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What is the value of process maturity models?

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As Alberto Manuel asks in this blog post: What is the value of process maturity models?

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  • There is a continuous desire in business to bag and tag everything and wrap a rigid structure around it. Maturity Models are no different.

    If you think along human terms, at what point are we as people considered 'mature' ? There are no parameters, defined lines or little switches that one day get flicked and hey presto! we are now 'mature'.

    Maturity in all senses of the word is a continuing evolution of understanding and learning, of reassessing the state and perspective against a background of change.
    Process maturity should be no different.

    What one organisation considers to be mature does not apply to another and therefore these structured models are merely guidelines only, not hard and fast rules to stick to. The value is in using them as such, guides. Not goals to aim for. As Manuel asks, "Do you believe it’s worth to start a change program because you have a process at level 3 maturity stage when a level 5 process, customer critical is the first candidate?". Common sense prevail please. "Skipping levels is not allowed/feasible." according to the CMMI - that's a joke surely.

    I love the Wiki definition of being ultra-mature: Level 5 process management includes deliberate process optimization/improvement.

    Maturity is organic. Not deliberate.

  • Precisely to Theo's points, I advise my clients and teach the students in my professional training classes to be sure to have a maturity model, but not to worry about which one to use or even to use any one in particular. I also tell them that it isn't cost effective to achieve the highest maturity level, but that that is the goal to strive for until the law of diminishing returns raises its ugly head.

  • Glad to see a topic raised by Alberto, who is a pretty smart guy (follow him on Twitter and see for yourself).

    Those who regularly suffer through—er, that is, read—my postings know that I'm generally anti-formalization. Maturity models are a great case in point. Look, if I know my business, I should not need a gaggle of Six Sigma Black Belts to tell me whether or not a process is meeting my needs.

    Automate. Measure. Improve. That's the “model”. Everything else is noise.

  • To me all those maturity models never had  much value.  
    What happens if you are on level 3 or 4 ? Your ceo get's a purple heart? You will get an award?

    If there should be any value, it must be education on what it takes to become mature. And not on the importance to be mature or not.

    I think, when organizations really understand what it means to manage by process,  (delivering a results within certain goals set for that result by USING the process) you can immediately tell if it  is mature or not. 

    A process that delivers what it promises and has the characteristics to adapt to changes, is mature. All else is not. But maybe a mature process is not nessecarry always, because I think maturity must be seen forevery process individual and not for an organization as a whole. 

    For example, if your process delivers a result for which there are many competitors, it must perform very well (leading to all those continuous improvement thread mills)
    If the process result is quite unique, being a little immature is not such a disaster yet. So process maturity can be traded for creativity and innovation.

    So, maturity models. A nice toy for consultants, but please, instead of scoring your processes, start using your processes to make your customers happy.

    In the end, every process needs it''s own characteristics ( in execution, management, agility and longer term improvements) to deliver what it promises.

    That really sounds grown up to me.

  • Oh we are a bunch of cynics aren't we :)

    I feel funny "defending" maturity models, if you can call what i'm saying "defending"... http://www.bp-3.com/blogs/2012/07/the-trouble-with-process-maturity/

    But, i'll say that Process maturity models have a value that is similar to having labels for performance - A, B, C. or labels for jobs. They can help in that it is a short-hand for a whole set of characteristics when communicating about a process from one person to another. So long as they share the same "language" then a model or rating can be a useful shortcut. Because in that situation you can take a rating (maturity) + context and make decisions. It isn't clear that a higher maturity level is good in all cases, or that a high level of maturity doesn't still require a lot of improvement, for example...

    The problem with maturity as a general concept is that without context it means not-so-much. I think theo's description of "bag and tag" is about right - categorizing things is part-and-parcel of business operations.

  • I'm glad that the post catch the community attention.

    There is an underneath thought regarding the importance of thinking when humans make decisions.

    These days I'm experiencing increasing expectations that systems can help humans to predict or to improve operations. Repeatably people ask me when I'm making approaches with bpm tools (does not mean bpms only) if the system can recommend new ways to execute, to improve radically, to innovate. I don't know if humans want to quit to think about problem solving or want to be helped more quickly in a time where speed to change is a key enabler to achieve market differentiation. For the time being, such intelligence does not exist (despite it's being marketed a such) but somehow we will get there with efforts of R&D. Think for example that we are not to far from fully automated vehicle driving.

    Anyhow even if we had today that intelligence, there is a system principle that we cannot get rid off: the errors of intuitive thought or cognitive illusion. Systems don't have the capacity to separate and process errors that don't match in their computing algorithms. I remember a robot with intelligence provided by the IBM's Watson that the only answer about North Korea was "North Korea does not have commercial/political relationship with USA".

    Probably in the future artificial intelligence will be a reality, but still errors of cognitive thought are difficult to avoid.

    That is the reason that despite maturity models can provide a direction, the final decision will be made by a human being. Because he knows (or supposedly knows)what is the critical change that must be done that never can be part of a assessment model.

  • And another strange thing about maturity models is that it seems they make bpm a goal in itself.

    I hope that bpm will never become a goal of an organization. Inwant them to help me with my insurance, my broken car or my new passport.

    And of course better grip on your process can make me, as a customer, happy. But why call this maturity? It's just doing a good job. That's the goal, not bpm.

  • there are so many state and federal laws that affect certain aspects of these operations

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