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The IF4IT Enterprise Capability Model


Enterprise Capability Model Summary

Abstract:

This document introduces readers to and acts as a reference for the International Foundation for Information Technology (IF4IT) Enterprise Capability Model (ECM). The IF4IT ECM is a Knowledge Management Tool that helps collect, organize, and communicate information about an enterprise (any enterprise). It, more specifically, helps IT Professionals and their Stakeholders with identifying, planning for, designing, delivering, supporting, socializing, and better understanding enterprises, how they operate, why they operate the way they do, and the solutions (both technical and non-technical) that are delivered and supported in order to enable and operate them.



Table of Contents

Introduction to the IF4IT Enterprise Capability Model (ECM)
Using the IF4IT Enterprise Capability Modeling Framework With This Model
Purpose of the IF4IT Enterprise Capability Model
The Seven Key Categorizations for Enterprise Capabilities
Pictoral Views of the IF4IT Enterprise Capability Model
ECM Model Root
ECM Category 1: Stakeholder Capabilities and Solutions
ECM Category 2: Externally Aligned Business Capabilities and Solutions
ECM Category 3: Internally Aligned Business Capabilities and Solutions
ECM Category 4: Business Applications, Systems, and Software Development Capabilities & Solutions
ECM Category 5: Information Technology (IT) Software Infrastructure Capabilities & Solutions
ECM Category 6: Information Technology (IT) Hardware Infrastructure Capabilities & Solutions
ECM Category 7: Administrative, Delivery, and Logistics Capabilities & Solutions
The IF4IT Hierarchical Taxonomy of Enterprise Capabilities
Customizing the Model for Your Enterprise
Learn More


Introduction to the IF4IT Enterprise Capability Model (ECM)

Welcome to the International Foundation for Information Technology (IF4IT) Enterprise Capability Model (ECM), also referred to as the IF4IT ECM. This document exists to...

  1. Introduce the reader to the IF4IT ECM; what it is, how enterprises use it, and the different aspects and issues associated with creating, delivering, and supporting such models, and
  2. Act as a reference for the IF4IT ECM, itself, which can be used by the reader to help model, deliver solutions for, and support his or her own enterprise(s).

If you are unfamiliar with any of the topics, herein, the Foundation recommends some prereading...

The Foundation recommends that readers use the IF4IT Enterprise Capability Modeling Framework in conjunction with this document, as the two are highly related. In addition to understanding how to create, deliver and support an Enterprise Capability Model, the IF4IT Enterprise Capability Modeling Framework helps readers understand the many uses and benefits of Enterprise Capability Models like the IF4IT ECM.

Disclaimer: The IF4IT EMC, like any other model, is not perfect. There are many different models and model representations that may work for you and your enterprise. While the reader is welcome to use the IF4IT ECM, subject to the terms of the Foundation's Master Agreement, the Foundation recommends that the reader take the time to evaluate and understand the multiple options and solutions available to him or her, before selecting or creating any one model to work with.


Capability Summary

Using the IF4IT Enterprise Capability Modeling Framework With This Model

This document was generated by using and is closely coupled with the The IF4IT Capability Modeling Framework (or what is commonly referred to as the IF4IT-CMF).

The Capability Modeling Framework represents a common set of language constructs, patterns and methodogologies for getting to Enterprise Capabilities, such as Business Capabilities, Information Technology (IT) Capabilities, or otherwise.

Such Frameworks are used by Architects and Designers to help identify, design, deliver, and transform Capabilities, as well as to ensure reusability and conformance with Industry Standards, Best Practices, and Guidelines.

This document will regularly refer back to the IF4IT-CMF in order to help the reader with topics discussed, herein.


Purpose of the IF4IT Enterprise Capability Model

Aside from the many justifications and benefits mentioned in the The IF4IT Enterprise Capability Modeling Framework for a general ECM, the IF4IT ECM is intended to act as:

  1. a baseline for enterprise learning, and
  2. a baseline for faster, more complete, and more cost effective enterprise solutions delivery.

The IF4IT ECM allows enterprises and the individuals within them to more efficiently and more effectively:


The Seven Key Categorizations for Enterprise Capabilities

The IF4IT ECM groups Enterprise Capabilities into the following seven (7) categorical areas...

