Operational Maturity Levels and Your Business

March 30th, 2016 | Business Operations, IT Audits

Operational Maturity Level (OML) is a fundamental model for measuring the maturity of managed IT services providers and the businesses they serve. Aligning the OML of your business to that of the MSP you’re considering is necessary to ensuring the provider can meet your needs.

Many businesses believe all IT services providers are the same, or assume they can be categorized by cost and size. However, when comparing managed service providers (MSP) the most important factor is the operational maturity levels (OML) of the firms you’re considering.

OML may be a foreign term to your company, but it’s comprised of the same attributes that generate success for any business model. The stages of operational maturity are ranked on a one to five scale; one being the most rudimentary of IT environments and five being a business with the most mature and innovative IT processes. Today, all businesses need technology to operate. Therefore, the OML model can be applied to both an IT services provider and your own business. In fact, it’s imperative to analyze the OML of your company to ensure a potential MSP’s processes can align with your business goals.

The OML model indicates there’s always a next step to mature your offerings, or the way you deliver your offerings. It’s founded upon what you do and how do you do it.”

David Schafran (President of Transformation Strategies)

Business Operational Maturity Level explained

The difference between the OMLs of managed IT services providers depends upon the standardization of the internal and external processes they employ, their competency in the services they provide, and the value they place upon IT investments. An MSP with a low OML (level one or two) generally lacks the uniformity of resources and knowledge of operations to run a business effectively.

An immature IT services provider may not have an established method of handling internal processes and client requests. Less mature MSPs usually resort to a “break-fix” approach when serving the needs of a client’s IT environment and lack the discipline to adhere to standard operations in times of crisis. The provider may yield products and services that work but fail to complete projects within the designated time frame and budget. Overall, MSPs with lower operational maturity levels deliver services focused upon maintaining the stability of your organization’s IT environment instead of producing strategies that enable your technology to grow your business.

Managed IT services providers with level two OMLs have generally reached a point where processes are more standardized and repeated but complete uniformity has not been achieved.

At a level three OML, the MSP has established an overall consistency throughout the organization and within the services it delivers. The provider is capable of developing strategic plans to drive your business via your IT environment as opposed to merely keeping it afloat.

Managed IT services providers that have reached the operational maturity of a level four or five have learned to leverage IT effectively. The IT outsourcing provider will deliver consistent service and support, a stable business environment, and proactive monitoring of your IT environment.

The difference between a level four and a level five MSP exists primarily in the more mature provider’s ability to enhance your IT environment to help your business gain a competitive edge within your industry. An MSP with a high operational maturity level will act as a trusted provider and a trusted partner for your organization.

The advantages of a high OML IT outsourcing provider

The factors that distinguish between the operational maturities of MSPs may seem abstract and difficult to apply to your business. However, the MSP’s standardization of processes and ability to provide your organization with proactive and innovative ways to use technology will build the foundation for your company’s growth.

A managed IT services provider with a high OML will usually provide 24/7/365 network monitoring, a pool of subject matter experts, proactive planning, scheduled business reviews, and technology foresight to enhance your business. The MSP will have standardized technology, well-structured databases, and data management, and awareness of the potential value investing in IT can offer your company.

More mature IT outsourcing providers will hire the most qualified and knowledgeable staff and document all processes, so even if the employee managing your account leaves their position, there will be someone available who’s aware of your IT environment’s needs and your business goals.

Aligning business operational maturity levels

As a rule of thumb, the MSP you choose should have managed IT services as their core business model. If the MSP specializes in an industry other than managed IT services, they may be incapable of supplying the same scope of knowledge and level of services as a specialized MSP.

It’s imperative to select a provider whose operational maturity level is high enough to serve your business. However, it’s equally as important that your business is capable of carrying out the solutions the MSP implements. More mature IT services providers will design strategies for a more mature business environment. If your company does not have the organization, staff, or ability to standardize processes, you may be unable to integrate the MSP’s plans into your business effectively.

IT outsourcing providers with a higher OML will require your business to be actively engaged in scheduled business reviews and consultation meetings. If your company does not have the time to manage these obligations or the executive team is unwilling to cooperate, the MSP will be unable to function as an asset to your company.

Aldridge delivers high-level services and technology foresight that enable our organization to serve as both a trusted provider and a valued partner to your business. Talk to our IT outsourcing team today to see how our experience and knowledge of IT services can help your company reach its goals.