A simpler sourcing maturity assessment approach

Knowing how to procure your IT services, software and hardware is a vital function in any organisation. Assessing one’s maturity in this aspect can be complex, which is why SURF developed a simpler approach.

There are a number of perspectives to take on IT and its place in an organisation, but for further and higher education institutions, the procurement or sourcing of services – in the widest sense of the word ‘services’ – may be among the most important ones. With the ongoing move to cloud provisioning, determining where a particular service is going to come from and how it is managed is crucial.

A number of approaches to measure and improve an organisation’s maturity in this area exist, but, as Bert van Zomeren points out in the EUNIS paper that presents the SURF Sourcing Maturity Assessment Approach, these are quite complex. They can be so sophisticated that organisations hire consultancies that it do it for them. The SURF method doesn’t go quite as deep as those exercises, but is a much easier first step.

The heart of the approach is simple: a champion identifies the key stakeholders in the organisation with regard to the sourcing process, each of the stakeholders fills out the questionnaire, the results are analysed, the stakeholders meet, and appropriate adjustments to the process are agreed upon.

As in many of these approaches, the questions in the questionnaire describe an ideal situation, and respondents are asked to rank their organisation on how closely they think their organisation resembles that ideal on a scale. Some of these ideals may be uncontroversial, but it is certainly possible that others do provoke debate – adapting processes to suit services, rather than the other way round, for example. Still, such a debate can be a valuable input into the wider maturation process.

I’ve just translated the questionnaire into English, and it has been made available as a combination Google form and spreadsheet. To test it yourself, you need to sign into Google drive, put the form and spreadsheet into your drive, then make copies. The spreadsheet has two sheets: one that gathers the data and another that turns the data into a crude, but extensible report.

It’d probably be a good idea to read van Zomeren and Levinson’s short EUNIS paper before you start. There is a much more extensive guide to the approach in Dutch as well, but we thought we’d gather some feedback first before translating that as well. A guide of that sort will almost certainly be necessary in order to use the simpler sourcing maturity assessment approach in anger at an institution.