Maturity Models and Metrics


It’s officially the holiday season, which means we’re about to indulge in an abundance of rich food with people we love. It’s no wonder one of the top reported resolutions for the new year is to lose weight. Once the weight is lost, however, the dilemma becomes how to successfully keep it off. What’s the secret to parting ways with the extra weight for good? Setting continuous goals and consistently measuring progress has a lot to do with it. I recently lost more than 40 pounds and want to make sure I don’t regain them. To be successful, I purchased a Bluetooth weight scale and now weigh myself every day. The scale is even synced with an application on my phone so I can track progress over time.

Why am I sharing weight loss tips with you? I’m discussing it because successful body transformation and business transformation have key similarities. To achieve effective business transformation of any kind (i.e. IT transformation to cloud, move to digital business model, adoption of DevOps) you must set iterative goals (Maturity Model) and measure progress (Key Performance Indicators).

Visionary Goal

The first step in any transformation is to know the ultimate goal. This goal should be a step further than your past achievements. Why settle for the moon if you would discover more on mars? The goal may never be completely achieved, but it will provide a target for continuous improvement in the organization.

Maturity Models

A visionary goal is not achieved from one massive overnight effort. The ultimate target will be unreachable without preparation. People and processes must mature, technology will need to evolve, and culture has to shift. In order to make progress, we will need a maturity model.

Maturity models allow the visionary goal to be broken down into smaller achievable goals, which represent increasing levels of maturity and evolution. Each level of maturity also contains a quantified or qualified measure against a meaningful metric of maturity.

Producing or adopting a maturity model represents the preparation deliverable in the transformation journey. Maturity models enable measurement of the transformation. The first step toward transformation is to measure against the maturity model to determine current level of maturity. This initial measure is used to plan where to focus efforts of improvement in capabilities, processes, technology, and culture.

Measuring Against KPI’s

Transformation requires changes in behavior. For instance, following our earlier example of weight loss, to lose weight an individual will need to eat less, eat cleaner, and cut sugar from the diet. These behaviors are both quantitative (counting calories) and qualitative (eating clean). The best way to produce changes in behavior is to track a metric that is directly related to the behavior. When losing weight, body mass is the measure. By measuring my body mass daily, I encourage the change in behavior to eat clean and eat less each day. It is the daily change that produces the achievements that allow for overall transformation.

Time to market is a common measure used in business. For a given maturity to be achieved, the business may desire a 5-day return on specific features. Current measures show that it requires 10-days for those specific features to be delivered. The maturity model helps determine which behaviors should change in order to reach the goal of 5-day feature deliveries. Development team behaviors like checking in code multiple times each day, building and deploying every hour, and writing unit tests for all functions are related to continuous integration, which is a maturity step toward faster time to market.

Continuous Improvement

Visionary goals are intentionally very difficult to fully achieve. The organization should never stop maturing. The final phase of a maturity model may mark the achievement of the primary objectives, but every organization should continuously seek to improve and automate processes. Remember to invest in the professional development of people, look for new technologies that deliver customer value, and evolve the culture to meet the challenge ahead.

How have you benefited from maturity models and metrics? Share your story in the comments below!

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