Demystifying Maturity Models: Their Significance in Measuring Business Success

The maturity curve is a key asset for companies to measure their success and progress. Learn about the many models available and how they're implemented.

May 31, 2023


Numerous maturity models have emerged in the last decades. And with so many options available, choosing the right one for your business can be difficult. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

In today’s post, we’ll explore everything you need to know about the maturity curve and available maturity models, including: 

  • What is the maturity curve?
  • Why moving up in the maturity curve matters
  • Existing maturity models & how they work
  • Maturity models limitations

Without further ado, let's dive in.

What is a Maturity Curve?

In essence, the maturity curve is a metric that indicates how efficient an organization's processes are. 

When a company is just starting out, it’s usually at a low maturity stage. This low maturity is characterized by: 

  • Tasks depending on specific team members.
  • Processes developed ad hoc based on the need or urgency of the moment.
  • Not everyone having specific knowledge about tasks and processes 
  • There are no objective parameters to promote process improvement.

As organizations grow, they need to improve their processes to become sustainable. In other words, they need to move up the maturity curve. 

But how do you measure your company’s maturity? Well, there are several models developed by experts and scholars. All you have to do is choose one that suits your company’s specific traits and implement it. Maturity models will not only show you how to reach maturity but also allow you to compare your organization to others.

Why Moving Up in the Maturity Curve Matters 

As a general rule, the maturity of a company's processes determines its ability to adapt to changes quickly. 

Thus, by attaining process maturity, a company can: 

  • Address unforeseen challenges
  • Capitalize on emerging opportunities 
  • Maintain a competitive edge among clients and investors

This flexibility is essential for long-term sustainability and business growth. But nowadays, the uncertain economic environment makes maturity even more crucial. 

All in all, the current economic context requires clear and optimized processes to ensure that companies respond quickly to sudden changes and optimize productivity. And this is only possible with standardized and documented processes

Maturity Models & How They Work 

A maturity model allows companies to compare their current processes with their ideal ones. Generally, they are divided into steps or stages of maturity. Each stage has distinctive qualities that, once achieved, allow the organization to advance to the next stage. 

Models can be applied to specific processes or organizations as a whole. Moreover, companies can implement some of these models themselves, and others require consultants, such as models established by ISO.

There are several standard models to measure the maturity of an organization. The most popular ones are: 

  • Capability Maturity Model (CMM)
  • Process and Enterprise Maturity Model (PEMM)
  • Business Process Maturity Model (BPMM)

Let’s take a closer look. 

Capability Maturity Model (CMM)

CMM was developed in the 1980s and was originally designed to evaluate the processes of software companies. Nevertheless, it can be used by companies in any sector, including finance and health care. 

This model has five stages to describe the maturity curve of an organization: 

  1. Initial: Processes are ad hoc and uncontrolled. Mostly, success relies on individual efforts and can’t be replicated due to poorly defined processes.
  2. Repeatable: Tasks begin to be repetitive and it’s possible to find common patterns. Necessary processes are established, defined, and documented. Plus, basic project management techniques are in place, allowing repeatable successes in key areas.
  3. Defined: The organization has clearly defined processes. This enables better documentation, standardization, and integration.
  4. Managed: Organizations have quality and productivity metrics to measure success.
  5. Optimizing: A variety of tools are available to help evaluate processes and continuously optimize them.  

Organizations must perform a series of tasks to achieve each stage of the model. The CMM model estimates that an organization should be able to reach each stage of maturity in about 18 months. 

Process and Enterprise Maturity Model (PEMM)

PEMM is a model created by Dr. Michael Hammer and was originally introduced in Harvard Business Review in April 2007. PEMM was designed so that companies can implement it without the help of consultants or experts.

According to this model, the maturity of an organization is achieved through two requirements: 

  • Process enablers: These are elements and tools that facilitate the standardization of processes and tasks. Some examples include process ownership, infrastructure, and metrics. 
  • Organizational capabilities: These are soft skills that establish a context where process enablers can be effortlessly implemented. Some examples include leadership, culture, expertise, and governance.

To check that an organization has these two attributes, Hammer offers a comprehensive checklist. That way, you can evaluate the maturity level of your organization or a specific process for yourself. 

Furthermore, the PEMM maturity curve has four progressive stages:

  • E1: There are unclear processes in the organization, and the leadership and teams are not fully aware of their importance.
  • E2: Senior management begins to take steps to promote process maturity. 
  • E3: All the company's teams begin to document, organize and standardize processes and knowledge.
  • E4: Leadership, culture, expertise, and governance are aligned and standardized with a focus on continuous improvement.

Overall, PEMM offers a comprehensive approach to help companies achieve maturity on their own. 

Business Process Maturity Model (BPMM)

The Business Process Maturity Model also allows companies to self-assess the effectiveness of their processes.

BPMM involves five phases of maturity:

  1. Initial: Team members just overcome challenges and complete their tasks.
  2. Managed: The organization could develop repeatable practices, minimize rework and meet commitments.
  3. Standardized: At this stage, companies standardize business processes, metrics, and training for their products and services.
  4. Predictable: The company has stable processes, knowledge management, scalable practices, and predictable results.
  5. Innovating: Companies are focused on innovation in all areas.

Maturity Models Limitations: Available Models Don’t Have All the Answers Yet

All these models sound great. And actually, they are quite successful, as many companies use them to measure their maturity curves. However, they have some limitations.

The main issues with current models is that they: 

  • Can be very theoretical and abstract.
  • Are designed by a group of specialists far from the teams that do the day-to-day work.
  • Are prescriptive so they indicate how organizations should be, but they don’t provide actionable insights on how to achieve those steps.
  • Are models, so they are not perfectly and completely achievable. 

No model is perfect. Therefore, you should select the one that best aligns with your company's culture, needs, and unique traits. In fact, you can even take attributes from each existing model and use them to create your own. 

Whatever model you choose or even if you design your own, we can say that any reliable maturity model should include: 

  • Process documentation
  • Repeating successful dynamics continually
  • Establishing metrics to evaluate processes
  • Implementing innovation based on metrics

Nevertheless, you shouldn't get discouraged if goals aren't fully met as the model suggests. At the end of the day it’s just a model.

Move Up in the Maturity Curve With Cledara 

At a time of enterprises’ digital transformation, companies often use software to help them move up the maturity curve. Ultimately, the right tools can help you automate processes, optimize operations, and get real-time analytics. 

However, software subscriptions can easily pile up if they’re not properly monitored. In fact, software has become the second biggest expense in all companies nowadays. But luckily, this can be easily managed with a comprehensive SaaS management platform. This is where Cledara comes in.  

With Cledara you can:

  • Get a centralized view of all your software subscriptions.
  • Find out which apps your employees don't use, or don’t use enough.
  • Identify what tools deliver the most value to your processes.
  • Make sure everyone has access to the tools they need.
  • Prevent shadow IT.
  • Standardize processes by making sure everyone is using the proper tools.
  • Get 2% cash back on every tool subscription.

Curious? Book a Cledara demo today.

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