In today’s business climate it is imperative that the IT Service Provider not only understand what the business strategy is, but be able to initiate and deliver services that not only support it, but help to shape it. This can be successfully accomplished by ensuring that the service portfolio remain aligned to the business needs. Over time these requirements and demand for services change and mature. The Business / Provider Relationship is integral in keeping the demand and supply of these services and capabilities appropriately and continuously aligned. One of the tools engaged for this task is the “Business-Provider Maturity Model”.
The Business-Provider Maturity Model is a way to help surface and understand the growth in maturity of business demand for Provider services and capabilities, and a Provider organization’s maturity of supply capabilities needed to both satisfy and shape that demand. Many maturity assessments are very IT centric assessing the ability of the Service Provider to satisfy demand from the business. The key difference here is that we also need to understand the businesses ability in being able to exploit the IT Service Providers capabilities to enhance the business strategy. It is a means of driving dialog about business demand and Provider maturity and how these elements continue to mature and grow. The model can be used for the entire enterprise or for a particular business unit or Provider capability.
In its simplest form, the model is an S-shaped learning curve—the business learning to exploit technology and the Provider organization learning to become efficient and effective in delivering services and, especially as maturity increases, shaping business demand. Business executives find the model’s simplicity appealing. They can easily interpret the concepts behind business demand maturity and are able to use the model to analyze how their demand maturity is evolving over time. This enables them to engage in meaningful dialogue with Provider leadership about the business implications of both demand and supply maturity. In most cases a basic three level model is utilized, however the number of levels is arbitrary. In some cases a 5-level model can be engaged, which can be useful because it represents a finer-grained approach.
To the left of the S-curve are the characteristics of business demand at each of 3 the levels. To the right are the corresponding goals of Provider supply. It is important to understand this is a developmental model. That means it is cumulative. The demand at lower levels never goes away, the business always wants the lights kept on. A Service Provider that fails to supply against this demand will lack credibility and the capability to move up the maturity curve. As business demand matures to Level 2, Level 1 demand does not go away, it becomes a fundamental expectation.
Level 1 business demand is typically generated from functional and geographic silos which means it is often fragmented. This can be frustrating for the Service Provider, who are able to look across the enterprise and see many opportunities for cross functional processes and collaboration, but are often unable to communicate these concepts.
Level 1 demand is to provide basic services and solutions while ensuring stabilized operations and support, with an overarching goal of reducing the costs of doing business.
Level 2 demand, which continues to include Level 1 demand, focuses on enabling business partnerships, enterprise integration and consolidation of management information. Level 2 supply is focused on establishing common infrastructure and management information enterprise solutions. Level 2 supply also focuses on building credibility, improved service/ solution delivery, with attention to portfolio management, service management and getting faster at delivering solutions.
Level 3 demand, which now includes Level 1, 2 and 3 demand, addresses strategic and technology capabilities, which enable the convergence of business and IT capabilities which in turn enable business growth and innovation. It tends to be much more externally focused than Level 1 and 2, interested in business intelligence, rapid experimentation and collaboration with other business units, customers and suppliers.