The Five Levels of Enterprise Technology (ET) Process Maturity

In  Three Options to Help CIOs Fund Digital Transformation, I discuss how CIOs and their staffs can improve IT productivity and find budget to fund transformational initiatives like digital transformation by digitally transforming their enterprise technology (ET) management processes — those process that touch the entire technology portfolio deployed by the overall company. Today, these processes are typically implemented through manual workflows. 

As a step to discussing how to do this, I’d like to share an example enterprise technology process and then discuss a simple five level model for evaluating the maturity of existing ET processes.

Rating ET Process Maturity

For most incumbent companies of reasonable size, the ET process landscape is inherently complex, as technology impacts nearly every operational process, from purchasing and keeping data and employees secure to maximizing the value attained from the technology purchases.

Figure 1: Example employee offboarding process

Take the routine process of secure offboarding an employee as an example — from employee termination set to all access revoked and company-issued technology returned. This separation-to-recovery process might be described with the following steps, as shown in Figure 1:

  • Separate: Terminate employment in HR system such as Workday; notify IT, HR, finance, legal and other functional stakeholders of the change in employee status; handle for voluntary or involuntary separation
  • Deprovision: Lock corporate laptops and mobile devices; revoke access to endpoints, network, infrastructure (cloud) and SaaS/on-premises applications such as Salesforce, Microsoft 365 and SAP; cover access within and outside the purview of single sign-on (SSO); preserve employee’s previously accessed data and workspaces
  • Reassign: Transfer ownership of and access to documents, data, cloud resources and other work product to others; set up mail forwarding and auto-replies; delete recurring calendar invites
  •  Recover: Initiate returns of corporate devices and accessories; reclaim cloud resources and return application licenses to entitlements pool; enforce legal hold and data preservation requirements
  • Reallocate: As appropriate, reimage and return employee-issued devices back into inventory
  • End of Life: As appropriate, sanitize and wipe devices; destroy, donate or recycle; store certification of destruction; update financial audit manual and financial systems for audit readiness

Using the eye test, a complete employee offboarding process is complicated, touching many organizations and technologies. Partially because of this complexity, this process is often implemented through multiple workflows that contain many manual tasks and require different personnel to use different, siloed technology management tools. This approach is inherently more expensive and more prone to human error than if the tasks were automated across the IT management tools.

The Five Levels of ET Process Maturity

As a step to enabling the assessment of how mature individual ET processes are it can be helpful to have a maturity framework in hand, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Five Levels of ET Process Maturity

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For instance, at the lowest level of maturity, a business has no process defined and the work is being done ad hoc, reacting to issues and likely following steps stored in an employee’s head — an employee who someday may leave for greener pastures.

On the other end of the maturity spectrum, a process is not only fully automated but also optimized to run as efficiently as possible. A process at this level of maturity is likely automated and proactively predicting situations so actions can be taken before an issue negatively impacts business outcomes or user experiences.

This said, the five levels of ET process maturity are as follows:

  • Level 1: No Process – The process is undefined. Work is done completely manually, is ad hoc and reactive. This is the most inefficient state, so Level 1 gets a bad rating.
  • Level 2: Described – The process is described but implemented manually. Manual processes are inherently inefficient, so Level 2 gets a poor rating, as completely manual processes in general are more expensive and take more time than letting computers do the work through automation.
  • Level 3: Partially Automated – The process utilizes automation to make it more efficient, but still depends on manual intervention to complete. Because some level of automation is involved, Level 3 gets a fair rating.
  • Level 4: Fully Automated – The process is completely automated and completion time is measured. Given the process requires no inefficient manual intervention, Level 4 receives a good rating. 
  • Level 5: Continuously Optimized – The process uses data to optimize and continuously improve its activities. It is executed, monitored, and managed through dynamic workflows, making decisions based on output from automated tasks, adapting to changing circumstances and conditions, and simultaneously coordinating multiple tasks. Level 5 receives an excellent rating, as processes at this level are running as efficiently and securely as possible.

In my Amazon bestselling book The Next CIO, I argue that the industry needs a new category of application called Enterprise Technology Management (ETM) that would help IT improve the maturity of their ET processes.

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