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What is Your Collaboration Maturity Level?

Over the past several years, there has been a growing interest across the SharePoint community in understanding how collaboration systems and procedures compare to others within the industry. One of the most well-known efforts to classify SharePoint maturity was organized by Sadalit Van Buren (@sadalit) who now works for Microsoft. Her SharePoint Maturity Model (SPMM) adeptly classified the stages of development, and provided clear guidance on identifying performance against each stage. More recently, a SharePoint Governance Maturity Model (GMM) was developed by Melinda Morales (@trulyMelinda) at GTconsult to more closely identify and measure management and governance of a SharePoint environment.

Social collaboration can be difficult to measure, as there are so many tools and capabilities available to the enterprise, and their benefits span many different areas — from communication to knowledge capture to discovery.

One resource which I often recommend is the Enterprise Social Collaboration Progression Model (June 2013) developed jointly by the University of Arizona Eller College of Management and Microsoft. In this 23-page whitepaper, the authors do a great job of outlining the maturity model for social collaboration in a way that very much aligns with the SPMM. At some point, I would love to see Sadie update her model, expanding her data with the output of this whitepaper to provide a more holistic view over structured (SharePoint) and unstructured (social) collaboration maturity.

Measuring SharePoint maturity with the help of Beezy

The University of Arizona and Microsoft team define their research as follows:

“This paper presents a progression model of the emerging social collaboration paradigm to determine current states and future plans for instituting social collaboration strategies. The framework is organized by six phases and an initial overview of divisional/functional applications of enterprise social collaboration. A CEO or CIO can use the model as a general road map to identify opportunities in entering or improving an organization’s use of social collaboration technologies and methods to achieve greater communication efficiencies.

The progression model focuses on collaboration between employees, partners, suppliers, and consumers, but does not include topics such as social marketing, brand awareness, sales, and non‐integrated partners.”

Applying the Maturity Model

Within their model, the authors define their six stages as:

Basic, which is the use of traditional communication tools, such as email and basic document sharing, with limited infrastructure and informal (if any) processes in place.
Standardized, where an organization has taken the first steps toward adopting social tools and practices, although not enterprise-wide.
Rationalized, when an organization has standardized and documented the social tools that are used and supported across the company, with a defined strategy (or different strategies by business unit) and functional goals.
Dynamic – Internal Integration, where an organization has linked their various social strategies to an overall enterprise strategy, has developed some degree of centralized oversight or management, and has begun to integrate social activities and measurements into business processes and systems.
Dynamic – Holistic Integration, which involves internal and external integration of software and services, revolving around a centralized internal platform and high levels of customization to link social activities to specific tools and business processes, as well as initiatives to drive adoption and engagement (gamification).
Dynamic – Innovative, which is the use of advanced social collaboration tools and techniques, beyond what is available and is used in the mainstream, to drive the creation of intellectual property and generate competitive advantage.

After defining the characteristics, prerequisites, obstacles and impacts of each stage of their maturity model, the authors then go on to provide some guidance on applying their model for sales and marketing teams, product development, operations and distribution, customer support, and business support.

Getting Started

While this “Where Do I Begin?” content is a nice add, it really just scrapes the surface of how a company should interpret their results and move forward on a strategy. I made similar comments around Sadie’s work on the SharePoint Maturity Model. It is a great method for measuring and tracking the maturity of your SharePoint implementation, to help you better understand areas where you can improve and optimize, but the model and its outputs do not equal a SharePoint strategy in and of itself.

The intent of measuring your social collaboration (or SharePoint) maturity should be to get a more holistic view of where you are as an organization, and to present your leadership team and key influencers with talking points for improving and optimizing your strategy.

How companies rate themselves can be somewhat subjective. While this type of maturity model can help normalize some definitions, how you define and execute your strategy for moving to the next level (if that is part of your strategy) might be very different from the strategies I apply within my organization. You cannot optimize what you do not measure. Following a maturity model like this is a great way to get started in your measurements, to draw a line in the sand, and to begin to improve your social collaboration capabilities.

And when you’re ready to improve the out-of-the-box social collaboration capabilities of SharePoint, contact us for a demonstration of the dynamic and innovative feature set within Beezy.

Christian Buckley

Christian Buckley

Chief Marketing Officer for Beezy. Passionate about all things collaboration & social. Office365 MVP.

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