As a consultant, your business relies on a steady influx of qualified leads. Lead generation can be a never-ending and time-consuming task for a professional service business. The truth is, selling your skills, knowledge, and experience can be a lot tougher than selling a product.
You need a way to stand out from other consultants. A way to prove your expertise.
Offering your prospects a maturity assessment lets you demonstrate your capabilities and spot new business opportunities.
You can use a maturity model as part of your lead generation method or to onboard and retain new customers. By giving them an assessment to do during the onboarding process, you can provide them with practical information about their maturity level and highlight different issues or weak points where you, as a consultant, can help.
What is a Maturity Model & Why Should Consultants Use Them?
A maturity model is a framework to describe the different levels of a business’s performance in one or more areas through predefined criteria.
The maturity level indicates how well a business or system within a business is doing and also their ability to improve over time.
As a consultant, you may work with companies that have numerous departments at various stages of growth. There are many things that could cause the discrepancy of maturity levels in different areas of a business. However, it is up to you to address the situation for each area to help the business grow and scale as a whole.
For example, Demand Metric has created maturity models for businesses within a number of different areas. These maturity models don’t just look at business performance as a whole but rather attempt to determine the maturity level for a specific business area, e.g. digital marketing, public relations or sales enablement.
Source: Demand Metric
By applying the appropriate maturity model to a company, you may discover that it has a low maturity level in one area and a high maturity level in another. With this information, you can tailor your service offering specifically to your client’s situation. You can take a maturity assessment with your clients or prospects during a meeting, or you can embed it into your website, like our customer Elements.cloud did.
For a better understanding of the concept, think of a maturity assessment as an annual medical check-up. Just as it’s best practice to regularly receive a full medical check-up from your doctor to maintain good health, businesses need regular check-ups to assess their performance in different areas too.
Different Types of Maturity Models
There are many different types of maturity models that have been developed over the years. Each type will have a varying number of levels. It typically ranges from 3 – 10 maturity levels. Most maturity models are designed to be relevant for a specific industry or business area.
In this article, we’ll discuss two of the most commonly used maturity models: The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and the Agile ISO Maturity Model (AIMM). It’s best practice for every consultant to create their own maturity model based on their unique expertise, and use these commonly used maturity models as inspiration.
Capability Maturity Model
The Capability Maturity Model is the original maturity model that was developed by the US Department of Defense in the late 1980s. It was designed specifically to evaluate whether a company could effectively deliver on software development projects.
According to the CMMI Institute, there are over 8500 accredited users of this particular model. Although designed around software development, the CM can actually be applied to a wide range of related areas.
The CMM proposes five levels of maturity:
- Level 1 – Initial: At this maturity level the software development process can be chaotic as requirements for the system as a whole are unclear or uncontrolled.
- Level 2 – Repeatable: At this stage the software standards such as cost estimation, schedule and functionality are defined enough to be repeatable but the process is still reactive.
- Level 3 – Defined: By this level processes are better tailored to the business which means that the product is more likely to meet all the requirements for its intended use.
- Level 4 – Managed: This level shows a high capability as the business manages project processes quantitatively with statistics.
- Level 5 – Optimized: This is the highest maturity level and indicates efficiency and that the company can focus on process improvements to meet its objectives.
The problem with the CMM is that is only offers a view of the business as it currently functions. It doesn’t provide adequate information for the future progress of a company or changing objectives. Similarly, business advisor, author and entrepreneur Barry O’ Reilly states that “applying a static model, like a maturity model to dynamic variables – such as markets, customer needs, and technology – rarely meets expectations.”
So, what’s the solution?
Agile ISO Maturity Model
Because the CMM was designed for software development companies, it is less suited for other industries or business areas.
Therefore, the Agile ISO Maturity Model (AIMM) is a better option in the sense that it can help your clients better understand their current internal processes and how to improve them. The AIMM assessment looks at how a company can improving its agility level over time.
AIMM has a greater focus on business processes and can easily be applied across various industries.
There are three components to the AIMM:
- Agile – agile business processes get faster results as they are easy to adapt to changes and encourage collaboration across different departments within a business.
- ISO – the International Organization for Standardization provides an established framework of industry standards and best practices.
- Maturity Model – provides a way to qualitatively measure progress and turn it into quantitative metrics which helps a business reach its goals.
