Using a Maturity Model


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Why use one?

Maturity models help to assess where you or a business is on a maturity scale or journey towards some desirable state. They incorporate a number of dimensions which can probe your level of skill, experience, readiness and capability by listing the critical areas and citing levels of achievement or capability in each of those at a given level of maturity. 

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We can use them to compare ourselves to others in a given industry or situation, to identify our own strengths and weaknesses and to contemplate how to improve our capabilities. 

Another benefit of using these kinds of models is to stimulate discussion, surface issues and get participants on the same page as we plan our actions.

They often incorporate considerable expert knowledge and are relatively quick to use.This allows them to add considerable value with limited effort and cost. 

What do they look like?

Typical maturity models are represented as tables with columns for the increasing levels of maturity and rows for the areas of concern / capability. In each cell they list the characteristics of that capability at the relative level of maturity. 

How do I use it?

To use the model, proceed as follows:

  • First understand what the model is about, what it purports to measure and who it is for

  • Scan the columns to understand the maturity levels and how they increase from left to right

  • Work down through the rows. For each row:

    • Work across the cells to the right

    • Read the description in the cell carefully

    • Consider if your organisation is at that level / resonates with it completely OR is not there yet OR has definitely moved past that point

    • Keep moving right until you find a cell that you agree with, followed by one that you feel is beyond your current level

    • The left hand of the cells above is your current level of maturity

    • Mark your maturity level and then move to the next row…

  • When you have marked all rows, you will typically have a zig zag pattern down the table. The average of this could be said to be your overall level of maturity (column in the centre of the plot)

  • Look carefully at the statement you chose as the one representing you / your organisation in each row. Now look at the one to its right. Consider what you will need to do to move from the current state to the next higher level of maturity. This should be in your plans to improve your capabilities and performance towards greater maturity. 

  • Items that have a lower than overall maturity should be prioritised for urgent attention, while those that are more towards the desired level may be tackled later

Some frameworks will provide guidance in moving from one level to the next. This can be very valuable. Some formal frameworks may even offer professional assessments and certification at different levels of maturity (the best known of these is probably the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Maturity Model).


A Few FAQs

  • What if we are not at the same level in different parts of the organisation?

    • That is quite common. Mark the range across the cells from lowest to highest

    • Make sure the good practices, skills, experience and knowledge are spread from the high performing areas to the low performing ones

    • Alternately, focus on a specific area / business unit at a time. Prepare separate plans for each

  • Can we be at multiple levels? On a single row…?

    • Yes, sort of, but pick the one that resonates the most

    • Keep notes of your differences from the perspective in the model, you can use these to refine your responses and planning

  • How can we communicate this quickly?

    • One way is to colour code the scores / cells into a “heat map”. If you are below par in a row, mark it red, average, mark it yellow, above, mark it green

  • What if we think there is an important dimension the model doesn’t reflect?

    • First check. It may be there hidden in another topic or with different terminology

    • If not, and it is really important, then extend the model by adding a row and suitable descriptions. Consult experts if necessary

    • Exclude your additional row from any calculations where you are benchmarking against others in your industry / situation using an industry standard model


An interactive online version of our tool is now available. Is your organisation prepared for the New Normal? Generate a Pandemic Readiness maturity report for your organisation quickly and easily.

Get Started