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Conquering Maturity Mountain

Bloggers and BPM pundits tend to make a big deal about “maturity”,
the idea that organizations implement technology along a curve the runs from relatively
unsophisticated to highly complex. To my knowledge, this idea was first
formally described at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering
in respect of software processes. But the concept has since been
generalized to cover almost every area of technology, including BPM.

Maturity can be a useful notion for companies trying to
better visualize how they might more thoroughly integrate their BPM solution
across the enterprise. In her blog, BPM expert and all-around smart person Sandy
Kemsley describes a recent talk by Paul Harmon, Founder of Business Process

[Harmon] walked us through
the […] business process maturity model from level 1, with no organized
processes to level 5, where processes are continuously being improved. He
pointed out (quite rightly) that most BPM technology vendors are selling the
ability to implement level 5, yet most organizations are at level 1 or 2, and
struggling to improve their process maturity.

Perhaps the message here is that vendors ought to make sure
they are meeting the basic needs of their customers before selling them
expensive and complicated extras–components that address problems their
customers aren’t yet close to facing.

That admonishment applies equally to customers. As I’ve said
repeatedly in this space, the biggest bang for your buck is achieved as soon as
you automate. Get that done and worry about the more subtle, complicated issues–integration
with enterprise platforms, conformance with enterprise architecture standards–later.

Consultants like to imply that the higher you scale the
maturity mountain, the more value you will receive. Perhaps that’s true, but those
slopes steepen sharply as you rise.  If
you’re not yet ready for the thin air near the summit, establish a base camp,
toast your accomplishment, and gather yourself before pushing for the top. In a
rush? Well, yeah: so were the folks whose frozen bodies you’ll pass on the way

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