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Emily Weissang

How to Create a Capability Map in 7 Steps

Want to assess where your business is strong, and where you need to expand and invest? A capability map can give you the strategic overview you need.

Capability maps serve many purposes, from better business definition and business value communication, to easy resource allocation and business processes improvement. They help you visualize the business - to see where it falls short, and where it stands out.

Before you get started with your business capability mapping exercise, let's walk over the fundamentals.

What is a capability map?

A business capability map is a visual representation or a diagram showing the capabilities of the business and the way they are related to each other.

It helps relevant stakeholders get a structured view of all the aspects of the business and how they come together to deliver value. As a rule, a capability map will be a multi-unit structure showing a clear hierarchy and various dependencies.

What should a capability map include?

A good capability map needs to go into detail on four things: a capability hierarchy, a capability matrix, a capability heat map, and a capability profile:

  • With a capability hierarchy, you need to illustrate how business capabilities align with overall business goals and further break into smaller units, or sub-capabilities. If you are in the business of providing professional services, one such capability could be IT services, with sub-capabilities like cybersecurity or data management, depending on the focus of the business.
  • A capability matrix helps you illustrate cross-functional dependencies and the way they play with each other.
  • A capability heat map is needed to clarify levels of importance, relevance, maturity, and performance of each capability. As with most heat maps, you need to use different color shades to illustrate the difference and gradation.
  • With a capability profile, you need to go into detail on the characteristics of all capabilities and relevant items, like stakeholders, risks, metrics, outputs, etc.

Capability map example

There are different types of capabilities you can include into the map. Most maps will only focus on the operational (core) capabilities of the business, which bring clear financial value (for example, if you want to list "product development" as a capability because it is clearly reflected in billable hours).

However, it is a good idea to list out strategic and supporting capabilities, which are more focused on the internal workings and success of the business but are not always easily linked to increasing revenue.

Here is a template for a detailed business capability map.

How to create a capability map

For better structure and long-term reliability, here are the items you need to check off the list when mapping business capabilities.

Define the purpose and scope

There are different types of business capability maps and they tend to serve different purposes. Depending on the goals of your map, you can decide on just how granular and dynamic you need it to be so it can clearly reflect your strategic objectives and challenges.

It's also important to consider who you are creating it for, who the stakeholders are and what is the type of information they would primarily want to see in your business architecture.

Identify core capabilities

Core capabilities are the items and resources that form the strategic advantages and values of your business. As the name suggests, they make the core of the business and are inherent to the existence of the company.

For recruitment agencies, it would be the talent discovery services they can provide to their customers. For management consultants, it is their expertise in business management.

When you get more granular into those core capabilities, you might need to make a skills inventory to keep track of the expertise your people bring to the table. It will also make it easier for you to do skills gap analysis and detect the core capabilities your business is missing for seamless business processes.

Runn's skills management features makes it easy to keep track of the capabilities in your organization

Identify supporting capabilities

Supporting capabilities are your back office. They do not bring direct value to the customer and are not billable, but they are crucial for the business to function properly.

Supporting capabilities can be anything from internal administration to recruitment, workforce development, and office management.

Map dependencies and relationships

Dependencies and relationships can either strengthen or weaken core business capabilities and operational efficiency of the business overall.

For instance, skills tracking might help you spot gaps in core business capabilities. If product development is one of them, yet you notice that there is no one on your teams who can analyze product success and check it for quality errors, that might undermine one of your core business capabilities.

However, this risk can be avoided with efficient skills management.

Assess current capabilities

Assessing what is available and what is still missing will help you create a strong business strategy, aimed at providing customers with an all-in experience.

It can also help you outline the competitive advantage of the business and take sufficient time for strategic planning on where you need to go to scale the company.

Visualize the capability map

Most capability maps have a simple block-like structure that segments capabilities based on their role and relevance, like core or supporting. It also lists out all the relevant items that go into each capability.

In the end, visualization is about bringing all the relevant data in one place and above all, it needs to be easy to understand.

Use, maintain, and refine the capability map

Organizational capabilities are dynamic and can change over time. This is why it is crucial to revisit the capability map and see whether all the information is still relevant and supports current business goals.

Get clear on your strengths and weaknesses

Capabilities and the way they support and enable each other are a unique part of what defines your business. By taking the time to map these out and reflect on them, you can get a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses, helping you to make strategic decisions to sure-up what you already have and invest in what you don't.

For an easier way to understand the vital knowledge and skills that make up the capabilities of your business, look no further than Runn. Runn makes tracking skills and competencies outrageously simple.

Never again waste time wondering whether there's someone in your organization already who has experience running "X", or a certificate in "Y". Instead, get an instant answer, with a complete skills database at your fingertips.

Learn more about tracking skills in Runn ➡️

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