Capability Cases: A Solutions Envisioning Approach

Capability Cases: A Solutions Envisioning Approach

by Irene Polikoff, Robert Coyne, Dean Allemang

"In this innovative book, Irene Polikoff, Robert Coyne, and Ralph Hodgson have captured deep insights from many years of studying how to get across the 'Business-IT Gap.' Capability Cases are an invaluable tool for bridging from envisioning to design."

—Steve Cook, software architect, Microsoft Corporation

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"In this innovative book, Irene Polikoff, Robert Coyne, and Ralph Hodgson have captured deep insights from many years of studying how to get across the 'Business-IT Gap.' Capability Cases are an invaluable tool for bridging from envisioning to design."

—Steve Cook, software architect, Microsoft Corporation

"Capability Cases offers hope that mere mortals can rise above the daunting challenge of blending technology and process. Executives hoping to adopt high-performing business models will want to learn this step-by-step approach to designing and implementing IT-enabled organizational change."

—Dr. Jeanne W. Ross, principal research scientist, MIT Center for Information


Both IT organizations and business leaders recognize the urgent importance of aligning technology solutions with enterprise strategy. But they've struggled to do so... until now. Capability Cases represents a breakthrough: a powerful, systematic way to translate business vision into effective plans and system designs.

The authors' Solution Envisioning methodology addresses the crucial "front end" of software development, where you decide what to build and how you're going to build it. Using realistic examples, they walk you through exploring the capabilities you need, capturing business best practices, identifying optimal solutions, and crafting software systems that deliver them.

Solution Envisioning enables you to specify better solutions in less time, build systems that more fully reflect your true needs, and dramatically reduce risk and cost throughout the entire development process. Understand Solution Envisioning—from vision to plan—in three phases:

  • Use Business Capability Exploration (BCE) to build a shared understanding of what is needed in a solution—model your business situation using business forces, desired results, metrics, and scenarios

  • Run Solution Capability Envisioning (SCE) workshops to facilitate decision-making, collaborative assessment, and consolidation of a solution concept—use Capability Case Galleries to discover alternatives, gain context, promote stakeholder interaction, and stimulate creativity

  • Move from concept to business case to a roadmap for realization with Software Capability Design (SCD)

Includes easy-to-use "best of class" templates for developing a business case, concept of operations, architectural decisions, and other key work products.

Whether you're an executive, architect, project manager, developer, change agent, or consultant, Capability Cases will help you bridge the gap between vision and solution—so you can finally get what you need from information technology.

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Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
6.80(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

About the Authors.






Trailhead-Why This Book?

What is the Solution Envisioning Process?

What are Capability Cases?

Preview of Important Terms for Modeling the Business Situation

Highlighting the Main Ideas and Threads of the Book

A Trail Map for the Book: The Journey Ahead


1. Technology Innovation and the Changing Business Landscape.

Chapter Preview

Understanding Business Challenges and IT Requirements

Informing Business Strategy with Views of Technology Possibilities

The Changing Role of IT

IT Imperatives and Governance

Coupling Business Vision to Technology Enablers

Supporting the New Role of IT

An Illustrative Story of Solution Envisioning

Backdrop-Consequences of Communication Failures

Story: "A Quest for Self-Service"

Trail Marker I: Appreciation of the Problem and Trail Ahead

2. Bridging the Gap with Solution Envisioning.

Chapter Preview

Solution Envisioning with Capability Cases

A Timely Intervention-in the Quest for a Business Transformation

The Goal: Matching Business Challenges to Proven Solutions

Process Overview: From Vision to Plan in Three Phases

Business Capability Exploration

Solution Capability Envisioning

Software Capability Design

The Role and Value of Capability Cases

Harnessing the Power of Stories and Tangible Examples

Capability Cases-A Summary View

Capability Cases in Action

Capability Cases-An Extended View

A Vocabulary That Integrates Envisioning and Capability Cases


Results and Measures

Anchoring Capability Cases in the Business Context

A Brief Illustration of Selecting Capability Cases

When Can Solution Envisioning Be Used?

How Long Does It Take?

