Announcing the BRSdata Capability Map™

Vanessa   Lam
Vanessa Lam Director, BRSdata Read Author Bio || Read All Articles by Vanessa Lam


The structure of data teams differs from organization to organization. These teams are sometimes decentralized, sometimes centralized; sometimes they are on the business side and sometimes on the technical side. This often makes it very hard for data teams to know what they should be responsible and accountable for across the organization. People from diverse backgrounds who have different experiences with data organizations may have very different expectations of what the team should be accountable for.

We created the BRSdata Capability Map to guide data organizations and ensure they cover everything they should be accountable for, covering both Operational Data and Analytical Data organizations.

How to Read the Map

The BRSdata Capability Map has three rows, each representing a different set of capabilities a data team should be accountable for. The first row, Core Capabilities, outlines the critical outputs a data team needs to produce. The second row, Guiding Capabilities, shows the strategic decisions that a data team needs to ensure the Core Capabilities' long-term health and scalability. The third row, Enabling Capabilities, discusses the ongoing processes required to ensure the Core Capabilities are running efficiently and responsibly.

Core Capabilities

The Core Capabilities of a data organization are the ones that the organization expects them to accomplish — the "keeping the lights on" activities. This is what stakeholders expect from the data team. At a company like UPS, the Core Capabilities are 1) being able to drop off a package in-store or have it picked up, 2) having it shipped within a pre-specified amount of time, and 3) arriving at the prescribed destination without damage. Similarly, data is accountable for such Core Capabilities as 1) Organizing Data, 2) Pipelining Data, 3) Reporting on Data, and 4) Analyzing & Interpreting Data.

Guiding Capabilities

The Guiding Capabilities are the ones that allow the data organization to plan strategically for the long term. These capabilities elevate a team from constantly fielding immediate-need requests and instead focus on building out infrastructure and organization that can produce repeatable processes and analyses for consistent use. These are strategies that allow the team to perform the Core Capabilities better. The Guiding Capabilities for data are 1) Planning Resources, 2) Planning Technical Data Architecture, 3) Planning Business Data Architecture, and 4) Governing Data.

Enabling Capabilities

The Enabling Capabilities are those that need to be done consistently to enable the efficient and responsible execution of the Core Capabilities. They are the policies and practices that equip team members and stakeholders with the skills and guardrails to interact with and understand data. The Enabling Capabilities are 1) Adopting Data Culture, 2) Providing Training, 3) Reporting on Data, and 4) Mitigating Risks.


The BRSdata Capability Map gives us a guide to what a data organization should be accountable for. All the functions support the Core Capabilities, which are ultimately what stakeholders look to as a measure of success. The BRSdata Capability Map helps data organizations ensure that they have thought critically about the essential pieces of their data organization. My future articles will reference the BRSdata Capability Map to illustrate how specific tasks fall under these capabilities.

# # #

Standard citation for this article:

citations icon
Vanessa Lam, "Announcing the BRSdata Capability Map™" Business Rules Journal, Vol. 23, No. 6, (Jun. 2022)

About our Contributor:

Vanessa   Lam
Vanessa Lam Director, BRSdata

As Director of BRSdata, Vanessa Lam created a division within Business Rule Solutions (BRS) to focus on data culture, data accountability, and business intelligence.

Vanessa specializes in building data-driven organizations where operations and leadership understand and trust the data, treat data as a resource, and use data to make day-to-day and strategic decisions.

Previously, she worked at Mastercard as a Manager of Business Insight and Productivity and Optoro as a Manager of Business Intelligence. In these roles, she created educational tools for the organization, fostered data communities, and ensured people used data responsibly.

Ms. Lam's popular articles on data quality and data culture are published regularly in the Business Rules Journal and TDAN (The Data Administration Newsletter). She is a frequent speaker at Enterprise Data World, Building Business Capability Conference, Tableau User Group, and Predictive Analytics World.

She has a Masters of Computer and Information Technology from the University of Pennsylvania and a BSc in Economics from the Wharton School. She was recently named a top influencer to watch in 2021 by IIBA. You can follow her at @Big_On_Data on Twitter.

Read All Articles by Vanessa Lam
Subscribe to the eBRJ Newsletter
In The Spotlight
 Silvie  Spreeuwenberg
 John A. Zachman
The Issue Is THE ENTERPRISE By John A. Zachman Jan. 2017 | Vol. 18, Iss. 1

Online Interactive Training Series

In response to a great many requests, Business Rule Solutions now offers at-a-distance learning options. No travel, no backlogs, no hassles. Same great instructors, but with schedules, content and pricing designed to meet the special needs of busy professionals.