There are various characteristics that indicate a successful relationship between two businesses, and usually it is a bit more complex than simply liking the owner or representative one deals with. Often there is an exchange of goods or services for currency, which essentially is simply a mutual benefit that is exchanged. Finding a company that sell the widgets one’s company needs to operate is one thing, and relatively easy; finding a company that sells those widgets well—and well-enough to match the needs of one’s business—can be quite another.
You may be asking, “But how would we measure this? And what the heck are you talking about anyway?”
I’m talking about operational maturity. This is a relatively new concept in the centuries old world of organized business, but many owners, C-level executives, and managers will be familiar with the concept. Gaining prominence over the last several decades, the general idea of a maturity model is an attempt to apply a metric to a business’s response to stresses and, in turn, its ability to grow and operate efficiently.
There are many models that work with this concept. As well, many models can be applied to varying portions of a company. While I will focus primarily on IT in this article, rest assured a maturity model can be applied to almost all aspects of most businesses (and likely have been…after all, those C-level execs need something to do!)
A Look at Operational Maturity Models
Many models exist to attempt to measure operational maturity. In most ways they are very similar; however, they may vary in specifics due to targeted industry.
IOP Model – Published by the Institute of Physics, this model has four levels: Reactive – indicated by basic knowledge and poor to low improvement initiatives; Proactive—indicated by greater knowledge, to include business knowledge and improved processes; Service—indicated by knowledge of customer processes and increased business alignments; and Value—indicated by a linkage between business knowledge and processes, future modeling, and strategic partnerships.
IBM Model—IBM follows a similar roadmap with slightly different metrics. Their levels are defined by Initial, Managed, Defined, Quantitatively Managed, and Optimizing. These are a bit more general than the IOP model, but generally grow from no standards and inconsistency at the Initial level to continuous improvement at the Optimizing level.
Of note, the CERT Resilience Management Model, also commonly called CERT-RMM, offers a deep dive into asset development, process development, and mission completion in looking at maturity. While too broad for the scope of this article, it is a good read to those interested and I did want to include it.
For the remainder of the article, I will generally refer to the IOP model.
In many ways, your IT hardware and software sophistication should mirror the level of maturity you reach as a company. While this is admittedly a generalization, very often companies become more efficient by automating tasks that can be sufficiently performed my machines. In the age of the processor, this encompasses many tasks indeed.
However, someone needs to keep these machines running. If a business was building race cars, top tier mechanics would need to either be a part of the team or would need to be brought in. Bringing in hobbyists or those with insufficient technical knowledge would be unheard of…so why do we see this so often with IT?
Your business, unless it is new or undergoing drastic change, ideally operates under a relatively mature model. (And if not, we urge you to make the needed changes!) Unfortunately, not all IT companies are the same. Indeed, there are many that operate as a break/fix company, which the IOP model would deem “reactive”. Indeed, these companies are basically only useful after something breaks and is costing a business time, productivity, and money. (Of note, some models actually classify a level lower than “reactive”, often labelled as “chaotic” or “initial”. I omit them here, as dealing with these companies is quickly evident and should be avoided for obvious reasons.)
Most businesses should strive to operate with an IT services provider that is at least as far along on the maturity model as they are. In most cases, this falls under “Service” or “Value” using the IOP model. With MSPs, this requires a marriage of technical know-how and business acumen. An MSP operating on a high maturity model will serve as a virtual CIO in many ways—fixing technical computer issues, yes, but also planning for upcoming trends, guarding against bad actors, and providing valuable business insight to allow technology to work best, and most profitably, for your business.
Is your MSP falling short? CONTACT US and we’ll get you squared away!