Origin Story for the Maturity Model for Microsoft 365


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Maturity Model for Microsoft 365

The Maturity Model for Microsoft 365 is an extension of the SharePoint Maturity Model (SPMM)

Around the time SharePoint 2010 was released, Sadie Van Buren developed a powerful set of concepts embodied in the SharePoint Maturity Model (SPMM). The basic idea was to give people working with the platform ways to:

  • Understand their capabilities along multiple dimensions on a clearly defined scale
  • Decide which level they would like to achieve for each dimension and in what time frame
  • Improve their capabilities in tangible ways by progressing to the next level
  • Compare their organization to their peers based on quantified surveys

The SPMM was, of course, focused squarely on SharePoint. At the time, SharePoint was exclusively an on-premises product and generally stood alone, unless you did a lot of work to change things. The principles, however, remain valid.

The tools have changed, but we still see similar levels of capability when using Document Libraries:

  • Team-centric - mostly document storage replacing shared drives
  • Cross-enterprise, leveraging fuller functionality
  • External collaboration

These three high-level distinctions are levels of capability we in the practitioner community see every day in our work. Some organizations are totally fine using SharePoint as a shared folder in the cloud, but most want to be working smarter than that. But how can they know what their path should be? And how can they get there?

Underpinnings: the Capability Maturity Model

SPMM was based on the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), which originally came out of work at Carnegie Mellon University in 1986 and focused on software development. The premise was if you could measure yourself against a clear set of standards to identify where your practices and capabilities stood, you could take concrete steps to progress to the next level. The model defined a 5 point scale, representing the levels:

Level 100 - Initial

This is the starting level for a new or untried process. Practices may be somewhat effective, but they don’t take advantage of the power of the platform, nor do they take into account the multiple use cases which exist in even the smallest and simplest organization. Typically, they are undocumented and in a state of dynamic change, tending to be driven in an ad hoc, uncontrolled and reactive manner by users or events. This provides a chaotic or unstable environment for the processes.

Level 200 - Repeatable

Processes are documented or managed by a central group to enable (but not enforce) the preferred ways of doing them. Some processes are repeatable, possibly with consistent results. Process discipline is unlikely to be rigorous, but where it exists it may help to ensure that existing processes are maintained during times of stress. 

Level 300 - Defined

The process is well defined and agreed as a standard business process. There are sets of defined and documented standard processes established, signed off and subject to some degree of improvement over time. These standard processes are in place. The processes may not have been systematically or repeatedly used to the extent needed for their users to become fully competent or the process to be validated in a range of situations. This could be considered a developmental stage - with use in a wider range of conditions and user competence development the process can develop to next level of maturity.

Level 400 - Capable

The process is quantitatively managed in accordance with agreed-upon metrics. Effective achievement of the process objectives can be evidenced (using metrics) across a range of operational conditions. The suitability of the process in multiple environments has been tested and the process refined and adapted. Process users have experienced the process in multiple and varied conditions and are able to demonstrate competence. The process maturity enables adaptions to particular projects without measurable losses of quality or deviations from specifications. Process Capability is established from this level.

Level 500 - Efficient

Process management includes deliberate process optimization/improvement. The focus is on continually improving process performance through both incremental and innovative technological changes/improvements. Processes are concerned with addressing statistical common causes of process variation and changing the process (for example, to shift the mean of the process performance) to improve process performance. This would be done at the same time as maintaining the likelihood of achieving the established quantitative process-improvement objectives.

Management of the processes includes deliberate and systematic process improvement/optimization. There is focus is on continual improvement through both incremental and innovative technological changes/improvements. The Optimizing level is likely to include automation, reduction in manual tasks and associated variability, strong governance and compliance interventions as well as optimization for user interactions and productivity. 

Not every organization needs to be at the top level. NASA or Airbus have different goals, constraints, and risks to manage than a small marketing or retail organization. Not every department, team or function needs to be at the same level; Operations often needs to function with higher levels of maturity than, for example, Sales and this is reflected in their respective technology strategy and investment. As with any organizational capability, the organization should decide if the capability should be a strategic differentiator or simply a basic operational capability based on the organizational strategy. The former may require optimized and fool proof capabilities, where the latter only requires relative efficiency.



Join the Maturity Model Practitioners: Every month we host sessions exploring the value and use of the Microsoft 365 Maturity Model and how you can successfully develop your organization using Microsoft 365. Each of these sessions focus on building a community of practitioners in a safe space to hone your pitch, test your thoughts, or decide how to promote your use of the Maturity Model. Sessions may also include a brief presentation about the Maturity Model including recent updates.

The MM4M365 core team has evolved over time. These are the people who have been a part of it.

Core team: