When you assess capability gaps, you do the business a great service because not only are you identifying new opportunities for business expansion and increased profits, but you also uncover new capabilities required by the customer to meet current and future business needs.
Before you can analyze any possible gaps in capability, you must have a clear understanding of the company’s current status in several areas:
- Human resources
- Technology and infrastructure
- Legal limitations (for example, medical and healthcare companies are bound by specific laws)
- Current and future financial obligations
- Patents, copyrights, and other intellectual property
Gather all the information you can about the client and the business needs. Your first objective is to gain specific awareness of how well current company structure meets business goals. You cannot move forward to assess current and future capability gaps if you don’t know where the business stands currently.
You may not be able to ascertain the current status of certain aspects of the business right away—or the stakeholders may not be aware of the business status. You may need to develop models to understand that particular business area.
When you analyze the current capabilities of the client, you are doing Business Analysis in its purest form. You will look at all its resources, ranging from personnel to cash flow to structure to systems. You’ll determine how well the company can meet current challenges, which may be simpler than analyzing its ability to grow and take care of future demands.
Should you see a shortfall in capability, it will be up to you to determine how the business can change, expand, or reduce to make up that lack. Don’t ignore any part of the current company structure, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box when brainstorming a solution. Some of the best business ideas appeared to “come from left field” at first.
According to BABOK®, “Change may be needed to any component of the enterprise, including (but not limited to): business processes, functions, lines of business, organization structures, staff competencies, knowledge and skills, training, facilities, desktop tools, organization locations, data and information, application systems and/or technology infrastructure.”
Once the current capabilities of the company are understood and found adequate for the current status of the company, you then need a clear understanding of the desired direction the stakeholders wish to move the company in. You cannot assess future capability gaps unless you know the future objectives.
If you find that current capabilities cannot meet projected business need, you must not only identify the gaps, but you must also provide a plan to boost the company’s capabilities to the level needed. You are working in the future, and all your models must have that in mind. If you can create a comparison of current and future business needs and the capability gaps you have identified, stakeholders will more readily understand the depth of change needed.
Per BABOK®, some examples of capabilities include:
- Business processes
- Features of a software application
- Tasks that an end user may perform
- Events that a solution must be able to respond to
- Products that an organization creates
- Services that an organization delivers
- Goals that a solution will allow stakeholders to accomplish
One caveat: your analysis is all the company has to go on when it comes to future capability needs. While you can provide a highly educated opinion about these future needs, the fact is that many variables come into play when projecting. Stakeholders must understand that you cannot and will not promise anything, but that you are going by your expert analysis, and it may be inaccurate to a degree.
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