Gartner's Grownups: Check Out Your Company's Maturity Level

Where Do You Fit In?

As companies combat an IT talent shortage and set out to increase their focus on business rather than technical value, how can they measure their progress? To help with that question, ITScore, a ranking created by research firm Gartner, grades companies from levels one to five on their business value abilities. CRN breaks down the five-step Gartner ranking and what companies can do to move up the ladder.

Also, be sure to read CRN's entire special report on the IT talent shortage, available exclusively on the CRN Tech News App for iOS and Windows 8.

Level One: Awareness

The first step in fixing a problem is acknowledging that it is there, which is what the first level of the score is all about. At this level, companies realize that infrastructure and operations are critical to business success, but they don't necessarily know what to do about it yet. Companies at this level are working to fix problems and are using a "fire-fighting" approach and ad hoc processes.

The bright side is that it doesn't take much capital to improve, said Jay Pultz, vice president at Gartner and head of the study, but some time might have to be invested before companies will see improvement.

Level Two: Committed

As companies move into the second level, they are starting to embrace more management to be more customer-friendly. This level is where most companies fit in. Out of the more than 1,000 companies that have taken the survey, the average score is a 2.29, Pultz said. What that means, he said, is that most companies are still reactive instead of proactive.

"When that happens it's hard to focus on just business. It's almost like being a hamster on a wheel, just trying to get everything done that has to get done in a day," Pultz said. "The bottom line is people still have a ways to go."

Level Three: Proactive

The third level is what the study qualifies as "maturity," Pultz said. At this level, companies are standardizing operations, company structure and processes across departments. Companies are working to incorporate best practices, and everyday projects are maturing.

"That's when the day-to-day issues aren't taking all of your time and you're starting to get ahead of the curve," Pultz said. Not every company needs to reach the fifth level, Pultz said, but they should aim to at least reach the third level on the scale.

Level Four: Services-Aligned

At this level, IT is being managed like a business and has put best practices in place and become a trusted provider. Most companies don't make it to this level because they fail to provide training and skills for their employees, Pultz said.

"If the training program isn't there, then that reflects badly on the skills because you have missing skills that you have to put in place," Pultz said.

The key to getting to the higher levels, such as level four, is providing training and having a strong organizational structure and culture to back it up, Pultz said. While getting above the minimum ideal score is great for business, it means that companies will begin to see diminishing returns on their training inputs, although in the end there can never be enough training, Pultz said.

Level Five: Business Partner

The highest level of the ITScore means the company is adding business value and increasing its viability to compete. Companies at this level proactively search out new technologies to improve business value and build strategic relationships with managers.

"That's a sign of greater maturity -- when infrastructure and operations are considered by the business to be a full partner, just like any other part of the business. They're viewed as a business unit," Pultz said.