IT leaders seeking to build sustainable operations that meet the challenges of today’s uncertain, fast-moving business landscape need to think beyond crisis management and develop long-term, growth-oriented processes. The first step in doing that is understanding your IT team’s level of operational maturity, so you can begin advancing team performance and maximizing the team’s contribution across the company.
In the recent webinar, Operational Maturity: A Coming of Age for IT, we discuss five levels of operational maturity to help IT leaders identify where they are now and determine where they need to improve.
What is operational maturity?
Operational maturity is an organization’s ability to effectively leverage technology to achieve its overall objectives. “IT operational maturity is the consistency, reliability and resilience of your IT infrastructure,” said Kim Zupancic, Senior Product Marketing Manager for GoTo Resolve, “as well as the way it's managed and maintained.”
Small and midsized businesses (SMBs) with higher levels of operational maturity are better equipped to deliver high quality services to their customers and employees, boosting bottom line revenues. These operationally mature SMBs can quickly resolve IT issues, proactively monitor their infrastructure, and make informed business decisions based on data.
The 5 levels of operational maturity
GoTo and Qualtrics surveyed a range of SMB IT leaders to learn more about where they are on their IT maturity journeys to identify five distinct maturity levels. Want to get your results fast? Take our quick 5-question quiz to determine your IT maturity level.
Level 1 (10% of surveyed SMBs)
In this lowest level of operational maturity, there are no formalized structures and standards to manage IT issues. There’s no documentation available and no dedicated help desk. When a user has an issue, they’ll send an email or call someone in the IT department.
The challenges at L1 are massive: your IT resolution times vary widely depending on who is available to help, which causes user frustration and lost employee productivity. Even worse, all your IT expertise is living inside the brains of your IT experts. If your IT support “Yoda” gets sick, leaves, or retires, your IT know-how disappears. Zupancic says, “In a worst-case scenario, IT issues can spiral into bigger consequences that impact productivity and security and could become really expensive.”
Level 2 (18% of surveyed SMBs)
L2 has a designated help desk but it’s largely reactive and has only basic documentation (likely spreadsheets) for troubleshooting. Nothing's automated, and most importantly, nothing is really proactive in preventing potential IT issues.
The challenges at L2 are that IT techs spend their time “firefighting.” Zupancic explains, "IT waits until something breaks before addressing it and it ends up being harder and more expensive to address.”
Leveling up from L2 requires investments in RMM (remote monitoring and management) and MDM (mobile device management) solutions that allow IT to be more predictive and actually prevent issues from occurring. It also means implementing basic problem management using frameworks like ITIL. Finally, it means becoming more strategic in choosing where to automate and outsource.
Level 3 (39% of surveyed SMBs)
At this level, your SMB is proactive and productive. You’re using automation to prevent IT problems, and you’re using change, asset, and performance management tools to keep operations running.
However, not all of your IT tools are integrated, so you don’t have full, real-time visibility into what’s happening. And the rest of the business continues to view IT as a cost center, not a strategic partner.
Leveling up from L3 means finding ways to become more strategic around processes that impact the entire business. That strategic alignment also requires bridging the gap between existing IT metrics and business KPIs. Integrating systems is a must, so your SMB can leverage all existing data for higher-level improvements. As Zupancic says, “You'll want to automate repetitive processes and integrate systems, so you can connect data to gain insights for further optimization.”
Level 4 (23% of surveyed SMBs)
L4 is a great place to be. Systems are integrated, processes are automated, and you have defined SLAs and robust reporting.
What IT lacks at L4 is a seat at the table for broader business decision-making, which means it’s tougher to get the budget IT needs to reach the next level.
Level 5 (9% of surveyed SMBs)
L5 IT teams are full strategic partners of the larger organization, and their outcomes consistently align with business goals and KPIs. IT serves to continually improve the SMB’s processes and revenue-generating capabilities.
The biggest L5 challenges are around retaining and training IT talent. The tools deployed at L5 are more complex and customized, which results in a need for more specialized talent, as well as challenges in training that talent. Meeting those L5 challenges requires reducing tech stack bloat by eliminating tools that are costly and difficult to maintain/learn.
Level up with the right tools
The final takeaway here is that IT maturity is not a one-time accomplishment, but rather an ongoing journey. GoTo Resolve was built to advance your operational maturity, consolidating everything SMB IT teams need, including RMM, remote support, remote access, endpoint management, automation, mobile support, helpdesk ticketing, and more. It's also easy to use and learn.
Watch the free webinar recording to learn more about the five levels of IT maturity and how your organization can keep moving forward.