  1. Stakeholder Capabilities and Solutions
  2. Externally Aligned Business Capabilities and Solutions
  3. Internally Aligned Business Capabilities and Solutions
  4. Business Applications, Systems, and Software Development Capabilities & Solutions
  5. Information Technology (IT) Software Infrastructure Capabilities & Solutions
  6. Information Technology (IT) Hardware Infrastructure Capabilities & Solutions
  7. Administrative, Delivery, and Logistics Capabilities & Solutions

After years of working with multiple high level categorizations and many different Capability Model representations, the Foundation chose the above categorical areas to group Capabilities because they seem to appear frequently, with similar naming, when modeling different enterprises.

While it can be argued that multiple different categorizations can be used, the Foundation has found that the IF4IT ECM categorizations represent the most common and complete pattern, seen to date. While you feel that defining your own Enterprise Capability Categorizations may work best for you, keep in mind that it may take you many months of negotiations with your stakeholders, who will almost always argue to get their own way. The benefit of using an existing model, such as the Foundations ECM, allows you to blame the structure on an industry best practices organization and move on to more important modeling matters, like filling in the details for each area.

The above seven categorizations will be represented, throughout this document, using multiple formats for the benefit of the reader. The three most common formats used will be: what is known as a Denormalized Path-based Text Form or Format. Such a form or format looks like the following:

1. Images of Cascading Components (i.e. Cascading Component Based View), which are colorful but start to degrade as models get detailed because the representation of child nodes gets smaller with more and more children:

Cascading Component View

2. Denormalized Path-based Text Form (a.k.a. Path Based Form), which can be very thorough and is often very useful for programmatic or systematic solutions using computers:

3. Normalized Indented Text-based Form (a.k.a. Intented Text Form), which is a nice easy format for humans to read:

Using such a representations helps readers quickly identify Parent/Child relationships through different views of the model data.


Pictoral Views of the IF4IT Enterprise Capability Model

The following figure represents a high level summary of the seven (7) key areas of the IF4IT ECM:

Enterprise Capability Model Summary

The above figure acts as a visual means of grouping or compartmentalization for Enterprise Capabilities. Like Capabilities will be grouped into each area, according to perceived commonalities, so as to give context to each group. If you intend to build your own model, there are many ways to group or compartmentalize your Capabilities. If you choose to create your own groupings, the Foundation recommends that you work with your Enterprise Stakeholders to find groupings that make the most sense for you and your enterprise.

The following figure represents a structuring of Enterprise Capabilities, according to the seven (7) highest level key areas or categories of the IF4IT ECM:

Enterprise Capability Model

This representation only shows Parent/Child relationship groupings that go down no more than a few levels of hierarchy. This is because Component Models like this one, while nice for visual structuring and context, functionally start to break down as modelers add more and more levels of hierarchical depth.

The above diagram can best be read if the reader zooms in or if it is printed to its full size using a large scale plotter. However, if more levels of depth were added to this visual representation, even a plotter would have a difficult time printing such large views. Eventually all Component-like models, nested, cascading, or otherwise will start to break down.

NOTE: The above Component-based visualizations will be used throughout this document to help with further instruction.


ECM Model Root

While defining a model's root, anchor, or origin is usually most important when feeding and maintaining the model in a Software System or Application, it's important for us to at least talk about it so that readers understand what we mean by a Model Root or Model Anchor or a Model Origin (all are equivalent and interchangeable and we will use all three forms, throughout this document, to keep the reader aware).

The concept of origin is simple. It basically implies that all things originate from one place. And, given that all things originate from one place, a person or a system should be able to trace the lineage of any child back through all parental lineage(s), to it's original root point (or point of origin).

The IF4IT ECM uses a root that we refer to as "Enterprise Management." Using a Denormalized Path-based Textual Form (a.k.a. Path Form), such a root can be conveyed as:

From this root, we can derive child categories that lead us in different directions, throughout the model and, ultimately, throughout the enterprise (which is what makes an appropriately designed ECM good for Enterprise Knowledge Management).

