So, what is Operational Maturity Level (OML)?
I recently spoke at a MindShare with a Technology Strategy Council, focusing on the concept / framework known as Operational Maturity Level (OML). Full disclosure: I did not invent this concept or its TLA (three-letter acronym). The Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University developed a Capability Maturity Model (CMM) as a methodology for increasing or evolving operational maturity within software development projects. Microsoft also has similar model for IT infrastructure optimization, aptly named “Microsoft IO”:
Optimization is a structured, systematic process for assessing organizations IT infrastructures across capabilities to provide an optimization road map that achieves dynamic IT. The road map can help companies define and implement optimization initiatives that will enable proactive IT management and reduce cost and risk across the IT organization. These optimization initiatives also enhance user needs and user experience to increase productivity and amplify the impact of employees. Optimization enables businesses to realize the full value of their IT infrastructure investments and establishes IT as a strategic business asset that can facilitate innovation and help organizations respond quickly to change.
OML in the Real World
Where can we leverage the concept of Operational Maturity Level? The answer is: almost anywhere. We like to use the OML framework as a means by which to develop strategies to optimize the alignment of IT to business, mainly for the purpose of reducing risk or increasing productivity within organizations. Before we get into that, let’s start with a non-tech example of two different garages:
- Which garage runs more efficiently?
- Which garage produces better track results?
- Which garage is more expensive to setup?
- Which garage is more expensive to maintain?
- Which garage is highly automated?
When considering OML in the context of IT infrastructure, IT support, IT management or IT strategy, it’s often very useful to consider this example above when considering technology goals and partnerships.
IT Operational Maturity Level Score
By applying a numeric scale to OML it is possible to categorize and rank key areas of IT and enable strategic planning around making OML progress. Generally, an entire organization can be fairly rapidly scored overall with a basic technology assessment, with more in-depth analysis required to assess the OML by key operational area (e.g. servers vs. applications vs. backup and disaster recovery). The scale is as follows:
OML 1 – Beginning (“Chaos”)
Little if any order exists. IT infrastructure is unmanageable, unreliable, slow, insecure, plenty of downtime, and generally unusable. At this stage, immediate action is required as the business is likely at critical risk for downtime and/or data loss. Plans are being made to replace decrepit equipment and address critical risks as soon as possible. The environment can only be supported by “brute force” and with significant labour.
OML 2 – Emerging (“Fire Fighting”)
There is an awareness of IT, but minimal or ad-hoc attention has been put towards it. Progress is not being made. Very little standardization exists, downtime is frequent, performance is affecting productivity, and generally very little confidence exists in the ability of IT to support business demands. Plans are being made to standardize the environment and address the performance and uptime challenges. It is costly and frustrating to support the environment, and even with a good IT support team, users are frustrated.
OML 3 – Scaling (“Stable”)
Significant investments have been made in the IT infrastructure, all critical IT assets are under active hardware manufacturer warranty. Minimal risk exists in the environment, and uptime is acceptable. Users have stopped complaining daily. The environment is generally safe and secure, with minimal risks. IT process and documentation have improved significantly, and there is a new level of tolerance for IT within the user base. IT support load is still significant, but the nature of the issues are becoming easier to manage quickly and efficiently.
OML 4 – Optimizing (“Proactive”)
Technology is starting to support business innovation. Critical business applications (e.g. ERP/CRM) can be reliably deployed and distributed to the various departments and the field. Uptime is excellent, and proactive IT support is possible (for example, assessing the quality of the network vs. simply the availability). The opportunity exists to look at methods to optimize performance, uptime and cost structure. Business continuity planning becomes possible, and overall governance and IT process development is actively being pursued.
OML 5 – Innovating (“Zen”)
Technology is now a strategic advantage to the business and differentiated vs. the competition. High availability and near-realtime business continuity are a given. Provisioning of IT services is automated, secured, with self-serve capabilities (e.g. Tier-0 support). IT infrastructure issues are rare, and most issues are handled by the IT group without user impact.
To find out how we can help you with your OML contact us.