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What Is Capability Mapping?

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning

Capability mapping is the process of outlining what abilities a business has to achieve its goals. It can include examination of technology, human resources and how work is approached. Each capability is analyzed for its ability to move the business forward. This process is a way to understand what resources the business possesses, how well it uses them and what improvements are needed to make the organization successful.

The overall function of capability mapping is to define what the business is able to do, rather than how it does it. How this information is organized depends on the size and complexity of the organization. In a large company, a major capability might consist of several additional sub-capabilities.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

When mapping capabilities, the first step is determining the major capabilities. Then these are examined individually for their contribution to the overall organization. By understanding these separate abilities, it is possible for the weaknesses in each to be corrected and for the efficiency of the organization as a whole to be increased.

If done correctly, capability mapping will enable a business to streamline operations by revealing inefficiencies and other signs of waste. After an organization has an accurate capability map, it is possible to create another version of the document that outlines where the company would like to be. Thus, the exercise can provide illumination on the current state of the organization while laying the groundwork for future improvements.

When making projections, it can be helpful for related major capabilities to be linked so that the distribution of work can be planned. It can also show how different departments might share certain capabilities or might at least have the resources to help improve a capability outside of the department. This also helps to make a meaningful whole out of all the various abilities of an organization.

Efficient capability mapping captures the less-variable essence of an organization. Although the way in which business is conducted might change frequently, the central purpose and offerings of a company typically will be more stable. It is a framework upon which the business can grow and change.

By periodically engaging in capability mapping, a company can continually fine-tune its operations. Making updates to previous analyses can help keep an organization competitive and up to date with market innovations by revealing weak points in the company’s systems. It also can help maximize the effect of any reorganization.

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