Take a self-guided IT maturity assessment

Compare the progressive stages of IT maturity against your organization's use of documentation, goal orientation and automation; then discover areas for improvement.

A complete IT maturity assessment is notoriously difficult, yet essential to better operations.

IT processes -- based on automation, orchestration and monitoring -- ensure faster, more accurate and consistent service delivery. If an IT organization forges ahead carelessly, oversights or missing elements will cause IT processes to falter. IT maturity states grow from reactive through repeatable and defined to managed and finally optimized.

There is no single measure of IT maturity, and there can be significant variations between each general level. Some IT processes may be more mature than others within one organization. This IT maturity assessment test gives teams a quick analysis of process maturity. Perhaps it will spark some useful ideas for constructive improvements to fill gaps.

In each following section, check a box when it relates to your IT organization and then add up the number of checks given for each level. The level that receives the most checks approximates your current level of IT maturity. Any checks in these earlier sections suggest areas of improvement. Checks in the later sections indicate that the IT organization is reaching toward high maturity. If the results are flat or spread out across levels, the organization simply isn't focused on IT maturity -- assume the lowest level and work up from there.

Low IT maturity in reactive ops

Reactive IT Person

A reactive or initial level offers virtually no process maturity, even though the business may realize that process is important. IT activities are typically disorganized and unpredictable, causing inconsistent results that rarely satisfy business needs or customer expectations.

Check all that apply in your organization:

 The business has no formal IT processes or functions in place.

 There is no commitment to IT processes from business management.

 IT activities only occur in response to external requests or issues.

 IT policies and procedures lack documentation.

 There is no internal IT process or function training.

 IT procedures are implemented manually.

 IT activities vary depending on who performs them.

 The business does not measure IT performance via defined metrics.

 There are few records of IT activities or results, with no procedure for improvement.

 Customer and business results are not measured.

 IT errors or oversights occur without being addressed or corrected.

 No feedback about IT performance is shared.

Active IT processes yield repeatability

Active IT Person

The basics of IT maturity stem from repeatable activities and processes. This brings a modicum of process consistency. With multiple IT staff members performing the same tasks in different ways, it still allows for substantial, time-consuming errors.

Check all that apply in your organization:

 Basic IT processes and functions are defined.

 IT process maturity is part of the business plan.

 The IT team tries to coordinate tasks, with recognized dependencies between distinct IT activities.

 Staff members sometimes have documentation for established IT policies or procedures.

 New staff members receive some IT process or function training, without follow-up.

 Some IT procedures are automated and possibly orchestrated.

 Procedures guide some IT activities, but different team members take different approaches.

 Elementary metrics track IT performance.

 IT maintains limited records of activities and/or results to improve upon.

 The highest-priority activities take into account customer and business results.

 Serious IT errors or oversights are corrected as needed.

 The organization receives some feedback about performance.

Proactive organizations rely on defined processes

Proactive IT Person

Proactive IT processes are a team effort, with business and IT collaborating to define and document procedures and functions. Formalized training ensures consistency within the IT organization.

At this level of IT maturity, documented processes are typically general or basic, allowing for some process variations. Proactive organizations achieve better results than reactive ones because everyone follows the same procedures the same way, and knows how to address issues. A central owner, such as the IT manager, presides over these processes, and the business allocates resources to develop more efficient and reliable IT processes.

Check all that apply in your organization:

 Nothing is ad hoc; IT processes or functions exist to address almost all issues.

 Business management makes visible and apparent commitments to IT.

 IT activities are well coordinated with recognized and documented dependencies.

 Comprehensive and change-controlled documentation exists for established IT policies and/or procedures.

 New IT staff members receive initial and follow-up training.

 IT procedures are commonly automated and orchestrated.

 Procedures guide all IT activities, lending little variation to results.

 The organization tracks a range of metrics to measure IT performance.

 IT activities and results are recorded with improvement procedures implemented as needed.

 Routine IT activities are predictable and typically geared toward customer or business results.

 Most IT errors or oversights are addressed or corrected according to set policies.

 The organization actively seeks feedback and uses it to improve IT maturity.

Preemptive IT management enforces best practices

Preemptive IT Person

Once an IT organization reaches a level of managed process maturity, it works as a preemptive problem solver, with codified services and fully defined and documented processes. IT typically aligns well with business goals. Agreed-upon metrics are tracked via monitoring to ensure best practices are implemented and to accelerate issue identification, prioritization and resolution. The IT organization knows when processes adhere to business compliance requirements and identifies and modifies poor processes. The IT toolkit includes automation and orchestration.

Check all that apply in your organization:

 IT processes or functions address the vast majority of issues appropriately.

 The organization actively plans ahead to guard against service disruptions.

 All IT activities are highly consistent, with rare exception.

 The IT staff uses a consistent documentation template that is protected from unauthorized change.

 Training includes both introductory and comprehensive refresher coverage.

 The organization automates and orchestrates every suitable IT process and procedure.

 Leadership continuously monitors and measures IT performance and staff skill levels.

 Training, automation and tracked metrics virtually guarantee consistent results regardless of the individual performing an IT task.

 IT activities are regularly reviewed for efficiency and effectiveness.

 Most IT focus is on customer or business results rather than technologies or equipment.

 Almost no IT errors or oversights occur, and the IT team addresses issues according to policy.

 Process owners conduct regular reviews with stakeholders to improve activities and governance.

The pinnacle of IT maturity

Pinnacle IT Person

An optimized IT shop automates and orchestrates every major practice and workflow. It ensures the best possible results via continuous monitoring, evaluation and improvement. Extensive training allows IT pros to perform tasks interchangeably. The organization can adapt quickly to changing business goals and IT needs. Processes also involve a strategic element matched to business goals.

Check all that apply in your organization:

 IT processes occur in line with management control, corporate governance and business leadership.

 IT planning is fully integrated with business plans and actions.

 All IT activities adhere to best practices and good business governance.

 The organization retains and analyzes performance documentation over time to spot service trends and opportunities for improvement.

 Training is ample and ongoing for all IT staff.

 The IT organization routinely audits processes and procedures for efficiency and business effect.

 Orchestration and automation span the business and supply chain to include outside partners.

 The company monitors metrics to track the quality and effectiveness of IT processes against business outcomes and stakeholder requirements.

 The IT staff actively pursues, prioritizes and deploys process improvements that enhance business and service value.

 All IT focus is directed toward customer or business outcomes.

 Redundant, unnecessary or obsolete processes are identified and eliminated.

 Process assessments and improvements are introduced across the entire organization to achieve consistency and efficiency.

Gauge the IT organization's maturity level

IT maturity assessment is a difficult game to play. There is no single objective measure for an organization, and experienced professional consultants typically administer formal IT maturity tests. This general self-assessment checklist, based primarily on ITIL, offers only a simple thumbnail view of the current situation, helping contextualize how IT processes mature from nonexistent to comprehensive.

Each increase in maturity level typically means a far greater increase in difficulty and investment than the previous level. For example, it is easier to automate a few key activities using scripts than to deploy a comprehensive orchestration tool. In turn, it will be much more difficult to transform the organization to streamline and standardize workflows. Few organizations are ever fully optimized, but that's the ideal scenario.

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