July 28, 2010, 3:27 PM — As CIOs strive to evolve IT from a Solid Utility or Trusted Supplier to a fully integrated business partner, they need the ability to describe IT functions in business terms. Business-IT alignment will only occur when both parties develop a common understanding of what's important to the business, how this relates to the business model and the supporting technology, and where to prioritize investments for measurable improvements. Business capability maps provide a framework to capture, assess, and communicate these needs. These maps put technology strategies such as SOA and application consolidation in the context of the business process, functions, and capabilities they affect, as well as help enterprise architects (EA) design application and information architecture.
Capability maps are quickly becoming the core component of business architecture initiatives, however, there are no industry standard models or frameworks to guide architects in their development. Enterprise architects who embark on developing and using a capability map frequently have questions as where to start and what to include in this map. Fortunately, Forrester has talked with dozens of consulting companies and business architects about how they construct and use capability maps. From these discussions, we have developed a six-step process that provides the foundation to successfully build and apply capability maps.
Step 1: Identify the Business-IT Alignment Issues
Interview stakeholders individually to get as many perspectives as possible. Start with IT stakeholders and use the results of those interviews to refine the interview process before moving on to the business stakeholders. Later, analyze the interview data for response patterns and themes that would indicate common problem areas. Validate these findings with stakeholders to ensure that the identified problems accurately reflect their concerns and interests.
Step 2: Define Your Approach
Create a current-state view that is a composite of the issues defined in step 1, as well as a future-state composite view that describes how business and IT interactions will look after implementing a capability map approach. Then use the current and future-state views to map alignment issues to solution options and focus on the issues that can be best resolved or significantly improved using a capability map approach to guide decision-making. In addition, you'll need to carefully select the roles needed to make the initiative successful and identify all resources, including internal and external consultants.
Step 3: Develop the Business Case