Friday, January 17, 2014

IT maturity models to be used in continues updated roadmaps

Technology is becoming more and more one of the main supporting assets of a business. Where we could state a couple of decades ago that technology was providing a useful hand in doing the daily operations it is now one of the main assets that is driving most companies. When technology fails or is not able to or designed to provide the correct level of services to the business this has an immediate impact on operations and the survivability of companies. Due to this it becomes more and more of a vital importance that companies will look critically at what they expect from technology, how it fits in the business goals and how it will support the organization now and in the future.

To ensure that an organization knows where it is, where it needs to be heading and if it has the capabilities currently to go from where they are to where they should be or will most likely need to be in the foreseeable future it is advisable to have a moving roadmap. A moving roadmap is a continuously updated IT strategy which holds a continues self assessment and future assessment. Within this moving roadmap the steps needed to ensure services will be at levels the organization needs them to be and to ensure that the company will be keeping up with trends in the market. This is not the IT market however the market segment where the company operates in and where technological advantages and improvements can be used to keep up with the changes in the business market segment.

To be able to create a roadmap it is of importance to know where you are right now and where you need to be heading. A number of components are of importance in such a self assessment. One of those is to ensure you have a clear view on the maturity of your IT organization at this moment and at a later stage how mature your IT organization needs to be to support and keep supporting the business organization.  Oracle has, as part of their IT strategies library, created a framework for maturity models. The direct intention is not purely to be used within a strategic continues updated roadmap however it can very well be used in such a roadmap.

Oracle uses the maturity model to help customers understand and create an ETS or Enterprise Technology Strategy. The ETS line of thinking is used for major changes in relation to the implementation and adoption of new or updated technology. The Oracle statement on ETS in relation to the Oracle proposed maturity model is the following:

In order to successfully execute an ETS, an organization must identify the needed capabilities required by that ETS and measure their organization’s proficiency in each of these essential capabilities. This is the genesis for the generic Maturity Model.

The basis of the Enterprise Technology Strategy related maturity model Oracle is using the below model.

The model is based upon both areas which are categorized based upon the organizational disciplines as well as the technology that dominates an area. The organizational disciplines which are defined in this model are; “Business & Strategy”, ”Organization”, “Governance and Project” and “Projects, Portfolios & Services”. The technology dominated areas are; “Architecture”, “Infrastructure”, “information” and “Operations, Administration & Management”.

Within the Oracle maturity model framework Oracle has given the following meaning to the specific area’s;

Business & Strategy
Contains capabilities that provide the high-level constructs that allow the Enterprise Technology Strategy initiative to proceed. This includes such things as business motivation, expected benefits, guiding principles, expected costs, funding model, etc.

Contains capabilities concerning the development of corporate competency around Enterprise Technology Strategy including the organizational structure and skills development.

Contains capabilities concerning the governance structures and processes that support and guide the Enterprise Technology Strategy efforts. Maturity and adoption of an adequate amount of governance is a leading indicator of the overall Enterprise Technology Strategy success.

Projects, Portfolios & Services
Contains capabilities concerning the planning (portfolio management) and building (engineering) of applications and services that are part of the Enterprise Technology Strategy initiative.

Operations, Administration & Management
Contains capabilities concerning the post deployment aspects of solutions based on the Enterprise Technology Strategy i.e. the Operations, Administration, and Management aspects of the Enterprise Technology Strategy.

Contains capabilities concerning the information aspects of the Enterprise Technology Strategy. This includes shared data models, message formats and schemas, data ownership, data management, content management, etc.

Contains capabilities concerning the infrastructure and tools that provide the technical foundation for the Enterprise Technology Strategy initiative.

Contains capabilities concerning the definitions of the overall architecture and guidelines for various practitioners to ensure adherence to the architecture.

As can be seen from the above descriptions of the areas in the maturity model this is a model that is originally created and still dominated from an Enterprise Technology Strategy point of thinking. However, the model itself is very much usable for other self assessment tasks. The areas that have been selected by Oracle are giving a real good representation on a number of key area’s. The difficulty during every initial setup of a maturity model is which key performance indicators will you be including in the main area’s.

For example, if we take the architecture area it states as a description “Contains capabilities concerning the definitions of the overall architecture and guidelines for various practitioners to ensure adherence to the architecture”. The challenging task when building a maturity model is to find the sub parts which will cover this description in measurable KPI’s and giving each KPI a certain weight. When given the appropriate level of thought and the appropriate level of attention throughout the organization the maturity model can become a very valuable tool to be used in ensuring you know where your IT organisation is at this moment and where it needs to be in the future to keep providing the necessary services to the business when they need it.

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