Ever built a web service?  I bet you have.  And I bet, that for most readers, you thought “here’s a way that someone else can use my app,” and for most of those apps, absolutely no one does.

Perhaps you are building a web service that everyone needs and no one knows you’ve done it?  That’s one possibility.  It’s rare. 

The other possibility… more likely by far… is that you have built a web service that you need, but no one else does.  So it won’t be reused.

So how do you build a web service that everyone needs?  How do you build a truly enterprise web service?

First off, realize that this isn’t a technical question.  It’s a business question.  What services are needed by different applications and/or different organizations?  How do you know?

One solution is to use a capabilities map, like the one provided by the MS-Motion framework.  A capabilities map is a heirarchy of capabilities within your organization.  It is very similar to a process map (like those created by the six-sigma folks) but is less influenced by the odd divisions of labor in an organization and more constrained to a basic set of “stuff” that every company does.  We all have products, marketing, sales, financials, collaboration… we all have customers and suppliers.  Most of us have business partners.  It’s pretty straight forward, and honestly, it doesn’t change that much from day to day.

And that’s the beauty of the capabilities map.  If you tie the web services to a capability, you are tying it to something that doesn’t change that much… something fundamental.

Something useful.

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

2 thoughts on “Deciding what web services to build”
  1. Very interesting read. I’m currently in the process of mapping out an enterprise architecture for a small to mid size govt. organisation. Capabilities map sounds like what I should look at in order to convince the management about my offerings.

    Thanks a lot for that. I will look up some more information on MS Motion framework.

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