Process Maturity: Is Gartner wrong?

Nick Malik on the Inside Architecture blog posts a musing on the nature of Process Maturity. His contention is that the Gartner Maturity model is predicated on the fact that you need to measure where you are in order to get from one level to the next. "This makes sense", you think.

But Nick is saying "What's the business driver to measure processes capability when the reason we're doing this is to improve our business?" Surely a company should focus on improving how they do things rather than focusing on measuring how good they are at managing processes? Once they start to get improvement in their business process they should start to look at how well they are managing their processes. This will then lead them onto the next maturity level etc. etc. etc.

Good contention, Nick. I'm with you for a large part of the way. I think where the argument falls down is in the details. Sure, I can give Visio ("The Devils Tool") to a bunch of users and get them looking at how they do things with a view to making them better, but in the long term is this the best way to build a process management capability?

In my mind the Maturity Model is linked in with the level of sophistication a business has in the capability of process modeling. If I give the wrong tools to the wrong users who use the wrong methodologies then my processes aren't going to get much better. This is where a maturity model comes in.

Having said that I am 100% behind Nick when he says "The only thing more dangerous than measuring nothing: measuring the wrong thing" I wholeheartedly agree and refer you to Comerford's Three Laws of Metrics as examples.

Back in the days when I ran a European business process shop for a US Multinational, they seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to benchmark themselves against other folks. This used a great deal of the Maturity Model concept. But like Nick says it missed the fundamental point of 'Are we actually doing any process modeling that is adding value to the business?' At that point the answer was 'probably not'. I'm not sure where that organisation is now, but I suspect they are still as concerned about knowing where they fit against competitors than how well their processes actually work.

An interesting read. Well worth a few moments of your time.

(Photo courtesy Bettyspics)

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