Depending on the level of maturity of your Business Architecture practice, there are many different methods to measure the maturity of a business capability.  In fact, the method that you use for measurement will depend entirely on your own level of BA maturity.  The better supported your BA program is, the more accurate you will be in measuring the maturity of the business capabilities in question.

Why measure business capability maturity

For those readers who don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a primer.

In order to insure alignment, Business Architects will take the strategies of the business and analyze them.  They will create measurable goals out of those strategy statements in order to determine the relative value of each, and then map those goals to a standard taxonomy of capabilities.  That tells you which capabilities are needed.  It doesn’t tell you where investment is needed. 

The reality is that you can’t invest in everything, nor should you.  You should invest in capabilities that are needed by the strategy but which are the weakest.  An improvement in a weak capability can make a strategy possible. 

So how do you know which capabilities are the weakest?  You measure the maturity of those business capabilities. 

Methods of Measurement

As I mentioned before, there are different for measuring the maturity of a business capability.  Which method you use depends on the level of trust and engagement that your business architecture program has. 

  Maturity Level 1 Maturity Level 2 Maturity Level 3 Maturity Level 4
Level of Business Engagement Business contacts do not buy in to the value of business architecture, or BAs have no direct business contacts Business contacts are willing to work with a BA, but don’t want to spend any effort to make their BA successful Business contacts collaborate with Business Architecture to assist with the chartering of initiatives. Business contacts rely on Business Architecture to assess influencers, review the model, and create new strategies.
Source of information Observation of the behavior of the business.  Look at the initiatives that they charter as an indication of strategy, and importance. Business contacts share their strategy memos and actively work to review, refine, and leverage the goals. Business takes feedback about how well their investments align. Business Architects are included in conversations about business opportunities and are consulted in the formation of business initiatives to meet strategic goals. Business Architects are engaged in customer contacts and business assessments.  They work with senior executives to create strategies based on business model capability alignment.
Method of Measurement Indirect or occasional interviews of business stakeholders to survey the perceived importance and maturity of some capabilities.  Direct interviews with business stakeholders asking about the capabilities that are mapped to strategy.  Subjective survey of performance, maturity, and importance.  Importance is determined by the relative value of the goals that a capability is mapped to.  Performance is determined by metrics.  Maturity reflects measures of underlying tools, processes, information and role clarity. Additional attributes of measurement are added to illustrate the level of alignment to specific business models and the relative value of each model to the present goals and vision of the enterprise.
Flaws that will drive you to the next level Very sparse information gathering, no goal maps, capability heat maps are tentative at best.  Not worth sharing. Interviews are useful, but subjective.  The relative importance of different capabilities cannot be determined using this method. Limited set of measures, and doesn’t reflect the merit of a capability with respect to the business models that may most directly reflect the enterprise’s future.  



Look across the “source of information” and “Method of Measurement” rows, and see if you can find the method that you currently use to measure the maturity of your capabilities.  That is the best indicator of the level of maturity that you are at.  Look at the column describing that level of maturity.  Now, look to the right and see if you can discern the changes that you would need to make in the maturity of your BA practice in order to move to the next level of Business Architecture maturity.

The method that you use to measure the maturity of business capabilities is directly reflective of the maturity of your own business architecture practice.  It is necessary to make the move to the next level of maturity in measurement if you wish to move to the next level of BA practice maturity.

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".

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