Developing a business capability map for the corporate IT
The usefulness of a business capability map for fact-based management decisions is undisputed. How can a business capability map for the corporate IT be created efficiently and anticipate the life cycle of systems, processes, and organisations without losing the reference to the operational level? The Enterprise Architecture Management department offered me as a working student this specific task in an effort to help them outline a new business capability map for the IT department.
IT CAPABILITY MAP
In this article, I will refer to the business capability map for IT as an IT capability map. An IT capability map provides a holistic view of resources, processes, and systems. It outlines the entire IT value chain. By mapping these capabilities between the actual “as-is” situation and future demand, organizations can best identify gaps, redundancies, and areas of improvement to align IT strategy with overall business goals. The capability map includes both technical and non-technical aspects and enables organizations to assess the current IT landscape and develop a roadmap for future improvements. It also allows organizations to easily facilitate the creation of IT blueprints by accurately elaborating on IT capabilities.
A capability . . .
. . . consists of a heading and a concise and meaningful definition. The definition must clearly showcase which tasks are to be addressed by the capability. The definition of the capability must also address two questions: 1. What impact does the capability have on the organization? 2. Can the capabilities ultimately result in overall added value?
. . . illustrates a fixed, modular, and self-contained function. It is important to note that this function can be supported by several organizational areas, therefore, a capability usually should not be mapped to individual IT departments.
The term map refers to the composition of individual capabilities as part of a uniform image that reflects the entire IT value chain in one picture. Since these capabilities are reviewed on the same level, it is important that the capabilities cover a similarly large area. It is not a matter of how many organizational areas contribute to the function of the capability, but rather what the importance of the capability is for the company.
1. Efficient use of resources: By knowing which IT capabilities are in place, organizations can optimize resource allocation to ensure investments are focused on the areas that provide the most value.
2. Agility and flexibility: With a clear understanding of IT capabilities, organizations can quickly adapt to changes in the business environment and leverage new technologies.
3. Improved decision making: By providing a holistic view of the IT landscape organizations make informed decisions regarding technology adoption, resource allocation and process improvements.
4. Identification of capability gaps: By identifying areas in which the organization lacks essential IT capabilities, it enables proactive planning for capability development, infrastructure changes, or system integrations.
PROCESS OF FINDING AND FORMULATING THE IT CAPABILITY MAP
This section includes a series of steps which describe information gathering, discussions, and working with various stakeholders to finalize the capability map. The challenge is to map every IT activity to a predefined maximum of overarching capabilities. The goal is to create a capability map in which every IT domain in the organization can be fully represented with its tasks.
I began my research gathering information on current industry trends, best practices, and available technologies related to IT capability map development. I was mainly interested in acquiring information and results from companies who had already undertaken this task and use the results as a foundation and inspiration for my own research. However, I was hardly able to find such results. A precise documentation, introduction and sample data for our organization was missing. I was able to find very general capabilities, however, these could not be used to represent the entire value chain of our overall IT. By creating this post, my intention is to offer a valuable tool and inspire the process of defining an IT capability map for organizations. The breakdown of my process looks as follows:
1. Research: Although the accumulation of my research was rather minimal, it did however help me identify a basic framework of capabilities. I documented these on a board along with all my other information, making this my hub for future developments of the capability map.
2. Identify capabilities using concrete examples: Next, I examined the value chain of a specific IT department in the company and identified capabilities using it as an example. In doing so, I quickly noticed some weaknesses in my previous map. It was also helpful to look at IT projects that are implemented across multiple departments and to consider which IT capabilities are needed to precisely implement these projects.
3. Exchange within the Enterprise Architects: I was supported in creating the map and consistently received valuable feedback and suggestions from colleagues. Here, accurate and detailed documentation is essential to reflect and incorporate all comments later in the evaluation.
4. Interviews with IT domains: After several rounds of discussions with the Enterprise Architects, it was time to acquire input from those who provide the capabilities in the company with their applications and services. I held numerous interviews with the various IT domains and gained significant insights into specific tasks and functions in the company. This step was essential, as the interviews repeatedly had the same structure, and I was able to compare and evaluate the documentation of all conversations in a uniform manner. I showed the same IT capability map to each interview partner. The interviewees identified the core and support tasks of their domain in the specific colours. In addition, all comments, questions, and assessments on the map from each conversation were documented.
