What Can A Maturity Model Do For You?


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Have you ever asked yourself, what in the earth is the maturity models fuss all about? Maybe one more hard-thought idea from academicians or fancy consultants? Well, you’d better don’t get despair so fast this time. Maturity models have a long standing management and research-oriented record that have helped thousands of small and big-cap businesses to better understand their world and improve over time. So keep on reading and learn what a maturity model can best do for you.

What Is A Maturity Model?

Based on the assumption of predictable improvement and patterns of good practice, maturity models basically represent theories about how organizational capabilities evolve in a stage-by-stage manner along an anticipated, desired, or “logical” maturation path. This is why maturity models are also termed stages-of-growth models, stage models, or stage theories.

Early examples of maturity models include a wide range of well-known models among management practitioners, such as Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs (1954), Kuznets’ economic growth model (1965) and Nolan’s progression of IT in organizations (1970s). These early bird models were the forerunners of numerous maturity models based on a staged sequence of levels.

Independent from certain application domains, maturity models refer today to manifold key managerial dimensions, such as customers, people, processes, as well as organizational capabilities (i.e., repeatable patterns of action in the use of assets).

Typical Purposes of Use for Maturity Models

With maturity models representing theories of stage-based evolution, their basic purpose consists in describing stages and maturation paths. Accordingly, characteristics for each stage and the logical relationship between successive stages are at the core of most maturity models.

As for their application in practice, maturity models disclose current and desirable maturity levels and include respective improvement measures. The intention is to diagnose and eliminate deficient capabilities and to map the way for continuous improvement. As some authors metaphorically refer, maturity models are engines for continuously improving systems, roadmaps for guiding organizations, and blueprints for designing new entities.

Typically, the following are the main application-specific purposes of use:

  • Descriptive: A maturity model serves a descriptive purpose of use if it is applied for “as-is” assessments where the current capabilities of the dimension under investigation are assessed with respect to given criteria. This type of maturity models are frequently used as a diagnostic tool. The maturity level reached by the organization can then be reported to internal and external stakeholders.
  • Prescriptive: A maturity model serves a prescriptive purpose of use if it indicates how to identify desirable maturity levels and provides guidelines on improvement measures. In this case, specific and detailed courses of action are suggested by the model to reach a desired maturity level.
  • Comparative: A maturity model serves a comparative purpose of use if it allows for internal or external benchmarking among organizations. Given sufficient historical data from a large number of assessment participants, the maturity levels of similar business units and organizations can be compared.
  • Holistic: A maturity model serves a holistic purpose if it integrates the descriptive, prescriptive and comparative purposes of use into a single improvement framework.


Since the Software Engineering Institute launched the Capability Maturity Model almost twenty years ago, the application of maturity models is increasing in quantity and breadth. Hundreds of maturity models have been proposed by researchers and practitioners across multiple application domains. Moreover, with process orientation being a central paradigm of organizational design and continuous process improvement taking top positions on CXO agendas, maturity models are also thriving within business process management.

Based on the assumption of predictable patterns of evolution and change, maturity models include a sequence of levels (or stages) that together form an anticipated, desired, and logical path from an initial state to maturity. In this regard, maturity levels indicate an organization’s current (or desirable) capabilities as regards a specific dimension.

Given that maturity models are tools that can be applied to assess the as-is situation, to derive and prioritize improvement measures, and to control progress, the value they can deliver for your organization is significant. Now it’s up to you to choose the customer-centered maturity model that best fits your needs and goals.

Republished with author’s permission from original post.

Francisco J Navarro
Francisco J Navarro is Founder and Author of "Smart Customer Management" a management framework to building successful and profitable customer-centered organizations.


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