Thinking in Terms of Design Decisions When Developing Maturity Models

Thinking in Terms of Design Decisions When Developing Maturity Models

Tobias Mettler (University of St. Gallen, Switzerland)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/jsds.2010100105
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To measure dedicated aspects of “maturity”, a range of maturity models have been developed in the field of information systems by practitioners and academics over the past years. Despite its broad proliferation, the concept has not escaped criticism. Unnecessary bureaucracy, poor theoretical foundation, and the impression of a falsified certainty to achieve success are a few examples. As there is a significant lack of knowledge on how to design theoretically sound and widely accepted maturity models, in this paper, the author opens the discussion on design decisions when developing these models. Based on analogy and informed arguments, the author synthesizes a generic but adjuvant framework that consists of five common design steps and eighteen decision parameters that help practitioners as well as researchers in the development of maturity models.
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Foundation And Criticism On Maturity Models

As described above, the purpose of maturity models is to give guidance through an evolutionary process by incorporating formality into the promising improvement activities. According to Fraser et al., all maturity models share the common property of defining a number of dimensions at several stages of maturity, with a description of characteristic performance at various levels of granularity (Fraser et al., 2002). Basic elements of maturity models are a number of levels (typically three to six), a descriptor for each level (such as the CMM’s differentiation between initial, repeatable, defined, managed, and optimizing processes), a generic description or summary of the characteristics of each level as a whole, a number of dimensions (such as the ‘process areas’ in CMM), a number of elements or activities for each dimension, and a description of each element or activity as it might be performed at each level of maturity.

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