5. Evaluation of the interviews: Leveraging the gathered information, I was able to formulate diverse metrics. I gained the ability to assess the number of departments which supported each capability and determine whether they viewed it as a core or support task. It was very insightful to see which capabilities are supported or even driven by a few or many IT domains. Additionally, I could explore any comments pertaining to the capabilities. This information helped pave the way in refining the capability map. After several rounds of revisions, I now had a capability map that I wanted to discuss at large.
6. Discussions with the Architecture Board: I initiated a discussion regarding the IT capability map, with a primary focus on addressing the aspects that had generated mixed responses. Upon incorporating further adjustments based on these discussions, the final capability map was finalized.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The following IT capability map is the result of the process:
First, it is important to know that the map is very specific to the current organizational picture of our IT and processes can change quickly. Such a map is just a snapshot in time. Also, the modelling of IT capabilities can vary depending on organizational needs and goals. The choice depends on the individual needs and priorities of the organization. In this section, I intend to showcase the specific details and provide contextual information regarding the selection of capabilities.
1. IT Risk Management and Compliance vs. IT Security: It can be surprising to model IT Risk Management and Compliance as well as IT Security as separate capabilities, as they are closely related and often share common goals. However, here are some reasons why in our case, this model defines them separately.
- Different focus: IT Risk Management and Compliance focus on identifying, assessing, and controlling risks associated with IT systems and processes, as well as compliance with regulations and standards. IT Security, on the other hand, is specifically concerned with protecting IT systems and data from threats, attacks, and unauthorized access.
- Specialized Skills and Knowledge: IT Risk Management and Compliance often require knowledge of risk assessment methodologies, compliance standards, and regulatory requirements. IT Security, on the other hand, requires knowledge of security measures, threat analysis, and incident response.
2. IT Infrastructure and Provider Management: We have defined IT Infrastructure and Provider Management as a capability to provide a holistic view of managing the IT infrastructure and associated service providers. This combination considers the need to effectively manage both internal IT infrastructure and external IT service providers, including the cloud, and ensure that they meet the needs of the organization. It also allows the organization to ensure that it has the necessary resources, processes, and tools to develop, implement, operate, and continuously improve its IT infrastructure. At the same time, they can ensure that outsourced IT services and providers support the organization's business objectives.
3. Collaboration Management vs. Workplace Management: Effective collaboration requires a suitable workplace in which employees can meet, communicate and work together on projects. Collaboration Management provides the technology tools and platforms to do this, while Workplace Management provides and manages the physical workplace to create an optimal work environment. The close collaboration of these two capabilities can create synergies that increase employee productivity and efficiency. However, modelling Collaboration Management and Workplace Management separately as IT capabilities allows the different aspects of these two areas to be considered and managed more effectively.
4. Demands and Consulting: The approach of this capability has already emerged as indispensable in the current IT value chain of the organization after the initial discussions with the IT departments. This might be surprising, as IT Capabilities are traditionally associated with technical aspects. However, the inclusion of Demands and Consulting as a stand-alone IT capability emphasizes the importance of business alignment and the strategic direction of the IT. It recognizes that the IT should not only provide technical solutions but can also actively contribute to achieving business goals by taking a consulting role and understanding business needs. Integrating Demands and Consulting as IT Capabilities in the enterprise demonstrates that IT does not work in isolation but works closely with the other business units to ensure optimal use of IT resources and maximize business value.
VERIFICATION AND NEXT STEPS
After consulting with the Architecture Board, the Architecture Reporting Tool has been updated to include the refined IT capability map. Consequently, it is now required to incorporate the new IT capabilities into the organization's capability landscape. There is an additional lower layer of capabilities including Firewalling, which can be linked to the IT Security capability at the upper level. Similarly, the capability Development Environment is associated with Solution Development and Engineering. I performed this mapping process for the hundred capabilities at the lower level and have also utilized the systems linked to these capabilities to enhance the architectural landscape.
As with all models, it is important to maintain the map regularly and to exam whether it reflects the current IT. Only then can all development plans be maximized to their full potential, capability gaps be visualized, and business goals be effectively analysed.
The article discusses the creation of an IT capability map, emphasizing its significance for fact-based management decisions. From the common practice of using a business capability map for IT decisions, the appropriate tools and knowledge are available and utilized throughout the company, driven by the Enterprise Architects. The IT capability map is an important tool for organizations to leverage the power of technology and drive business success. Through a comprehensive assessment and visualization of IT capabilities, organizations can make informed decisions, identify areas for improvement, and align technology investments with strategic goals. To ensure effective decision-making across departments and management levels, enterprise architects must continuously improve and update the IT capability map. By establishing these foundations, the company can unlock significant additional benefits.
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