When it comes to the topic of digital transformation, companies often ask themselves many questions: Where do we stand? How fast is the transformation progressing? What potential do we have and where should we start? Digital maturity models help to answer these and many other questions.
Digital maturity models enable companies to determine the digital maturity of individual departments or the entire organization by evaluating existing capabilities, identifying optimization potential and defining measures to achieve set quality targets. Particularly for companies in global competition, it is essential to evaluate their own capabilities in a structured manner in order to implement changes and improvements that will bring long-term advantages on the market. Using predefined criteria, companies measure the quality of their processes and assign them to a specific maturity level. With such a maturity model, digitalization can also be viewed more comprehensively from the perspective of the entire company, as topics such as resources, channels and the IT infrastructure, as well as aspects such as culture and leadership quality, are included. The higher a digital maturity level is overall, the higher the degree of automation, which is a crucial aspect for digital transformation. Likewise, there is a correlation between the degree of digitalization and the agility of an organization: Companies that respond proactively and anticipatorily to changes, for example, also have extensive automation, a continuous improvement process and an established process culture.
In order to be able to make holistic decisions in the context of digital transformation, companies must understand and illuminate their status quo and consequently all business processes. In this way, scattered competencies can be linked to form an overarching strategy, which increases efficiency and quality in the long term. In the course of determining the degree of digitalization maturity, the dimensions of strategy, customers, products and services, organization and technology should be examined in particular, in addition to the processes. In the following, we will focus on the analysis of digital business processes.
A Business Process Management (BPM) Maturity Model can be used to understand and determine the BPM maturity of an organization. In a next step, targeted recommendations for action can then be developed from this. For a process to be considered mature, its usefulness must be complete, it must be automated, its information must be reliable, and it must be capable of continuous improvement.
Detailed questionnaires can be used to check how close a process is to full maturity. The answers to these individualized questions by management, process owners or process modelers subsequently enable the company to determine the maturity level. In the context of the process analysis, the questions should refer to the individual sub-dimensions of technology, data, quality and organization, as these make up the criteria for operationalization.
Maturity models are very diverse and vary in their holistic nature, which means that their systematic application requires a great deal of experience and expertise. In addition, it must be remembered that each process in the company must be evaluated individually. A large number of processes must be documented, examined and optimized - in large companies, this can take as long as one or two years. However, analyzing the maturity level is undoubtedly worthwhile in order to be able to act holistically and lay a correspondingly good foundation for each next step.
- The process is fully documented using standards (BPMN, EPK, UML, etc.) (Focus: Documentation)
- The process is fully described with the help of standards (focus: workflow description)
- The process status can be viewed at any time externally from the customer's viewpoint and internally from the viewpoint of another unit
- The stability of the process runs is ensured even during peak loads
- The process includes controls and audit authorities to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements (internal)
- The process fully ensures regulatory requirements for data protection and data security (external)
- There is a clearly defined digitalization strategy in the company
- The digitalization strategy is fully implemented in the process
- Full digital expertise (internal or external) is available to successfully develop the process further
- The employees involved in the process have the qualifications to carry out the process successfully
- Effective measures are taken to promote the acceptance of digital processes
- Those involved in the process fully welcome the digitalization of the considered process
We have compiled the correlations between the level of digitalization, agility and process management in a graphic that you can download here. The maturity of digitalization as well as that of processes and the agility of an organization is defined here on the basis of six levels, with level 0 representing the lowest maturity and level 5 the highest maturity. While companies in levels 1 and 2 still act reactively, they also become more proactive as their maturity increases. Each maturity level also has a corresponding effect on productivity and risks - as digitalization maturity increases, internal company risks and production costs are reduced due to data-driven and forward-looking actions as well as continuous improvements to business processes.
Depending on how the company classifies itself in the maturity model, the focus of the subsequent tasks also varies. Those in Level 0, 1 or 2 should first sensitize employees and management to digital transformation, develop an overarching digital strategy, provide resources, fully document processes, and complete initial digitalization projects with visible successes. For companies in Level 3 or 4, it is important to implement the existing strategy, measure the processes using key performance indicators and then optimize them to increase quality, and in particular to continue to drive organizational and cultural change. Companies that are already classified as Level 5 should not rest on their laurels, but rather continue to establish the digital ecosystem and actively live the continuous improvement process and an innovative corporate culture.
In any case, digital transformation should be understood more as a journey than a destination - and the digital maturity model as an aid to finding out at which stage of this journey an organization is currently in order to subsequently determine the individual change course toward digitalization.
A digital maturity model makes it easier for companies to objectively assess their processes. The results and conclusions that can be drawn from the use of the model form the basis for target analyses and process improvements as well as the digital transformation process in general. In addition, a comparison with competitors or other company units is made possible.
From the internal perspective of a company, the use of a digital maturity model brings the following benefits:
- Recognition of strengths and weaknesses based on a defined framework
- Definition of measures for continuous improvement
- Benchmark orientation
- Documentation of the company quality
But there are also benefits for the external view, for example for a potential client:
- Better comparability of different companies
- Verification of the required quality
- Creation of specifications on minimum standards