Using our Model Root and the seven (7) key ECM categorical areas, we can represent the IF4IT ECM Model Root, using Indented Text Based Form, in the following manner:

The Path Based Form would be represented as follows:

As is the case with any view, it is impossible to achieve perfection and, therefore, both of the above representations are neither completely right or completely wrong. It is important to simply pick a representation or set of representations and move on, doing your best to make your model as complete as you feel might be necessary to meet the needs of your own enterprise.

NOTE: It is important to understand that in a complex model, such as a highly mature and evolved ECM, child nodes (also referred to herein as children) will often show up under more than one parent, and it is not uncommon for a child node to have more than two parents.

Also, as you present your model (or the Foundation's model) to others, you will undoubtedly encounter arguments as to what child belongs under what parent. The important thing is to ensure that the date is represented somewhere and that it is consistent. You can always appeal to your argumentative peers by having children appear under multiple parents (the one you believe a child should be under and the one your argumentative counterpart believes the child should be under). Often, both will be right. The biggest problem will come from using tools that constrain you to things like "Single Parent Models", which almost always break down as your model becomes complicated and mature. An example of this is when you try to capture and represent your entire model in a spread sheet, which is usually very poor for capturing relationships.

Again, the benefit of such an a rigid approach is to provide consistency, especially when the intent is to use the model to seed Information Technology (IT) Systems that are used by many people. Systems do not handle ambiguity well and, therefore, it becomes important to put the model together in such a manner so as to allow systems to easily use and manipulate the data associated with it.

If you haven't noticed it, yet, the benefit of using a Path Form is that it generates an instant hierarchical taxonomy of Enterprise Disciplines or Enterprise Capabilities. Such taxonomies are very powerful for use as backbones to Enterprise Intranets, Enterprise Service Catalogs, Document Management Systems, and much more.


ECM Category 1: Stakeholder Capabilities and Solutions

This Capability Category focuses on the Stakeholders that are typically considered important to most enterprises.

The IF4IT ECM identifies the following Stakeholders as being important to represent in its model:

NOTE: This list of Stakeholders is a common and basic list that the Foundation has found to be relevant to most enterprises. Should you disagree with this list or its representation, you can always modify the model as you see fit, for your own use. However, when you modify the model, keep in mind that you put yourself on the critical path for maintaining it for your enterprise, which defeats the purpose of leveraging best practices and reusable solutions.

The Indented Text Form of these Capabilities that further categorizes Stakeholders into Internal Stakeholders vs. External Stakeholders can be represented as follows:

The systematic Path Form of the above would be represented as follows:


ECM Category 2: Externally Aligned Business Capabilities and Solutions

This Capability Category focuses on the Business functions or capabilities that are usually associated as being external to an enterprise.

The IF4IT ECM identifies the following external Business entities as being important for representation in its model:

NOTE: This list of externally related Business entities is a common and basic list that the Foundation has found to be relevant to most enterprises. Should you disagree with this list or its representation, you can always modify the model as you see fit, for your own use. However, when you modify the model, keep in mind that you put yourself on the critical path for maintaining it for your enterprise, which defeats the purpose of leveraging best practices and reusable solutions.

Assuming the following root or origin paths...

The systematic Path Form of the above entities would be represented as follows:


ECM Category 3: Internally Aligned Business Capabilities and Solutions

This Capability Category focuses on the Business functions or capabilities that are usually associated as being internal to an enterprise.

The IF4IT ECM identifies the following internal Business entities as being important for representation in its model:

NOTE: This list of internally related Business entities is a common and basic list that the Foundation has found to be relevant to most enterprises. Should you disagree with this list or its representation, you can always modify the model as you see fit, for your own use. However, when you modify the model, keep in mind that you put yourself on the critical path for maintaining it for your enterprise, which defeats the purpose of leveraging best practices and reusable solutions.

Assuming the following root or origin paths...

The systematic Path Form of the above entities would be represented as follows:


ECM Category 4: Business Applications, Systems, and Software Development Capabilities & Solutions

This Capability Category focuses on the functions or capabilities that are associated with the various types of Software Applications and Systems an enterprise uses, delivers and/or supports.

The IF4IT ECM identifies the following Application related entities as being important for representation in its model:

NOTE: This list of related System and Application entities is a common and basic list that the Foundation has found to be relevant to most enterprises. Should you disagree with this list or its representation, you can always modify the model as you see fit, for your own use. However, when you modify the model, keep in mind that you put yourself on the critical path for maintaining it for your enterprise, which defeats the purpose of leveraging best practices and reusable solutions.

Assuming the following root or origin paths...

The Indented Text Form of these Capabilities would look like the following:

The systematic Path Form of the above entities would be represented as follows:


ECM Category 5: Information Technology (IT) Software Infrastructure Capabilities & Solutions

This Capability Category focuses on the functions or capabilities that are associated with the various types of Software Infrastructure that an enterprise uses, delivers and/or supports.

The IF4IT ECM identifies the following Software Infrastructure related entities as being important for representation in its model:

NOTE: This list of related Software Infrastructure entities is a common and basic list that the Foundation has found to be relevant to most enterprises. Should you disagree with this list or its representation, you can always modify the model as you see fit, for your own use. However, when you modify the model, keep in mind that you put yourself on the critical path for maintaining it for your enterprise, which defeats the purpose of leveraging best practices and reusable solutions.

Assuming the following root or origin paths...

The Indented Text Form of these Capabilities would look like the following:

The systematic Path Form of the above entities would be represented as follows:


ECM Category 6: Information Technology (IT) Hardware Infrastructure Capabilities & Solutions

This Capability Category focuses on the functions or capabilities that are associated with the various types of Hardware Infrastructure that an enterprise uses, delivers and/or supports.

The IF4IT ECM identifies the following Hardware Infrastructure related entities as being important for representation in its model:

NOTE: This list of related Hardware Infrastructure entities is a common and basic list that the Foundation has found to be relevant to most enterprises. Should you disagree with this list or its representation, you can always modify the model as you see fit, for your own use. However, when you modify the model, keep in mind that you put yourself on the critical path for maintaining it for your enterprise, which defeats the purpose of leveraging best practices and reusable solutions.

Assuming the following root or origin paths...

The Indented Text Form of these Capabilities would look like the following:

The systematic Path Form of the above entities would be represented as follows:


ECM Category 7: Administrative, Delivery, and Logistics Capabilities & Solutions

This Capability Category focuses on the functions or capabilities that cut across or are present in all other capabilities that have been identified in previous sections of the model. These are complex capabilities to model (especially in third party modeling tools) because they are consisdered to exist in many places, simultaneously, making it difficult to thoroughly add and maintain them to such models.

When designing the IF4IT Enterprise Capability Model, the Foundation made a decision to extract them from the previous areas of the model, and highlight them seperately, because of their importance.

The IF4IT ECM identifies the following entities as being important for representation in this section of the model:

NOTE: This list of related entities is a common and basic list that the Foundation has found to be relevant to most enterprises. Should you disagree with this list or its representation, you can always modify the model as you see fit, for your own use. However, when you modify the model, keep in mind that you put yourself on the critical path for maintaining it for your enterprise, which defeats the purpose of leveraging best practices and reusable solutions.

Assuming the following root or origin paths...

The Indented Text Form of these Capabilities would look like the following:


The IF4IT Hierarchical Taxonomy of Enterprise Capabilities


Customizing the Model for Your Enterprise

Customizing or extending the model to meet the needs of your own enterprise might be something to consider. While the Foundation's model is a good place to start, we acknowledge that it may not contain everything your enterprise will care about or that its hierarchical representation may not be something your enterprise will agree with. However, it's always important to consider that a having a starting point is always better than building things, from the ground up. With this being said, the Foundation sees three ways that you may want to customize our ECM:

  1. You may want to add, append, or insernt new nodes into the existing hierarchy. This is especially common when you start to enrich the model with industry specific Capabilities, such as those for Health Care, Pharmaceuticals, Automotive, Government, Education, etc.
  2. You may want to delete existing nodes, as your enterprise might not need or want some of the Capabilities that the IF4IT has put in its model, or you may want to address them at a later time..
  3. You may want to reorder the IF4IT ECM hierarchy to help match cultures and contexts within your own enterprise.

While all of the above are viable, the Foundation recommends that you leverage as much as possible from the existing model in order to avoid wasting time on the creation and logistics of managing your model and so that you can spend more time on the operationalization and utilization of the model, to gain and experience the real benefits for your enterprise.


Learn More

IT Learning Framework
Discipline: Capability Management
Capability Modeling Framework

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