A capability is defined as that which provides the ability to achieve a desired effect under specified standards and conditions. Desired effects must manifest themselves as measurable changes in the resources consumed to achieve these effects. These resources must be available when needed by the set of activities selected for a particular course of action in pursuit of these effects. Such courses of action provide the ingredients for an organization to pursue its mission, and for stakeholders to employ the concepts of operation of the systems employed by that organization.
Different architectural frameworks have different interpretations for the concept of a capability. For example, the TOGAF framework uses the word 'capability' to delineate business capabilities for architectures, while using the concept of 'capability increments' in capability planning. In contrast, the DODAF framework uses the data model depicted in figure 1.
Architectures define how such capabilities should be resourced to achieve these desirable effects. This requires consideration of the system of interest's variety, mode, and mereology. Within the architecture, activities consume resources that are in one state, and produce resources that cause a transition to another state. Performers perform activities that change the state of resources. Performers do this under conditions that affect their performance. Performers do this by following guidance to perform tasks under specified conditions. All this can be measured, so the performance of an activity can be assessed against standards of performance. In architectural terms: tasks are activities, ways are guidance, means are performers, conditions are conditions, standards are a particular sort of guidance, and desired effects are changes in the states of resources.