Greater I&O process maturity is essential if I&O leaders are to improve IT services delivered to customers (see "Gartner Poll Suggests IT Management Processes Aren't Maturing"). However, we believe that, although a focus on process is necessary, it's not sufficient for IT maturity, especially in I&O. Process-centricity makes sense when process alone drives maturity, and all other elements follow. However, in the IT industry, the technology is constantly evolving, and discontinuity is the norm. Technological changes can require resetting maturity in other areas; for example, operationalizing virtualization requires process changes. Hence, technology is also affecting maturity. An IT maturity model must include technology. As IT becomes more ingrained in business processes, IT organization, culture and skills will also need to radically change. Culture, organization and personnel changes will often be prerequisites for process improvement and shifts in how technology is leveraged. Finally, people, process and technology are driven and constrained by the ways in which they're managed, including the governance procedures. Hence, we see process, technology, people and business management as the four essential dimensions of I&O maturity.
These four assessment dimensions should generally move together and be aligned as I&O maturity increases. However, we recognize that, although they tend to move in the same direction, they don’t all move at the same rate, because the rate will depend on organization, business and investment priorities. As a result, we encourage our clients to pay attention to all four dimensions; otherwise, if one lags consistently, it will hold you back from gaining the overall benefits of the I&O maturity level for which you're striving.
Another important aspect of an IT maturity model is the need for a rapid ROI. Because of the rate of technology change, the change in business requirements and operational processes, and the need for new skills and collaboration methods, IT projects that require many years of implementation and expect a long-term ROI inevitably fail, as tools change or goals shift. An IT maturity model must provide for smaller steps, implementable in no more than two or three years, that generate measurable, rapid ROI.
Although it may take several years for organizations to progress to the next level in the maturity model, they should define improvement initiatives that can be executed in four to six months. These smaller initiatives make the changes easier to absorb and ensure that incremental benefits are being realized while on the longer maturity journey.
We have defined six overall levels of I&O maturity, with the following objectives for each level:
Level 0, Survival — Little to no focus on IT infrastructure and operations.
Level 1, Awareness — Realization that infrastructure and operations are critical to the business; beginning to take actions (in people/organization, process and technologies) to gain operational control and visibility.
Level 2, Committed — Moving to a managed environment, for example, for day-to-day IT support processes and improved success in project management to become more customer-centric and increase customer satisfaction.
Level 3, Proactive — Gaining efficiencies and service quality through standardization, policy development, governance structures and implementation of proactive, cross-departmental processes, such as change and release management.
Level 4, Service-Aligned — Managing IT like a business; customer-focused; proven, competitive and trusted IT service provider.
Level 5, Business Partnership — Trusted partner to the business for increasing the value and competitiveness of business processes, as well as the business as a whole.
Read about the Microsoft IO model here.