Process Capability and Data Platforms

Organizational capabilities can be divided into three categories: resources, processes, and priorities. Resources are what you use to achieve an outcome, processes are how you achieve it, and priorities are why. Understanding capabilities in this way can aid in strategy not only across a large organization but also within units, and even for individuals.1

Resources are tangible assets. Resources that you use and consult as part of intended processes, and to communicate intended priorities, are neither the processes nor the priorities themselves.

If you outsource all or part of a process, you erode in-house process capability. You still get secondary output resources from primary input resources via these outsourced processes, and downstream in-house processes are unaffected. You might eventually find yourself sailing as Theseus – you continue to have and produce the resources you need, so it’s still the same ship, right?

As part of a deliberate short-term strategy, it can be a good idea to outsource a process, or, equivalently, a component of it. Your plan has been validated, and you’re focused on growth. However, if you don’t know enough to set a deliberate strategy, then yours may be an emergent strategy, impatient on validation and patient on growth. Validation is about checking assumptions as part of any prediction or forecasting: what must be true for this to work? It might not be a good idea to outsource processes key to validating an emergent strategy.

For data-intensive research, commercial informatics platforms can mitigate the need to develop or maintain in-house process capabilities, for which ongoing professional development/training is crucial. However, this means that the manner in which you derive insight from internal data resources may be intimately tied to the capabilities – the resources, processes, and priorities – of another organization.


  1. Christensen, How Will You Measure Your Life?. Harper Business, 2012. ↩︎