Saturday, December 1, 2007

Gartner Maturity Model

I attended Gartner Data Center Conference this week. Since the show was held in Las Vegas, it presents a bit of a dilemma for bloggers like me, as the unwritten rule for Las Vegas is “what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.” Well, I found a couple of the discussions interesting, so I am going to talk about them anyways.

The first session that I attended was Donna Scott and Jay Pultz' keynote on the Gartner Maturity Model. The concept of a maturity model is not a new thing. Models such as Software Engineering Institute's CMMI have been around for many years. What's interesting about the Gartner model is that it focuses specifically on IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) practices and it covers not only process assessment, but also organization, human resource and business management assessments.

The model classifies I&O maturity into 6 levels:
0. survival – no defined I&O practices
1. awareness – has dedicated resources for I&O
2. committed – has sufficient resources, but mostly operating in reactive mode; attempts to define informal operational level agreements
3. proactive – be able to forecast demands of various IT services and provision capacity accordingly
4. service aligned – formal service level agreement defined; organization has capabilities to achieve the formal service level targets
5. business partners – IT is capable of proactively suggest using technologies to transform organizations and bring new products and services to market

The model contains some pretty detailed classification criterion. I am not going into the details of them, since there is too much information to write on a blog and Gartner probably won't want me to give away the whole thing. Call Gartner if you want the details.

The most interesting part of the session was the live audience poll, in which the audience was asked to provide quick self assessments of where their organizations stand according to the maturity model. The overall distribution was fairly close to a bell curve but with a bit more concentration at the lower levels. Only 4 percent of the participants rated their organizations to be at level 4 or above.

I think the point about these maturity models is not necessary the specific details and the classification criteria. One could argue all day whether something should fall under level 2 or 3. The importance of these models is that they provide yardsticks to assess how organizations improve over time. For example, Gartner estimates that by 2012, 14% of large IT organizations would be at level 4 or above. We will see if this prediction comes true.

Does your organization use a maturity model to drive improvements? What sort of experience have you had in using them?

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