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The ITIL Maturity Model

Guest Host Post by Mark S. Blanke, originally posted on Owlpoint Insights, July 27, 2021


Most organizations, especially service management organizations, strive to improve themselves. For those of us leveraging the ITIL® best practices, continual improvement is part of our DNA. We are constantly evaluating our organizations and looking for ways to improve. To aid in our improvement goals and underscore one of the major components of the ITIL Service Value System, Continual Improvement. AXELOS has updated the ITIL Maturity Model and is offering new ITIL Assessment services. This will enable organizations to conduct evaluations and establish baselines to facilitate a continual improvement program.

A while back I wrote an article on the importance of conducting an assessment. I explained the need to understand where you are before you can achieve your improvement goals. Understanding where you are deficient, how significant gaps are from your maturity objectives, and prioritizing which areas to focus on first are key to successfully improving.

One method many organizations use to improve themselves is to evaluate their organization against a maturity model and establish a baseline. A maturity model is a reference to a sequential set of capabilities that demonstrates how well an organization is achieving a certain set of practices and capabilities. 

As it relates to ITIL there has been an ITIL maturity model based on the ITIL 2011 edition of best practice guidance. There have been two versions: a self-assessment version, and a comprehensive version used by AXELOS Consulting Partner organizations to provide comprehensive assessments.

AXELOS recently announced that they are releasing a new version of the ITIL Maturity Model that addresses the ITIL 4 best practices.

About the New ITIL Maturity Model

The ITIL Maturity Model is a tool that organizations can use to objectively and comprehensively assess their service management capabilities and the maturity of the organization’s Service Value System (SVS).

The primary intended purpose of such assessments is to inform the organization’s improvement planning by highlighting the areas which need improvement. The Assessment should be aligned with the organizational goals and the scope be established accordingly.

The new reference Model and related ITIL Assessment will be released in later September or early October 2021.

Capability and or Maturity 

The ITIL Maturity Model has two major elements: The Maturity Criteria for the five ITIL Service Value System components and the Capability Criteria for all 34 ITIL 4 Practices.
  • A Capability rating represents what the organization can do to manage services
  • A Maturity rating represents how well the organization is governed and managed
The Maturity and Capability Model is leveraged to facilitate the completion of 3 types of ITIL Assessments
  • A Comprehensive Assessment – This includes the evaluation of 7 or more practices as well as the components of the ITIL Service Value System.
  • A Capability Assessment – This includes the assessment of selected practices but does not include the SVS components
  • A Maturity Assessment – This review SVS components and up to 6 practices
Depending on the type of assessment being conducted for an organization, either the maturity of the Service Value System along with the capability of a set of practices will be evaluated or just a few practices will be evaluated.

Maturity Criteria

Maturity criteria are defined for each of the five components of the ITIL SVS and roll up to an overall Maturity score. It should be noted that the assessment of the maturity of ‘Practices’ and ‘Continual Improvement’ components is based on the outputs of the capability assessment and therefore all maturity assessments include at least 1 practice along with the Continual Improvement practice.

It is recommended to assess both capability and maturity, but it is possible to assess only one (stay tuned).

Capability Criteria

Capability criteria are defined for every management practice (all 34 ITIL 4 Practices). The criteria are based upon the Practice Success Factors defined within the published ITIL 4 Practice Guides for each practice and mapped to the four dimensions of service management. The higher the capability level, the more likely the fulfillment of the practice’s purpose. The organization, formalization, and management of the practices are not assessed with the capability criteria. This would be part of the governance of practices and therefore assessed as part of the Service Value System maturity.

As defined in the associated practice guide for each practice, there are between 2 and 4 Practice Success Factors (PSFs). These are the activities that are required for it to fulfill a practice’s purpose.

Each practice’s Capability Criteria is mapped to a PSF and one of the dimensions in the 4 dimensions of service management. Capability Criteria are grouped by level.

