Using the CMM to Benchmark Your SharePoint Investment?

By Rich Blank posted 01-14-2011 00:26


How do you know if or when you truly are optimizing the investment you've made in the Microsoft SharePoint platform?  You've spent last year creating your SharePoint roadmaps and have grand plans for social capabilities or perhaps the cloud.  Or maybe  you know enough about SharePoint to be dangerous and are just getting started with formulating your enterprise implementation.  You have a few success stories about how SharePoint has enabled productivity or saved money and you’ve justified the business case to move to the latest 2010 release.  However, is there end state to a platform that offers what seems to be an infinite amount of features and capabilities for solving an infinite amount of business problems across all functions and industries?  Is there a point when your implementation of the SharePoint platform reaches an optimized level of maturity?   

Among the tools out there that might help you is the capability maturity model (CMM).  Management consultants seem to love this model and I see it from time to time.   However, often times I encounter a version of this model that is simply vague or too broad.  Then I scratch my head and wonder how can this CMM practically help me?    It’s quite subjective and doesn't seem to tell me what actions I need to focus on.   Can I really apply this to SharePoint?

The Capability Maturity Model involves creating some type of benchmark for comparison.  It is interesting to note that the CMM was originally developed to assess government contractor processes relating to software development projects Wikipedia has an adequate definition of the model as I won’t go into too much detail here.  In a nutshell, the CMM has 5 levels of maturity upon which something is measured.  The following triangle diagram is simply illustrative and the CMM usually takes the shape of a matrix format:

  1. Initial (chaotic, ad hoc, individual heroics) - the starting point for use of a new process.
  2. Managed - the process is managed in accordance with agreed metrics.
  3. Defined - the process is defined/confirmed as a standard business process, and decomposed to levels 0, 1 and 2 (the latter being Work Instructions).
  4. Quantitatively managed
  5. Optimizing - process management includes deliberate process optimization/improvement.

If you applied the CMM to SharePoint, it's likely most large and small organizations are currently somewhere between #1 and #3 in the model (whatever that means).   However, applying this model to a SharePoint implementation that addresses dozens of business needs with dozens of capabilities and features is just not as easy as it looks.  If you're assessing the maturity of SharePoint, you really need to assess the maturity of collaboration and ECM in your organization.  And it may involve cultural considerations as well as other SharePoint-related technologies (e.g. OCS/Lynx, Office, Project Server, etc.).   So where to begin if you want some type of model to benchmark your SharePoint implementation against?  How do we get to #4 and eventually to #5 so you can pat yourself on the back knowing you are finally optimizing your investment?  

Perhaps more appropriate questions we should be asking are:

  • What do #4 or #5 really mean to you and your organization?  
  • Is #5 Optimization what you should be striving for in the first place?  

I might suggest that "Optimization" be replaced by something like "Value Creation" (defined by concepts like knowledge,  analytics, collaboration, learning, innovation, and relationships).  Whenever I wonder if I'm helping a client "Optimize SharePoint", I tend to think about maximizing value while minimizing the effort (and costs) involved for administrators, developers, project managers, and all individuals that use and support the platform.  Isn't this the real nirvana we should be striving for?

I’m hoping to research this more over the course of this  year and am interested if other's have attempted something like this.  

#sharepoint #SharePoint #benchmark #CMM