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Does Capability Equate to Process?

Capability is a measure of the capacity of an organisation to provide a product or service that fulfills an existing or envisaged need to a customer or a market.

In this sense, Capabilities are derived by bring together existing functions, data, services, products, technologies, skills, etc. to effect the delivery of the need in the form in which the “customer” demands.

Business Process could also be defined as bringing together functions, data, services, products, technologies, skills, etc. to arrive at a desired business outcome.

The first diagram below is a schematic of the Elementary Business Functions required to meet a customer or market requirement, that is, provide a Capability.

The lower diagram shows the order in which Elementary Business Functions in the Function Catalogue are carried out in order to execute a Business Process.

This graphical representation is a very strong suggestion that Capabilities are in fact business processes that meet a specified customer or Market requirement.

What do you think?



7 Responses to “Does Capability Equate to Process?”

  1. Michael Stec April 20, 2011 4:48 pm #

    If process is how a capability is executed the output from a number of processes may be needed to realize some capabilities. In orther words a capability can be the result of some combination of processes.

    • john April 21, 2011 2:16 am #

      Hi Michael

      That is correct. A capability can be achieved in an enterprise in many ways that could include (among others):

      • Output from functions or processes
      • Implementing technology
      • Gaining skills
      • Acquiring licenses

      It might even take all of the above to achieve a single capability.

      Thanks for your comment.


  2. Rob Sewell November 19, 2010 1:26 pm #


    Capability has many elements, and a dimension of size that I cannot see in business processes. Business processes must be capable of delivering the desired outcome, however how much of it can they deliver? In a manufacturing process, how many machines at what throughput rate are there to meet capacity (as in your definition of capability), How many capable, skilled staff are there, what room is there to store raw materials, what is the capability of suppliers to deliver those materials through the supply chain.

    So, whilst a process that is not capable can reduce or destroy capability, capability also exists even at the relatively invisible level of staff skills. They may have the role title of, say, lathe operator, but do they have the skills to deliver the outcome that the business needs to meet it’s order level. The process may say what the operator should do, but it is incapable of dynamically measuring the person’s actual capability to deliver. processes can be flexible, capability is dynamic. Views?

    • John Owens November 19, 2010 7:12 pm #


      Thank you for your comments. As you can see, the post title was phrased as a question.

      The points that you make are excellent. The reason I asked the question was because there is no clear definition out there of what “capability” actually is. Also, when using the term “capability”, are we referring to current actual capability, current required capability or, perhaps, future required capability?

      Perhaps what these questions make clear is that the term “capability” used on its own is quite meaningless. To have any meaning it must be qualified to in order to define precisely which “capability” is being talked about.


  3. Joe Newbert December 17, 2009 9:38 pm #

    Does Capability Equate to Process? I am not 100% aligned.

    Yes, process has a significant impact on an organisations ability to do business, but does process determine how capable an organisation is to do business? I don’t believe so.

    I suggest that a business process, and its supporting procedures, is the mechanism by which a product or service is delivered and that whilst data, skills and technologies affect a process, they are not components of the actual process itself.

    Measuring organizations Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) does exactly that, it provides indicators to identify areas of success and areas for improvement. KPIs are invariably influenced by a number of other factors (related KPIs), for example:

    • Quality of data e.g. completeness, accuracy
    • Service of supporting applications e.g. uptime, latency
    • Performance of people e.g. competency, motivation

    The above, when ‘tweaked’ will affect capability without necessarily affecting process, thus process is certainly a good place to start driving capability but it would be premature to end there!

    Thought provoking as always John!

  4. Dr. Joe K. Clema December 15, 2009 3:39 am #

    I have enjoyed your posts on Enterprise Architecture and feel that I have gotten benefit from them.


    • John Owens December 15, 2009 10:00 pm #

      Hi Joe

      Thank you. Look forward to staying in touch.


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