A few weeks ago, in a blog post, I asked about the relationship between business process modeling and business capability modeling. I asked some open ended questions to get honest feedback. I presented two models to illustrate two potential relationships between capabilities and processes. I called them “Model A” and “Model B.”
So when doing a little research on the Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework, I got a good feel for how the OMB has attempted to solve this problem.
Answer: The FEA uses “Model A.” My analysis showed that the FEA notion of a “Business Area” and “Line of Business” describes the same thing as the notion of “Business Capability” in a business capability framework. I also noted that, in the FEA, processes exist under the capabilities. There is no notion, in the framework itself, of processes that tie together capabilities across functional boundaries.
I find this curious, because there is clearly INTENT to create and understand cross-functional processes. Looking at some of the presentations made to various conferences, it certainly appears to be the goal to create an optimized structure for the improvement of cross-functional processes… yet there is nothing in the framework for it.
Studying the FEA, I noticed something else interesting. In the FEA, business processes live at the intersection of the agency and the capability (or sub-function, as the FEA calls it). In other words, if two agencies share a capability (say “loan guarantees”), then each agency will implement that capability using their own processes.
The FEA taxonomy has nothing to say about alignment or reuse at the process level. While processes show up in mappings to technology, they don’t show up in the framework.
Without a process taxonomy, there is no mechanism to align processes, or find common elements even further down the list, at the activity level. This is key, because in an ideal state, Enterprise SOA services support business process activities, and can be composed from there into support for processes themselves. Without the activity level, the FEA cannot simplify beyond EAI levels, where entire applications were rationalized.
So my suggestion, to my hard-working colleagues who work on the FEA, is to include and make useful a business process hierarchy, separate from the functional (capability) hierarchy that the FEA now describes, and fill out the process activity element that sits at the join (junction) between an organization and the sub function (capability).