There are many people who want to get better at doing ‘stuff’ in their organisation. What stuff is that? Any stuff! They might want to get better at managing knowledge, dealing with customers, or managing risk. It doesn’t really matter what sort of organisation they work in either. From small local businesses to massive multinational corporations, there are people who want to improve what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and ultimately improve their organisation.

So, people want to get better at doing stuff – improve their practices – but need some help to get started. One key source of help is published resources based on practitioner or academic research. This can be interesting and thought provoking on many levels, but can also be overwhelming – where to begin? which study is most appropriate for this context?

Another key source of valuable information are other practitioners in the same or related fields. The shared knowledge or advice of a recognised expert or trusted peer within the practitioner’s own network often carries far more weight than any published research.

Is it possible to make the most of academic and practice-based research and real-world experience and expertise at the same time?

Why, yes it is (thank you for asking)! A maturity framework is a summarised guide to best practice information collected by consultation with practitioners and a review of academic and practice literature. More than being merely an amalgam of information sources, maturity frameworks are further tested and improved through pilots with organisations to validate them. This process brings individuals’ expertise and experience together with current research trends and findings, sharing these integrated learnings, and testing their usefulness in real-world scenarios.

A maturity framework is structured in such a way as to describe how ‘well’ an organisation can ‘do’ particular things. This allows practitioners and/or managers to assess their organisation’s current level of maturity (i.e. how good their practices are right now), identify where they want to be, and figure out what they should be doing to get there. Many maturity frameworks incorporate tools and resources to help practitioners and managers on their journey to their target maturity level. An important, and often overlooked, benefit of maturity frameworks is that they also provide a shared language to form the basis for debate and discussion on how to improve the organisation and its practices.

Maturity frameworks represent a tool that harness real-world experience from inside the organisation and brings it together with expertise from outside the organisation, while also drawing on current academic and practitioner research. At IVI, our IT-CMF (IT-Capability Maturity Framework) is designed to help people who are responsible for IT to get better at managing their IT capability. There are many facets to effectively managing IT in organisations, and the IT-CMF reflects that by addressing multiple capability areas.