Trail Marker II: Envisioning Solutions with Capability Cases

3. Illustrative Applications and Galleries.

Chapter Preview

Capability Case Galleries

Case Study I: Search Technology Workshop for the State Government

A Search for Self-Service

Business Capability Exploration

Solution Capability Envisioning

Envisioning Workshop Gallery I: State Government Self-Service

Capability Case I.1: Concept-Based Search

Capability Case I.2: National Search

Capability Case I.3: Visual Navigator

Capability Case I.4: Retrieval Assistant

Capability Case I.5: Personalized FAQ Agent

Capability Case I.6: Instant Helper

Capability Case I.7: Browse with a Buddy

Capability Case I.8: Virtual Time Machine

Workshop Results

Case Study II: Solution Envisioning at NASA

The Starting Point

Business Capability Exploration

Capability Envisioning

Envisioning Workshop Gallery II: NASA Digital Shuttle

Capability Case II.1: Product Design Assistant

Capability Case II.2: Generative Documentation

Capability Case II.3: Content Annotator

Capability Case II.4: Expert Locator

Capability Case II.5: Concept-Based Search

Capability Case II.6: Automated Content Tagger

Capability Case II.7: Interest-Based Information Delivery

Workshop Results

Capability Cases as Solution Design Assets

Trail Marker III: Exploring Capability Case Galleries

4. Positioning Within the Solution Delivery Cycle.

Chapter Preview

What Makes Solution Envisioning Different?

Where Does It Fit in the Solution Delivery Process?

Envisioning, Capability Cases, and the Iterative Nature of Design

Solution Envisioning is an Iterative Process

Capability Cases-Initially Solution Sketches and Later Blueprints

Trail Marker IV: Rationale for Solution Envisioning Outlined


5. Business Capability Exploration-Phase I of Solution Envisioning.

Chapter Preview

To Begin Envisioning-Business Capability Exploration (BCE)

The Work of Business Capability Exploration

Where Does Solution Envisioning Start?

