Business Capability Modeling

Business capability modeling is a technique for the representation of an organization’s business anchor model, independent of the organization’s structure, processes, people or domains.[1]

In other words, business capability modeling is graphically representing the abilities of the company, as well as its potential. When business architects and analysts engage in business capability modeling, their work results in the creation of a capability model. This forms the core of business capability mapping, which enables adaptive, sleek architectures that can respond quickly to changes in today's competitive business landscape. The first stage of the mapping process is identifying the highest-level capabilities of the business. Typically, these are oriented towards the operational side. After they’re all documented you can start decomposing these top-level capabilities into lower-level capabilities. At this point you may choose to create an exhaustive model and keep every single sub-capability. Alternatively, you could discard all but the ones most relevant to the achievement of business goals. This doesn’t automatically entail negative consequences. Keeping your eyes on the whole business landscape is laudable during this process but capabilities that aren’t critical may safely be omitted during the mapping process. This of course also depends to a large degree on the timeframe of the project and the number of allotted personnel. Once you have an agreed upon capability model, you and your team should start listing attributes for each individual capability and service level expectation. These may differ from company to company, but usually what you’ll be looking at are things such as performance requirements, capability owner, customers, inputs and outputs, as well as general information on the elements that compose it – people, processes, and technology. All this knowledge captured as part of the business architecture will later help you derive the exact requirements for the IT infrastructure. The goal of this practice is to model the business around its most stable elements. This is because although the way in which a company powers its abilities may change dramatically with time (the How), the actual abilities are usually unfluctuating even on long time scales (the What). For instance, it’s very plausible for a manufacturing company to have had a capability called Deliver Product for the past century. The way in which this capability might have been fulfilled throughout the years however will have varied immensely (i.e. horse-drawn carriage, train, truck etc.). The main benefit of having a model based on the most resilient elements of the business is its longevity. Changes to how capabilities are implemented don’t necessarily alter the base model. What’s more, with a stable business model the IT infrastructure of the enterprise is more likely to actually support the business instead of constantly showing up as an ongoing cost. Consequently, business capability mapping promotes a strong connection between the business model and the infrastructure supporting the business requirements. This also means that when professionals model business capabilities they are helping to bring together business and IT figures. As part of your business transformation effort you will undoubtedly need to engage in business capability mapping. So, in esence, modeling business capabilities is about defining your organization’s ability to execute.[2]

See Also

  • Enterprise Architecture (EA): Discussing the comprehensive framework used to manage and align an organization's IT assets, people, operations, and projects with its overall strategy.
  • Strategic Planning: Covering the process by which an organization defines its strategy and makes decisions on allocating resources to pursue this strategy.
  • Business Process Modeling (BPM): Exploring the activity of representing the processes of an enterprise in a structured manner for analysis and improvement.
  • Capability Maturity Model (CMM): Discussing a framework for assessing the maturity of an organization's processes and capabilities.
  • Value Stream Mapping: Covering the lean-management method for analyzing the current state and designing a future state for the series of events that take a product or service from its beginning through to the customer.
  • IT Service Management (ITSM): Discussing how ITSM aligns the delivery of IT services with the needs of the business, often involving capability modeling.
  • Gap Analysis: Exploring the process of comparing actual performance with potential or desired performance to identify areas for improvement.
  • Business Transformation: Covering the strategies and activities involved in making fundamental changes to how business is conducted to help cope with shifts in the market environment.
  • Balanced Scorecard: Discussing the performance measurement framework that adds strategic non-financial performance measures to traditional financial metrics to give managers a more 'balanced' view of organizational performance.
  • Requirements Engineering: Exploring the process of defining, documenting, and maintaining requirements in the engineering design process, which often includes identifying business capabilities.


  1. Definition: What does Business Capability Modeling Mean? Gartner
  2. Explaining Business Capability Modeling ObusSoftware