Capability Levels

The ITIL Maturity Model defines the following capability levels:

  • Level 0: The practice lacks any basic capability; its purpose is not achieved
  • Level 1: The practice is not well organized; it’s performed as initial/intuitive. It may occasionally or partially achieve its purpose through an incomplete set of activities
  • Level 2: The practice systematically achieves its purpose through a basic set of activities supported by specialized resources
  • Level 3: The practice is well defined and achieves its purpose in an organized way, using dedicated resources and relying on inputs from other practices that are integrated into a service management system
  • Level 4: The practice achieves its purpose in a highly organized way, and its performance is continually measured and assessed in the context of the service management system
  • Level 5: The practice is continually improving organizational capabilities associated with its purpose

Identifying The Capability Level

To achieve a certain capability level the following rules are applied:
  • No criteria are mapped to the capability levels 0 and 1. Assessment starts at level 2
  • The overall practice’s capability level is assessed as 2 if all level 2 criteria are met
  • If more than half of them are met, the overall capability level is assessed as 1
  • If less than half of the level 2 criteria are met, the overall capability level is not assigned (0 for calculations and reporting purposes)
  • When all criteria of level 2 are met, the level 3 criteria can be assessed, and so on
  • Only when all criteria of the assessed level are met, the level is considered achieved

Maturity Levels

The ITIL Maturity Model defines the following maturity levels:
  • Level 1, Initial: Work is completed, but the purpose and objectives of the SVS in scope are not always achieved
  • Level 2, Managed: Planning and performance measurement take place, and the purpose and objectives of the SVS in scope are repeatedly achieved, although not in a standardized way
  • Level 3, Defined: Organization-wide standards provide guidance across the SVS
  • Level 4, Quantitative: The SVS is data driven, with quantitative performance improvement
  • Level 5, Optimizing: The SVS is optimized and focused on continual improvement

Identifying The Maturity Level

To achieve a certain maturity level the following rules are applied:
  • The Service Value System maturity is assessed as the lowest maturity level achieved by its components
  • The maturity assessment is not focused on the adoption of the seven ITIL guiding principles; rather, it helps to understand the role and maturity of shared values and principles across the organization.
  • The maturity assessment of the organization’s service value chain component is not focused on the specific value chain model provided in ITIL. Rather, it aims to assess the maturity of the organization’s service value streams, including how they are identified, managed, and improved.
  • The maturity assessment is not focused on the adoption of the particular improvement model. Rather, it helps to understand the role and maturity of continual improvement across the organization.

Maturity Criteria for the SVS Components

The Guiding Principles

  • Level 1: Key people have different views on values and principles, and they might conflict.

  • Level 2: Common values and principles are shared by key people and articulated in a similar way; however, they are communicated mostly informally, by word of mouth.
  • Level 3: Common values and principles are documented and officially declared; most people are aware of them and agree with them.
  • Level 4: Common values and principles are integrated into the organization’s activities and decision-making at formal and informal levels; they are communicated and promoted across the organization. Adherence to the values and principles is systematically monitored and evaluated.
  • Level 5: Common values and principles are consistently applied across the organization, but also are continually and systematically reviewed and may be challenged or confirmed.

Governance

  • Level 1: The executive leaders evaluate, direct, and monitor the organization’s work on an ad-hoc basis; governance activities are mostly reactive.
  • Level 2: The executive leaders repeatedly define, update, and communicate organizational directives, ensure resources are sufficient; competencies are developed, and people are held accountable for adhering to organizational directives.
  • Level 3: The governance activities ensure that measures supporting objectives are implemented and analyzed. Practice capabilities are aligned with objectives.
  • Level 4: Governance decisions are data-driven. Outcomes are systematically measured and evaluated for effectiveness. Deviations from the agreed approach are identified and effectively addressed.
  • Level 5: The governance activities are systematically reviewed and evolve to support the organization’s vision and stakeholders’ requirements.

Service Value Chain

  • Level 1: The value creation activities are performed on an ad-hoc basis. The management practices are not used systematically. There are deviations in the processing of similar tasks depending on the individuals involved.
  • Level 2: There are some established workflows of value-creation involving multiple practices. They are performed repeatedly, although they are largely undocumented.
  • Level 3: Major value streams are identified, documented, and communicated to the involved parties, including third parties. People involved know and follow the documented workflows and procedures. Roles and responsibilities are assigned and fulfilled. Supporting practices are identified. Exceptions are processed following pre-agreed rules.
  • Level 4: Value streams are documented, monitored, systematically measured, and evaluated. Supporting practices are integrated into value streams. Management of the practices and value streams is inter-coordinated.
  • Level 5: Value streams are continually reviewed and improved. This is a documented activity with clear ownership and measured outcomes mapped to the organization’s objectives.