BCE Activities I: Establish Business Situation and Resources

Activity 1 Establish Solution Initiative Shared Space

Activity 2 Establish Key Stakeholders

Activity 3 Clarify Solution Initiative Statement

Activity 4 Establish Inventory of Reference Materials

Activity 5 Clarify Business Context

Activity 6 Assess Use of Current IT Capabilities

Activity 7 Establish a Glossary for the Initiative

BCE Activities II: Identify Business Needs as Forces and Results

Activity 8 Elicit Forces, Barriers, Results

Activity 9 Identify Business Activities in Scope

Activity 10 Perform Stakeholder Impact Analysis

BCE Activities III: Explore Possibilities Informed by Technology

Activity 11 Nominate Capabilities

Activity 12 Explore Future Business Possibilities

Activity 13 Explore Technology Options

Activity 14 Perform Stakeholder Benefit Analysis

Activity 15 Refine Results

BCE Activities IV: Consolidate Initial Solution Vision for Sharing

Activity 16 Map Capabilities to Forces, Barriers, Challenges, and Results

Activity 17 Create Solution Vision Presentation

The Results of BCE and Readiness to Move to the Next Phase

Trail Marker V: Business Situation and Solution Initiative Understood

6. Solution Capability Envisioning-Phase II of Solution Envisioning.

Chapter Preview

Solution Capability Envisioning (SCE)-Appraising Solution Ideas

The Work of Solution Capability Envisioning

Envisioning and Design as Social Constructions

SCE Activities I: Prepare for the Solution Envisioning Workshop

Activity 1 Envisioning Workshop Planning

Activity 2 Elaborate Capability Cases Portfolio

Activity 3 Conduct Pre-Envisioning Workshop Walkthroughs

Activity 4 Preparing the Capability Cases Gallery

SCE Activities II: Conduct the Solution Envisioning Workshop

Activity 5 Launch the Solution Envisioning Workshop

Activity 6 Review Solution Vision

Activity 7 Tour Capability Cases Gallery

Activity 8 Conduct Solution Scenario Enactment

Activity 9 Prioritize Capabilities

SCE Activities III-Post-Workshop Assessment and Consolidation

Activity 10 Assess Solution Realization Gap

Activity 11 Post-Workshop Analysis and Consolidation of Concepts

The Results of SCE and Moving to the Next Phase

Trail Marker VI: Solution Concept and Roadmap Established

7. Software Capability Design-Phase III of Solution Envisioning.

Chapter Preview

Software Capability Design (SCD)-from Concept to Realization

SCD for a Web Services and SOA Development Strategy

The Work of Software Capability Design

SCD Activities I: Select Implementation Technologies

Activity 1 Evaluate Technology Options and Decide Development Strategy

Activity 2 Specify Non-functional Requirements

Activity 3 Select Potential Technologies and Vendors

Activity 4 Analyze IT Risks, Dependencies, and Technology Constraints

SCD Activities II: Develop Software Capability Architecture

Activity 5 Elaborate Capability Architecture

Activity 6 Evaluate Capability Architecture

SCD Activities III-Develop Business Case and Solution Roadmap

Activity 7 Develop Business Case

Activity 8 Develop Solution Realization and Adoption Plan

The Results of Software Capability Design

Moving from Solution Envisioning to Solution Realization

Trail Marker VII: Business Case and Roadmap for Implementation


8. Solution Envisioning in Different Situations.

Chapter Preview

Solution Envisioning as a Customizable Framework

Focusing the Solution Envisioning Workshop

Different Situations-Different Approaches

A. Formulating a Solution

A.1 Using Solution Envisioning to Formulate a Concept of Operations

A.2 Finalizing a Solution Design

B. Promoting Technology Potential

C. Gaining Confidence in a Technology

The Complementary Role of Solution Envisioning

Incorporating Solution Envisioning into QFD

Enterprise Architecture and Solution Envisioning

Solution Envisioning and DoDAF

Solution Envisioning and ISO RM-ODP

Solution Envisioning and Development Paradigms

Solution Envisioning and Rapid Prototyping

Solution Envisioning and Model-Driven Architecture

Trail Marker VIII: Solution Envisioning Tailored to Situation

9. Conclusion-Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead with Envisioning.

Reflections on Solution Envisioning

Plans for Evolving Solution Envisioning

Fostering Adoption and Practice of a New Approach

A Rose by Any Other Name...

Winning the Right to Do Solution Envisioning

Making the Business Case to Do Solution Envisioning

Some Practical Next Steps

A Community

End of Trail: Solution Envisioning

Appendix A: History and Design of Solution Envisioning.

The X-Model and Object-Oriented Development

Design by Analogy and the Architecture Handbook

OOPSLA Workshops (1996-2000)

Other Small Influences

Solution Envisioning and Creativity

Why Metaphors are Poweful

Capability Cases and Patterns

The Importance of the "Right" Deliverables

Appendix B: Additional Techniques.

Creativity Techniques

Using Storytelling for the Creation of Future Scenarios


Decision Support Techniques

Conducting Envisioning Workshops as "Theater Play"

Envisioning as a Five Act Play

Appendix C: Software Capability Design Implementation Alternatives.

SCD for Custom Applications

Custom Application Using RUP and MSF

SCD Activity 5 Elaborate Capability Architecture

SCD Activity 6 Evaluate Capability Architecture

SCD in eXtreme Programming (XP) Projects

SCD Activity 5 Elaborate Capability Architecture

SCD Activity 6 Evaluate Capability Architecture

SCD in EDOC-Based Component Development

SCD Activity 5 Elaborate Capability Architecture

SCD Activity 6 Evaluate Capability Architecture

SCD and Package Implementation

SCD Activity 5 Elaborate Capability Architecture

SCD Activity 6 Evaluate Capability Architecture


Appendix D: Solution Envisioning Activities and Workproducts-Summary Table for Each Phase.

The Activities and Workproducts of Phase I-Business Capability Exploration

The Activities and Workproducts of Phase II-Solution Capability Envisioning

The Activities and Workproducts of Phase III-Software Capability Design

List of Figures.

List of Tables.

List of Techniques.




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