I've blogged in the past about the value of standards. I also have seen many efforts to create taxonomies: a standardized breakdown of some general area, down to specifics. One that is popular with the Microsoft Enterprise Architecture team is the MS Motion Taxonomy, which is a breakdown of business capabilities created as part of Microsoft Dynamics.
A capability is a 'container that holds people, processes, and tools needed to solve a specific business problem.' For example, the business may have the capability of paying outstanding invoices in the financial area. In Contoso, that may mean that a person runs a month-end report showing the list of payables, prints individual checks, prints labels, and then spends some time 'envelope stuffing,' and lastly updates the financial system to reflect their work. In IBuySpy, that may mean a highly automated daily process. For IBuySpy, perhaps some invoices can be payed electronically through EFT, so the tools select and transmit those transaction. For those vendors that require actual checks to be printed and mailed, the tools will electronically compile and transmit a batch to a check printing and paying service.
The processes were different. The tools were different. But the business capability is the same.
That's the value of a taxonomy of business capabilities. Note that capabilities are not processes. The process for 'Procure Office Supplies' can be substantially different from 'Procure Raw Materials' for some very good reasons. These processes will USE specific capabilities from the business, like the ability to negotiate contract terms, and tools like an procurement intranet site for corporate employees to purchase their office supplies. However, these high-level processes will share the need for the capability of 'pay outstanding invoices.'
We are working on the next level beyond these business capabilities at the moment within EA, and I will blog about that later. For now, I wanted to introduce the notion of Motion.