Process maturity is a great measure for how well business processes are structured and performed. The higher the maturity, the greater the performance.
Multiple models exist for making processes more mature, and there are also many ways to assess them. This guide shows how to measure process maturity and use these models to control business processes and ensure better teamwork, process efficiency, and experiences.
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What is process maturity?
Process maturity measures how well an organization defines and controls its processes. A company with a high level of process maturity documents its processes in a clear, standardized, and comprehensive way, allowing employees to understand and follow them accurately and consistently. It also promotes a culture of continuous improvement, which is increasingly important to a business’s long-term survival.
Process maturity is crucial for evaluating the “health” of the business, especially its ability to manage activities that generate value for the company. Well-designed processes also encourage accountability and collaboration, increasing customer satisfaction, resource usage efficiency and product quality.
The 5 process maturity levels
Management experts rate process maturity according to a hierarchical scale. Each level in the scale has the requirements of the level below it, in addition to new requirements.
Each model has its own levels, but they generally describe the progress from completely ad hoc or long-tail processes to fully optimized processes.
The following process maturity levels are some of the most common.
Level 1: Initial
The initial level of process maturity, also known as the ad hoc or chaotic level, has only a minimal focus on processes. Each team member may perform processes differently, as they aren’t well documented or defined. A process’s success often depends on the skill and experience of individual employees at this level.
Level 2: Established
An organization with established, or repeatable, process maturity has processes that produce predictable, consistent, and repeatable results. However, only a few people have inside knowledge of these processes, although others may document them.
Despite the inside knowledge and partial documentation, there is still room for errors or inconsistencies because process knowledge is partially restricted.
Level 3: Defined
A defined process maturity means that processes are standardized and documented across the entire organization. Process knowledge is no longer restricted to individuals, since teams are now cross-functional.
Level 4: Managed
A managed, or measured, process maturity allows companies to assess and analyze processes. They may also benchmark their processes against industry leaders.
Level 5: Optimized
An organization is continuously improving at the optimized process maturity level. It’s also an innovator and leader in processes within its field.
Why monitoring process maturity is important
Process maturity allows organizations to pivot quickly, which is becoming increasingly important to navigate volatile business environments and disruptions. The ability to respond to new opportunities and threats is key to growing a business because broken processes are a common cause of business failures, especially during the last few years.
This problem often occurs when an individual executes a process, rather than a team. The ability for another team member to take over makes process maturity essential in business.
While globalization and rising customer (and employee) expectations have made businesses more competitive, emerging technologies have also created more opportunities for success.
However, new processes can also lead to failure when an organization isn’t ready for them. As a result, monitoring process maturity as it develops can set the foundation for more ambitious strategies.
What is a process maturity model?
Process maturity models describe the stages of a maturing process. They typically have five to seven levels that an organization must achieve a given level before it can proceed to the next stage.
The rate at which this occurs depends on factors such as the specific process and emphasis a company places on improving it. In addition, the maturity levels of processes often differ greatly within the same organization or even department.
Processes can also lose maturity if they’re not being monitored or continuously being improved.
The 7 main process maturity models
Many types of process maturity models are available, with a variety of use cases. For example, some models are designed for general use across different industries, while others are intended for specific fields.
Furthermore, the assessment methods differ greatly in their length and level of detail. The following process maturity models are some of the most popular among modern organizations.
1. Process Maturity Framework (PMF)
The PMF model is one of the first process maturity models. It was created in 1980 as an approach to quality management in software development. Its primary use shifted to Total Quality Management (TQM) during the 1990s, when statistical modeling techniques showed that increasing efficiency and reducing variability led to more mature processes.
2. Capability Maturity Model (CMM)
The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is based on the PMF model and has also been around since 1980. The Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute developed the CMM for the U.S. government, which needed a means of assessing the process management capabilities for its software contractors.
CMM is a framework for improving software development processes that has five maturity levels, with an emphasis on increasing their repeatability.
3. Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)
CMMI is also based on CMM, but it serves functions other than software development. It was initially released in 2002, and the most recent version came out in 2018. This process maturity model is most popular among organizations that need proof of their process maturity, such as government fundraisers.
CMMI certification requires an organization to pass a complex assessment by independent consultants.
The two primary goals of CMMI are stage representation and continuous representation. Staged representation attempts to improve process maturity across all functions and departments, while continuous representation prioritizes processes that are most critical to a company’s success.
4. Business Process Maturity Model (BPMM)
BPMM is an alternative to CMM and CMMI for organizations that need to measure the maturity of their business processes. It focuses on enterprise-wide processes, rather than individual projects.
In particular, this maturity model seeks to improve an organization’s readiness to implement new technology. BPMM assessments may be conducted by either internal employees or external appraisers who specialize in this task. These assessments are based on interviews, process output, and other quantitative data.
The Object Management Group (OMG), a technology standards organization, owns BPMM. It offers certifications in this proprietary model, which requires many conditions. As a result, most organizations will prefer to start their journey towards maturity with an easier model.
BPMM assessments include the following four types:
- Starter appraisal
A starter appraisal is an introductory review of an organization’s compliance with BPMM principals.
- Progress appraisal
A progress appraisal evaluates an organization’s status towards achieving a predetermined maturity level, with an appraisal team that includes at least one member from a supplier.
- Supplier appraisal
A supplier appraisal is similar to a progress appraisal, except it’s specifically for a supplier and has no one from that organization on the appraisal team.
