Vaughan Merlyn writes this post with the experience of over 20 years in designing and facilitating IT capability assessments. Merlyn sums up some of his findings and expresses what makes the best IT capabilities and the levels that are most beneficial to achieve. In discussing the actual application of assessments, for instance, he explains the importance of repeatability:
The process should be repeatable. Like a meaningful scientific experiment, the process should lend itself to repetition with consistent results. In fact, repetition over time may well be important to sustained investment in capability improvement activities. Too many assessments are conducted, discussed and then swept under the table. This is a travesty! Not only is the assessment wasted effort, but it may also be that much harder, or even impossible, to get people to participate in future assessments. “Why should I bother — the last time we did this it went nowhere!” is a fairly common refrain.
Furthermore, the results of assessments should be actionable. That is, there should be a clear indication of what needs to be addressed, how to address it, and what will need to be done in order for a given IT capability to be optimized. Merlyn goes on to explain how the results should be “multi-dimensional”: they should increase performance, value, and overall health of the team (are people working 20 hour days, or are they getting chances to step away from the cubicle?).