Continual Improvement

  • Level 1: The continual improvement practice is at level 1 or higher. Performance data is occasionally collected, some improvements are implemented.
  • Level 2: The continual improvement practice is at level 2 or higher. Some areas of management are repeatedly evaluated and improved; these activities are reactive and largely undocumented.
  • Level 3: The continual improvement practice is at level 3 or higher. Performance objectives are documented and mapped to the business objectives. A common process for measurement and improvement is formally adopted.
  • Level 4: The continual improvement practice is at level 4 or higher and apply to all or most aspects of the SVS. Performance is measured quantitatively, performance dynamics are monitored and analyzed, and improvements are implemented proactively.
  • Level 5: The continual improvement practice is at level 5. Performance objectives are dynamically aligned with the business strategy. The continual improvement approach evolves to support the organization’s vision and objectives.

Practices

  • Level 1: All key practices within the scope of assessment achieve capability level 1
  • Level 2: All key practices within the scope of assessment achieve capability level 2
  • Level 3: All key practices within the scope of assessment achieve capability level 3. All supporting practices of the functional area achieve capability level 1.
  • Level 4: All key practices within the scope of assessment achieve capability level 4. All supporting practices within the scope of assessment achieve capability level 2.
  • Level 5: All key practices within the scope of assessment achieve capability level 5. All supporting practices within the scope of assessment achieve capability level 3.
"The ITIL® maturity model is a tool that organizations can use to objectively and comprehensively assess their service management capabilities and the maturity of the organization’s service value system."

Conducting an Assessment

The ITIL Assessment is conducted by AXELOS Consulting Partners known as ACPs. These are organizations that have met the standards set by AXELOS to provide consulting services related to the set of Global Best Practices authored by AXELOS to ensure quality guidance to organizations looking to adopt and adapt these best practices.

Only ITIL 4 Assessors are qualified and allowed to conduct the ITIL Assessment. The ITIL 4 Assessor is an individual associated with an ACP who has been certified by AXELOS. These assessors are seasoned ITIL Consultants who have demonstrated a knowledge of ITIL 4 best practices, have completed the required education on the ITIL 4 Maturity Model and Assessment methodology, and have successfully passed the examination process at an acceptable level.

Scoping of the Assessment

An ITIL Assessment is based on the specific needs of the organizations. The ACP will work with the client to understand their particular need. There are 3 options for the type of assessment performed:
  • A Comprehensive Assessment – This includes the evaluation of 7 or more practices as well as the components of the ITIL Service Value System.
  • A Capability Assessment – This includes the assessment of selected practices but does not include the SVS components
  • A Maturity Assessment – This review the Service Value System components and up to 6 practices
Please note all 3 assessments require a capability assessment of the Continual Improvement practice

Depending on the scope of the assessment, AXELOS will certify the results and issue a formal certification.
  • Maturity level certificate – Issued for comprehensive assessments including seven or more practices. The number and list of the practices is explicitly stated on the certificate.
  • Maturity level assessment report /certificate – Issued for maturity assessments excluding the practices’ capabilities assessment or including fewer than seven practices.
  • Capability level assessment reports – Issued for each practice assessed. Issued after a capability assessment or in addition to a maturity certificate. In the latter case, a reference to the maturity certificate/report is included.
Please note that AXELOS has yet to officially name the certificates.

How to Get Started

In order to get started, you must contact an ACP. OwlPoint is the most tenured AXELOS Consulting Partner in the US and has been a contributor to the ITIL Maturity Model. To find out more about the new ITIL Maturity Model or an ITIL Assessment, please schedule an appointment to talk to one of our qualified ITIL 4 Assessors or send us an email at ITILMaturityAssessment@owlpoint.com 

And when you reach out to the team, please be sure to tell them that the ITSM Professor sent you!


ITIL is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited.


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