, and partner alliances.


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