ArchiMate® 3.0.1 Specification
Copyright © 2012-2017 The Open Group

7 Strategy Elements

7.1 Strategy Elements Metamodel

Figure 44 gives an overview of the strategy elements and their relationships.

Figure 44: Strategy Elements Metamodel

Note: This figure does not show all permitted relationships; every element in the language can have composition, aggregation, and specialization relationships with elements of the same type; furthermore, there are indirect relationships that can be derived as explained in Section 5.6. The full specification of permitted relationships can be found in Appendix B.

7.2 Structure Elements

7.2.1 Resource

A resource represents an asset owned or controlled by an individual or organization.

Resources are a central concept in the field of strategic management, economics, computer science, portfolio management, and more. They are often considered, together with capabilities, to be sources of competitive advantage for organizations. Resources are analyzed in terms of strengths and weaknesses, and they are considered when implementing strategies. Due to resources being limited, they can often be a deciding factor for choosing which strategy, goal, and project to implement and in which order. Resources can be classified into tangible assets – financial assets (e.g., cash, securities, borrowing capacity), physical assets (e.g., plant, equipment, land, mineral reserves), intangible assets (technology; e.g., patents, copyrights, trade secrets; reputation; e.g., brand, relationships; culture), and human assets (skills/know-how, capacity for communication and collaboration, motivation).

Resources are realized by active and passive structure elements. The name of a resource should preferably be a noun.

Figure 45: Resource Notation

7.3 Behavior Elements

7.3.1 Capability

A capability represents an ability that an active structure element, such as an organization, person, or system, possesses.

In the field of business, strategic thinking and planning delivers strategies and high-level goals that are often not directly implementable in the architecture of an organization. These long-term or generic plans need to be specified and made actionable in a way that both business leaders and Enterprise Architects can relate to, and at a relatively high abstraction level.

Capabilities help to reduce this gap by focusing on business outcomes. On the one hand, they provide a high-level view of the current and desired abilities of an organization, in relation to its strategy and its environment. On the other hand, they are realized by various elements (people, processes, systems, and so on) that can be described, designed, and implemented using Enterprise Architecture approaches. Capabilities may also have serving relationships; for example, to denote that one capability contributes to another.

Capabilities are expressed in general and high-level terms and are typically realized by a combination of organization, people, processes, information, and technology. For example, marketing, customer contact, or outbound telemarketing [4].

Capabilities are typically aimed at achieving some goal or delivering value by realizing an outcome. Capabilities are themselves realized by core elements. To denote that a set of core elements together realizes a capability, grouping can be used.

Capabilities are often used for capability-based planning, to describe their evolution over time. To model such so-called capability increments, the specialization relationship can be used to denote that a certain capability increment is a specific version of that capability. Aggregating those increments and the core elements that realize them in plateaus (see Section 13.2.4) can be used to model the evolution of the capabilities.

Figure 46: Capability Notation

7.3.2 Course of Action

A course of action is an approach or plan for configuring some capabilities and resources of the enterprise, undertaken to achieve a goal.

A course of action represents what an enterprise has decided to do. Courses of action can be categorized as strategies and tactics. It is not possible to make a hard distinction between the two, but strategies tend to be long-term and fairly broad in scope, while tactics tend to be shorter-term and narrower in scope.

Figure 47: Course of Action Notation

7.4 Example

Increase Profit is a goal that can be decomposed into a number of other goals: Decrease Costs and Increase Revenue. The former is related to the Operation Excellence strategy of the company, modeled as a course of action. This is decomposed into two other courses of action: Centralize IT Systems and Standardize Products. These result in two outcomes: Decreased Costs and Loss of Customers, which influence the goals in positive and negative ways. This shows an important difference between goals and outcomes: not all outcomes lead to the intended results.

The courses of action are realized by a number of capabilities: IT Management & Operations and Product Management, and appropriate resources Human Resources and IT Resources are assigned to the former. The model fragment also shows that these resources are located in the Headquarters of the organization, in line with the Centralize IT Systems course of action.

Example 21: Strategy Elements

7.5 Summary of Strategy Elements

Table 5 gives an overview of the strategy elements, with their definitions.

Table 5: Strategy Elements





An asset owned or controlled by an individual or organization.


An ability that an active structure element, such as an organization, person, or system, possesses.

Course of action

An approach or plan for configuring some capabilities and resources of the enterprise, undertaken to achieve a goal.

7.6 Relationships with Motivation and Core Elements

Figure 48 shows how the strategy elements are related to core elements and motivation elements. Internal and external behavior elements may realize capabilities, while an active or passive structure element may realize a resource. Capabilities, courses of action, and resources may realize or influence requirements (and, indirectly, as described in Section 5.6, also principles or goals), and a course of action may also realize or influence an outcome (and, indirectly, also a goal).

Figure 48: Relationships between Strategy Elements and Motivation and Core Elements

return to top of page


Downloads of the ArchiMate documentation are available under license from the Download link within the ArchiMate information web site. The license is free to any organization wishing to use ArchiMate documentation entirely for internal purposes. A book is also available from The Open Group Bookstore as document C179.

Copyright © 2012-2017 The Open Group, All Rights Reserved
ArchiMate is a registered trademark of The Open Group.