What is Capability-Based Planning?

By Jibility co-founder Chuen Seet


In a business context, capability-based planning is an approach that ensures that changes in an organization are aligned to the overarching strategic vision.

The approach has its origins defense and military planning by the likes of the US, UK, Australia and Canada. More recently, it has become popular in the business domain, particularly for developing systems and IT-related strategies.

The overall theory is that those organizations with superior capability to execute strategy will win – whether they are the armed forces or a business.

Whilst capability-based planning has long been the tool of trade for military planners and strategists, consultants and enterprise architects, it hasn’t yet been widely understood or adopted in the broader community.

Capability-based planning has become popular in the business domain

What is a Capability?


A capability describes what the business does and should not be confused with just the skills or competencies of the people (which the HR function also refers to as a capability).

So, a business capability is described by more than just the people perspective; it includes the process and physical perspective. In other words, a business capability can describe the processes involved, the physical objects used, and the people roles and skills required as well.

For example: a software development capability would encompass not just the developers (people), but processes such as Agile methodology, and physical assets such as software tools and hardware.

What is a capability?

How does Capability-Based Planning Work?


Supported by a collection of techniques (e.g. capability mapping), capability-based planning will enable an organization to:

  • Identify its capabilities
  • Assess the level of change required to each capability
  • Prioritize the changes required
  • Develop a plan for making the changes

Typically, capabilities identified as requiring change should be linked to the organization’s strategic goals or objectives. Focusing on these capabilities helps the organization to stay on track as it works to execute the strategy.


How does capability-based planning work?

Seven Reasons Why Capability-Based Planning is Effective


 
Break through departmental silos

It’s a top-down, whole-of-organization approach. It breaks through departmental silos by shifting from a functional view to a capability view.


 
Focus on what needs to be done

It focuses directly on what an organization needs to do to execute its strategy.


 
Create a comprehensive capability map

It provides a map of the organization’s overall capabilities to ensure nothing is missed.


 
Link initiatives to capabilities to objectives

It directly links initiatives and projects back to capability changes and, in turn, back to the organization’s objectives. No more random initiatives that seemed like a good idea at the time, but in hindsight don’t actually align to your strategy.


 
Determine priorities

It cuts the wheat from the chaff. It helps you determine the highest priority capabilities that you need to develop, and related initiatives that you should focus on. It clarifies and optimizes business investment.


 
Don't jump to conclusions

It stops you from jumping to conclusions about solutions too early. By delaying solution definition and doing it in the context of capabilities, it opens you up to alternatives rather than simply incrementing existing deployed equipment, processes and people.


 
A systematic approach

It provides a systematic way of identifying change initiatives. Many business planning approaches define mission, goals and objectives, and then start spawning initiatives and projects. By looking at what capabilities are required to meet your objectives, it provides clarity for your initiatives.


Further Reading….

Capability-based planning is embodied in industry frameworks such as The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF®) which is used extensively for planning information technology strategy and architecture.

The Business Architecture Guild® has developed an excellent in-depth guide to capability mapping and related business and IT architecture disciplines called A Guide to the Business Architecture Body of Knowledge® (BIZBOK®).

Both TOGAF® and BIZBOK® Guide are well worth a read if you want to immerse yourself in the details of capability-based planning.

Capability-based planning and industry frameworks


Capability-based planning and Jibility

An Easy Way into Capability-Based Planning…


Jibility is an app which enables you to easily apply capability-based planning techniques as you develop a strategy roadmap; the essential link between a strategy and execution.

Jibility is a cloud-based drag-and-drop tool, which provides the user with pre-defined building blocks for more agile delivery and maintenance of strategy roadmaps. Most importantly, it’s simple to use.

Sign up for Jibility


The Jibility App is a dedicated visual tool with pre-defined building blocks to assist you in building strategy roadmaps fast. Sign up for a free trial and see for yourself.

Jibility App

Sign up for Jibility


The Jibility App is a dedicated visual tool with pre-defined building blocks to assist you in building strategy roadmaps fast. Sign up for a free trial and see for yourself.


Download our free book


Jibility: Strategy Roadmaps Made Simple is your essential guide to the concepts, methods and techniques behind strategy roadmaps. Complete with lively case studies and examples, the book is an easy, engaging read – and best of all, it’s free.

Jibility Book

Download our free book


Jibility: Strategy Roadmaps Made Simple is your essential guide to the concepts, methods and techniques behind strategy roadmaps. Complete with lively case studies and examples, the book is an easy, engaging read – and best of all, it’s free.


Download our free strategy roadmap canvas


The Jibility Canvas is a template designed for creating simple strategy roadmaps by following six steps. The Jibility Canvas is free and available to download now.

Jibility Canvas

Download our free strategy roadmap canvas


The Jibility Canvas is a template designed for creating simple strategy roadmaps by following six steps. The Jibility Canvas is free and available to download now.