For this paper, we have identified a list of 32 characteristic symptoms that is often discussed during assessments, generated by two experienced assessors who had undertaken maturity assessments in more than 300 companies. We then use cognitive mapping and the “five whys” technique to look beyond the symptoms and reveal the underlying problems or causes of the problems. Following that, we evaluate our findings through the design and evaluation of a web-based tool where users can score statements based on a formulation of the symptoms. This enables us to recommend to users the areas where they probably need to improve. We designed the tool in three learning cycles of design evaluation and ended up in a summative evaluation where we compared the outcome of using the website tool with a CMMI maturity assessment. We conclude that a systematic quest for symptoms coupled with scoring statements based on the symptoms can point to improvement areas. However, we conclude that doing so is no substitute for a maturity assessment; the scoring of statements cannot reveal the maturity of the organization, but it can quickly and easily point in a useful direction and provide recommendations for going in that direction.
- cognitive map
- process improvement