The idea is to use an AIMM assessment to help your clients measure their performance and use that information to create an agile system within the ISO framework for their industry.
The AIMM also consists of five stages:
- Level 1 – Documented Processes: The first level is reached when a company’s processes have been documented (in any form). This stage is characterized by awareness of all the processes throughout different areas of the business.
- Level 2 – Followed Processes: A company reaches the next level when they consistently put into action the processes they have documented. At this stage team members can follow the processes to the best standard each time and will easily be able to identify any flaws.
- Level 3 – Managed Processes: The third level is reached once a company starts to manage their documented and followed processes better by developing infrastructure around the processes. This infrastructure can take the form of process management software or a specialized process to team to collect and analyze data.
- Level 4 – Optimized Processes: The next level is all about using the data gathered through the infrastructure to optimize the current processes and improve output. At this point, the progress becomes about improvement which will continue over time as a business grows.
- Level 5 – Integrated Processes: The final stage revolves around creating new processes that complement the core processes and link different parts of a company. This could be done by developing processes for communication between leadership and staff or even processes to become a more sustainable or Eco-friendly business.
The goal of this model is not solely focused on the current performance, but rather on progress and finding ways to improve internal processes.
However, to ensure the best results for your clients, you should not use the CMM or the AIMM. These are simply examples of maturity models that have been created by others in the past to serve a specific purpose. Instead, develop your own maturity model that is specifically designed for your unique situation.
How to Create Your Custom Maturity Assessment
The first step in the process is to design and create a maturity model that’s applicable for your domain of specialization. You need split this domain into subdomains and determine the parameters that will be used to measure the level of maturity in each subdomain.
A simple Online Presence Maturity Model for example, will consist of a number of subdomains along with parameters that evaluate performance using three maturity levels :
Subdomain 1: Blogging
- Level 1: No blog
- Level 2: There is a blog, with less than two articles per month published
- Level 3: There is a blog, with more than two articles per month published
Subdomain 2: LinkedIn Presence
- Level 1: The company nor its CEO is present on LinkedIn
- Level 2: The company or its CEO is present on LinkedIn and typically posts less than once per month
- Level 3: The company or its CEO is present on LinkedIn and typically posts more than once per month
And so on…
In addition to this, you can perform (or use existing) research to discover the industry benchmarks (average performance levels) in each of the subdomains.
After having collected this information from a customer, a consultant will typically summarize their findings in a nicely looking report, indicating the client’s performance levels vs. the benchmarks along with personalized recommendations on how to improve in the different subdomains.
How to Effectively Use Maturity Assessments
Maturity assessment tools automate the process of collecting information and generating the personalized reports. You can present this assessment to your potential clients who will then answer the questions. Once completed, a PDF report will automatically be generated based on their answers. This will be auto-sent to your client as is along with an explanation of how you can help them based on the results of their assessment.
The content of the report will depend on the purpose of the maturity assessment but will generally provide information on:
- Required improvements.
- Level of functioning compared to the industry standard.
- Activities or tasks that will lead to improvement.
- How your services can assist their business: his can include a CTA (Call-To-Action) to make an appointment with someone of your team.
The automated nature of maturity assessments means that you can provide extremely valuable transactional advice to potential clients at scale. Not only do they get detailed insights into their business via text, statistics, charts and graphs on their report, but also your guidance on how to proceed. With continually fine-tuning, these assessments will help you grow your business.
Maturity assessments provide you with a genius solution for building the ‘know, like, trust’ factor as a consultant.
For example, Axway seamlessly integrated The Digital Maturity Assessment into a landing page on their website. By providing their visitors with straightforward information about the steps involved and an example of what to expect from the assessment on this landing page, they come across as transparent and therefore, trustworthy.
As a result, a higher percentage of visitors take their assessment which helps them to generate more leads. A landing page and assessment offers consultants a way to effectively automate their lead generation process in a way that results in more conversions.
Unlock the power of maturity models by creating your own custom maturity assessment through Survey Anyplace today! Templates are provided to ensure that designing your maturity assessment is simple. Your clients are given immediate yet highly personalized feedback through fully branded PDF reports which can be downloaded instantly. The easy-to-use Survey Anyplace platform provides you with all the tools you need to diagnose your client’s performance levels and provide automated advice on how to improve.