- Confirmatory appraisal
Confirmatory appraisal is a review of processes across an entire organization for a predetermined maturity level.
5. Process and Enterprise Maturity Model (PEMM™)
Dr. Michael Hammer of the Harvard Business School created the PEMM™ in 2006, although its roots lie in his earlier work on process reengineering. He promotes this model as an objective method for testing business processes that doesn’t require experts in process maturity to perform.
This feature is an advantage for organizations that want to assess their own process maturity, which often has more credibility for employees.
In a 2007 Harvard Business Review article, Dr. Hammer described the requirements for a successful business process, which include organizational capabilities and process enablers. Organizational capabilities describe the company’s ability to support process enablers, including culture, expertise, and leadership.
Process enablers are factors that help individual processes succeed, including design, infrastructure, metrics, performance, and process ownership.
6. Seven Tenets
The American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) developed the Seven Tenets model of process management based on its own questionnaire. The APQC’s Seven Tenets are as follows:
- Strategic alignment
Team members must understand their company’s strategic vision and align its processes to support that vision.
Someone is always accountable for each process, and systems are in place to support them.
- Process models
Documentation and resources are available to ensure processes remain consistent across the organization.
- Change management
The company has methods such as communication, engagement and training to help teams focus on processes.
- Performance and maturity
Team members track processes and their maturity across departments.
- Process improvement
The team reviews and updates processes at regular intervals.
- Tools and technology
These resources are available to manage processes and teach employees about them.
7. Process Performance Index (PPI)
Consultants Alan Brache and Geary Rummler created the PPI for use in any industry. It includes a free, online questionnaire that provides organizations with a process health score, along with tips on advancing to the next process maturity level.
This assessment rates organizations according to what they should focus on next, with categories consisting of:
- Process management initiation,
- Process management evolution, and
- Process management mastery.
How to choose and use a process maturity model
The best process maturity model for your organization depends on the areas you most want to improve. The time and money available for this project is also a crucial factor.
Choosing a model generally consists of benchmarking an organization’s processes against the standards for that industry or adjacent industry. This practice places the company’s process performance within an appropriate context and provides examples of how to improve them.
Using a process maturity model typically begins with an assessment to determine the organization’s current maturity level. The next step is to choose the target level, which should be based on the company’s strategic goals and areas of interest.
For example, an automotive manufacturer will probably want to achieve the highest level for the manufacture of critical components like brakes. Finally, the organization must determine the steps needed to reach its target maturity stage.
Benefits of increasing process maturity
The direct benefits of increasing process maturity include greater reliability, better goal setting, and more realistic expectations. These benefits help organizations achieve long-term business goals such as higher customer expectations and increased revenue.
Mature processes have predictable effects, allowing businesses to meet their customer’s expectations. They generally minimize the direct role of humans to minimize the possibility of error.
Enhanced goal setting
Identifying process inefficiencies helps teams set meaningful goals, resulting in better performance for the organization.
Identifying the organization’s current capabilities allows management to set realistic expectations for their customers. This process often consists of keeping expectations low, at least for immature processes. They can then raise expectations as processes become more mature.
How to improve process maturity
Leading by example is the most effective way of improving process maturity, as management must support these changes and keep employees informed of them.
This practice requires consistency, both in praising people when they’re doing something right and criticizing them when they get it wrong. Their direction must also align with what employees are supposed to be doing according to their written procedures.
This approach will give employees a sense of ownership over processes, which is essential to achieving process maturity. An organization must also obtain buy-in from all levels by encouraging input, especially when it’s critical of the current process.
1. Map the business process maturity level
Ensure that the maturity level you’re trying to achieve applies to your organization. This practice may involve designing a questionnaire that assesses the maturity level of each process.
2. Analyze the mapping
Analyze the mapping obtained in Step 1 by assembling a cross-functional team to review the results of the questionnaire. Audits may also be necessary to determine each process’s maturity level. These audits should assess the process’s current maturity level, without regard to its intended rating.
For example, assume that a given process is automated, which would normally entitle it to Level 4 maturity (managed). If that automation isn’t fully deployed, its actual rating could be a Level 3 (defined).
3. Create an action plan for improvements
The analysis in Step 2 will often reveal gaps between a process’s desired maturity level and its current maturity level. In these cases, the next step is to address those gaps.
This requirement involves creating a plan to take the actions needed to achieve the target maturity.
4. Implement the improvements
Implementing the action plan is the most important phase in improving process maturity. These actions typically consist of redefining or redesigning the targeted process, implementing a greater degree of automation and identifying a process’s owner.
5. Track the results
Once you’ve implemented the corrective actions, you must monitor the processes at scheduled intervals to ensure their maturity doesn’t drop. A control plan based on the action plan can help maintain process maturity at the desired level.
Control plans typically include audits, usually a progress or supplier appraisal.
Increase process maturity with Pipefy
Process maturity determines how well an organization controls and defines its processes, which is essential for achieving its business objectives. Process maturity should generally be as high as possible, provided that level is appropriate to the process and organization. Many models are currently available, so you need to choose the best one for your industry.
Many organizations depend on tools like business process management software to improve process maturity. With a BPM solution, analyze process information and centralize, organize, integrate, and standardize processes, workflows, documents, and information — all key elements of improving process maturity.
Pipefy’s no-code process automation platform makes this easier by providing everything you need to manage your organization’s processes from one screen. With online form and process templates, document portals, process automation capabilities, and data analysis features like dashboards, teams have the autonomy to manage business processes and quickly scale improvements.