In just about all organizations, information technology (IT) has become both indispensable to and a critical differentiator for how an organization performs. Having IT organizational maturity (the ability to effectively maximize the use of IT for the organization’s business and/or mission objectives and to do so in a secure and efficient manner) is now a crucial component for overall enterprise success. But many enterprises do not understand what mature IT management looks like, let alone have any idea regarding their current state of IT organizational maturity.

FITARA Act: Defining the “What”

The U.S. Congress has recognized significant deficiencies in how federal government agencies manage their IT, and in late 2014, it passed the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), which was subsequently signed into law by President Obama. The objective of FITARA is to improve the management of IT within an agency and, hence, its ability to deliver its mission and conduct its business. Like much legislation, there was a lot about what needed to improve but much less on how to go about affecting such improvement.

ACT-IAC: Supporting the “How”

To support the implementation of FITARA, the American Council for Technology Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) formed a working group to develop an IT management maturity model to help agencies not only assess their current maturity but also improve their overall IT management maturity. The project team noted that while this management maturity model was developed for federal agencies, its concepts and approach are applicable to all levels of government and private sector organizations as well. The IT management maturity model is comprised of five key, interrelated functions:

  • Governance: the collaboration and decision-making glue by which IT management works
  • Budget: the process of formulating, obtaining approval and executing the use of funds to support IT
  • Acquisition: the buying process used to obtain IT products and services
  • Organization and workforce: the process to determine needed competencies and develop and sustain a workforce that has those competencies through recruitment and professional development
  • Program management: the set of disciplines used to deliver IT capabilities to meet an agency mission or business need, or the operations and maintenance of an existing system

The model lends itself well to a workshop-style training approach in which representatives from various organizations across the enterprise are represented. For each of the five functions of the model, there are defined attributes, and for each attribute, there are traits, which can be used to assess the maturity of an enterprise in that function. The model specifies characteristics of three levels of maturity: basic capabilities, evolving maturity and demonstrated maturity.

When learning the model, participants should engage in an exercise of self-assessment, scoring the enterprise at the trait and attribute level for each function in order to establish a baseline for the enterprise. For each trait in which the enterprise scores below a level 3 (demonstrated maturity), there is a description of maturity at the next level, which helps an enterprise determine the steps required to meet that next level of maturity for that particular trait.

This model can be powerful when used in a workshop approach with skilled facilitators who have real-world experience running IT organizations. Participants can, over a three- or four-day workshop, gain a much better appreciation of whether they have significant gaps in the maturity of their enterprise and the tangible steps they can take to address those gaps. For participants who work in just one function, it gives them a much better understanding of the full breadth of activities required across all five functions for an enterprise to have successful IT management.

With ever-increasing global competitiveness and cybersecurity threats, almost all private and public organizations face the critical need to more effectively manage their IT. The ACT-IAC IT management maturity model is designed to specifically address these critical needs across the enterprise, focusing on the proper interactions and support of the finance, HR and acquisition organizations and working in concert with the IT organization to provide significantly improved business and mission outcomes.

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