TIPA: Capability or Maturity Assessment?

Alain Renault, Senior R&D Engineer, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) Luxembourg

What is the difference between Capability and Maturity Assessment? Which of these concepts is TIPA? You may have been asked the questions by your customers. To answer the question we’ve asked the expert Alain Renault to explain the difference between the two concepts and where TIPA stands. And find out in exclusivity the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) plans to develop a maturity model reflecting ISO/IEC 20000-1.

It seems that there is confusion between Capability and Maturity Assessment. Can you help us with these two concepts?

Alain Renault:Capability Assessment is targeting at individual processes with a snapshot on current practices for each assessed process whereas Maturity Assessment provides a snapshot of  sets of processes within an organization (it can be limited to a single unit or department, or targeting at the whole organization).

TIPA, as a process assessment framework, offers a structured solution to determine process capability. Capability Assessment enables to assess processes individually and to target the improvement effort on the processes.

Maturity Assessments go a bit further and group processes in levels of maturity, which enables to get a single rating for a set of assessed processes in an organization. Even if it enables to determine the growing ability of an organization to achieve higher levels of process capability, this grouping of processes within a set of structured levels may sometimes be too rigid.

Let’s take an example. If you think your service is suffering from possible weaknesses, you can decide to assess the capability of one or several processes that you think are responsible for that situation. In that case, the assessment and improvement efforts are really targeted on the small set of processes at the origin of the problem(s). On the other hand, if you decide to perform a maturity assessment up to a certain level of maturity, the maturity model will tell you which processes you need to assess. The purpose is there often more to demonstrate that the organization has reached a certain level of maturity.

So TIPA is a Capability Assessment framework, but it contains many references to “process maturity”. How should it be interpreted?

Alain Renault: The term “maturity” relates to the degree of formality and optimization of processes. It is true that it  is supposed to be used in the context of Maturity Assessment only, to characterize the organization, whereas capability should preferably be used for processes. However we found that many people were not familiar with this concept of capability. So when TIPA was published in 2009 we took the decision to talk about process maturity, which seemed to be much more intuitive for many.

No plans for a TIPA Maturity Model?

Yes, we have many plans 😉

More seriously, we are often asked how TIPA compares to ISO/IEC 20000-1. We plan to develop a maturity model reflecting the standards requirements. It will be then possible to use this maturity model as an additional layer for structuring TIPA assessments or improvement initiatives. It will help defining priorities when an ISO 20000 certification is aimed.

About TIPA® for ITIL®

Assess and Improve Your IT Processes with the TIPA Framework. TIPA is an internationally-recognized framework for IT process assessment. The TIPA framework offers a turnkey solution to determine the maturity levels for IT processes aligned with IT best practices. TIPA also enables process improvements. TIPA for ITIL® successfully combines the well-known process-assessment standard, ISO/IEC 15504, with IT Service Management best practices described in ITIL.