Basic Milky Way Intro Support Business Capabilities

The Milky Way, Business Capabilities and Support Capabilities

The way that we design the Milky Way capability maps makes the Business Capabilities supporting the overall Value Flow very visible. These Business Capabilities are, thanks to the use of the Business Geography, given a context and relation to other Business Capabilities in the value flow.

The Business Capabilities that are of a more supporting kind, like Security Management, Analytics, HR, Internal Communication, Administration, etc, are not possible to place in the Overall Value Flow since they support all or almost all Business Capabilities in the Enterprise. This means that we need to work with them in a different way.

This relation between Business Capabilities and supporting Business Capabilities is not unique for the Milky Way modeling but occurs when modelling Business Capabilities in other ways too. The supporting Business Capabilities will be refered to as Supporting Capabilies in this text.

Bus Caps and Supporting CapsThe red Business Capabilities are directly supporting the overall value flow.

The blue Business Capabilities are supporting the all other Business Capabilities.

The way the Support Capabilities are supporting the rest of the Business Capabilities is hard to visualize. We usually place supporting Business Capabilities in a specific part of the Milky Map, if they are represented.

What makes a Business Capability a Supporting Capability?

When we define Business Capabilities we run in to some that could be considered either a Business Capability part of the value flow or a supporting Capability, an example could be “Analytics”.

The Analytic Capability could be considered part of the Follow up sector of the Value Flow and therefore be placed there. But we could also argue that “Analytics” ought to be part of all Business Capabilities and therefore all Business Capabilities should have the ability to analyze their own operation so no centralized, specialized Business Capability is needed for Analytics. We would capture the need for analytics in the description and expectations of all Business Capabilities.

Yet another way of thinking is that the Analytic Capability is a support Capability serving all Business Capabilities. Even in this scenario we have choices to make in terms of how we would like the relations between the supporting capability and the business capabilities in the value flow to interact. One way of designing the relation is to say that all analytic tasks are being performed by the supporting capabilities. Another way is to design a more detailed relation stating what is managed by which capability.

Our experience is that in most cases there is a sophisticated relation between the Business Capabilities and the Support Capabilities. The relation can be formalized or managed in a more informal way.

Bring a Product Portfolio and Development to the Support Capabilities

In this article from Harvard Business Review they argue for more product development thinking in part of the organisations that have an internal and/or non product focus.

This way of thinking can, partly, be translated into a guide that helps us to make the formal or informal relationships visible and more “product/service driven”.

What is the Support Capability offering?

All Business Capabilities are offering other Business Capabilities services of different kinds. The once that are in the overall value flow and close to the Customers have a clearer view of what they are offering.

The support capabilities can make the services they offers others more visible by defining them and start to work with them in a service catalogue/portfolio way.

Base Services

The portfolio probably consists of a number of services that are fairly stable and reoccurring. These services can be defined as “Base services”. These services are offered to the rest of the organization in a way that is efficient and robust. The Base Services can be developed and improved by a close dialogue with the “Internal Customers” in the Business Capabilities using the services.

An example of a Base Service from an HR capability could be “Provide list of Recommended Recruitment agencies”, “Perform drug test of candidates”, “Draft Employment Contract for an existing position” and “Draft a Competence plan for employees”.

Add on/Emerging Services

There are probably also a number of services not so well defined and delivered in more ad hoc ways. These services are also most likely initially not offered to, but asked for by some Business Capabilities. These services can be defined as “Add on/Emerging services”.

These services are not as well defined or delivered in a standardized way since they are not as mature as the base services. These are also the services that create a lot of work and even confusion.

An example of Add on services from the HR capability could be “Hire 100 extra staff to manage extreme levels of staff on sick leave”, “Recruit or source a specific, very rare competence”,

Develope the Service portfolio and development process

If some of these add on services are starting to become reoccurring and more requests come for different areas of the organization then this is a signal that this service is a candidate to become a “Base service” to be offered in a more standardized way.

A development process identifying reoccurring addon services that can be “productified” and the stepds needed to turn them in to a base service offering can be set up to formalize this maturing of “add on” services to “base” services.

Areas of responsibilities of a Support Capability Owner

A person who is responsible for a Support Capability can have different levels of responsibilities for the wellbeing of the capability.

The overall responsibility spans from the daily operation of the capability, to maintenance, long term development of the offerings (the services offered) as well as the strategic direction of the capability driven by the overall strategies of the organization to which the capability belongs. (Inspired from the Viable System Model and the 5 sub systems of an Organisation. See )

  • Daily operation – customer servce deliveries, staffing, processes are functioning and delivering according to expected quality and lead times.
  • Long, semi long term development of the offerings – development of services based on customer needs, the development activities have a balance in terms of the time frames of the results being delivered securing a continues deliver of improved services to the customers/users. The internal business and/or IT development activities are linked to the new and existing offerings.
  • Maintenance – there are plans for maintenance and the balance between planned and unplanned maintenance activities is balanced according to the wanted levels.
  • Strategic work – a strategic direction for the Supporting Capability is developed in close dialogue with the “customers” and the overall strategy of the organization to which the capability belongs.

These areas of responsibilities are not specific for Support Capabilities. All Business Capabilities 2 need to work on these four areas to be successful over time.

[2 Using the definition of Business Capabilities we have when working with the Milky Way method; “A Business Capability is a collection of everything you need in order to perform a task, i.e. “Product Pricing”, “Customer Service”. The components of a Business Capability are business processes, information, IT systems, staff, business rules, competences, etc.”. Defined in ( )


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