This is the 2nd in a multi-part post on assessing IT Capabilities. (See Part 1)
A Quick Recap
Part 1 introduced some assessment principles I’ve found to be important.
- The Process is more important than the results. I’ve found facilitated self-assessments to be the most effective.
- The results must be actionable. An assessment must give you insight into what needs to be improved, with what urgency and in what sequence.
- The results must be multi-dimensional. For example, address performance, value delivered and health of a given capability.
- Process-based assessments only go so far – and may in fact be misleading! Not all IT Capabilities are process-based. Some depend more on standardization of deliverables or the outputs produced by a capability, and some depend more on special skills and training. Concluding that a given Capability might be highly mature or highly immature might have nothing to do with its ability to deliver excellent results!
There are several aspects to defining Capabilities:
- What is meant by “IT Capability”?
- What is the potential landscape of IT Capabilities?
- How do you know what IT Capabilities you need?
Let’s examine these in turn.
What is Meant by “Capability”?
Wikipedia defines Capability as:
The ability to perform actions. As it applies to human capital, capability is the sum of expertise and capacity.”
A couple of things to note about IT Capabilities:
- While Capability Maturity Models such as CMMI put processes as the central construct of a capability (and the key to capability maturity assessment), in practice not all IT Capabilities are inherently process-centric. Some depend more on people’s skills and competencies (think Business Relationship Manager, for example) while others depend more on deliverables than they do on specific processes. (For a more detailed treatment of this distinction, see Part 1 in this series or my earlier posts on Henry Mintzberg‘s seminal work on organizational constructs.)
- You don’t need to “own” any given IT Capability – you can “rent” it as in outsourcing or contracting, for example.
- Not all IT Capabilities exist in an IT (or IS) organization. Some are embedded in business units or other organizations. For example, the capability to chose, procure and maintain personal computing devices may belong to the business – think “Bring Your Own Device” or “BYOD” as this rapidly growing movement is often referred to.
What is the Potential Landscape of IT Capabilities?
I’ve covered this topic in some depth previously in my posts on IT Organizational Clarity, but as a quick recap, below is a normative, high-level IT Capability Model.