Suggested by Emiel Kelly from this discussion: "I’ve always been a little skeptical about BPM maturity models. So can you give an example where a BPM maturity model (like Gartner, OMG or APQC, I don’t care) arose from it’s theoretical 'aha moment' and really was used in practice?"
Maturity models can be useful providing the stages are not established by people who have axes to grind.
Like KPIs, it is very easy to be using the wrong maturity model (i.e. if your objective is to improve "competitive advantage", no point trying to sub-optimize on a methodology like BPM).
Everyone thinks that they are a better lover or driver than they really are. Companies think that they are managing their processes better than they really are. The maturity model is a reality check for them.
At Nimbus we had a "implementation health check"; a bunch of self assessment questions which then gave a rating across a number of criteria. It was built in Excel, but was a lovely pice of work. A Goverment client completed the survey and got the lowest score EVER. The Head of Process Excellence was very happy, as he now had some hard evidence to go back to his management to get the right level of support and funding.
We use our maturity model all the time, but I can't honestly say it arose from a single "aha" moment. Rather, it was developed over time based on a body of work and experiences. I also should add that we sometimes use only certain components of the full-blown model, generally to accomplish the sort of reality check Ian describes. I think I'm gonna steal the lover/driver analogy!
Hmm so what does this mean...sounds like a another analyst phrase to exasperated business? We know BPM is the thinking discipline putting people first in build of operational applications. Model sounds like the how factor that can address needs anywhere in an organisation? Now "maturity" is this in the organisation or is it the maturity of the supporting software; could be both?
Fact is putting people and process is getting back to basics in how any business actually should work but sadly over past 40 years something IT has failed to recognise. Sure great "processing" power but failure to focus on how to support people and their processes. So where does this concept sit? It must surely be about education that such business basics can now be supported. But business will treat with justified scepticism given the history of delivery of the clunky legacy that has cost huge sums to buy and run. So showing a conceptual model is not going to go far? However if business can understand in their language just how it could deliver then the first step to tackle a requirement could get started. If it works then a plan or "model" could be drawn up to spread this new way across the organisation. In terms of such delivery being "mature"; I doubt it has been achieved. As for mature software capability business will want to know is it future proof?.....They want the yes response and proof by understanding. Then just maybe maturity in the organistion within a decade.....?
I think the answer is "it depends". If you have been on a journey before, a rough map is not all that useful. However, if you are a journey that is new to you, it should be helpful. A good maturty model gives you signposts and indicators of good progress. We always marked our trails for others when we hiked to helps others. Maturity models should be attempting the same :)
Thanks all for your comments and opinions.
Although I understand the idea the creators of maturity models must have had, I always wondered if it makes sense to know at what level you are. To me there are only 2:
you suck or you don't your processes perform or they don't.
And as Alexander says; what's the use of keeping score if nobody agrees on the rules?
But I could also see, like others said, a Maturity model as some kind of guide for improving the way you manage your organization by processes.
So in the end maturity models are like a chainsaw; if you use them wisely, they could be of help.
And in the end it's not about being mature; it's about serving your customers (and have your processes set up well for that)
Yes, all the time! No matter which particular brand is utilized, the maturity model concept is a very powerful and practical tool.
I can see from our practice that many organizations of different scales and from different industries follow the same path: from defining the operational procedures to designing core end-to-end processes to automating them in ERP and other COTS to holistic business process management. Amazingly enough, the path that individual organizations follow is very similar to how the process disciplne evolved globally: from operations management to quality movement to reengineering to BPM.
Seeing this path, understanding what stair you currently stay on and where do you want to be is extremely important for any BPM initiative. It sets up realistic expectations and preserves the organization from heavy and costly mistakes.