There are many paths to Enlightenment (the Stairway to Heaven)
We're starting to see the more widespread use of maturity models for designing the “Network Centric Next Generation Smart Mine of the Future”. Maturity models have been in common use in mining for specific applications, such as for business improvement, maintenance assessment and IT service delivery. These models are usually focussed on process maturity. That is, by measuring different aspects of the quality of business processes (e.g. governance, QA, documentation, deployment) you can develop a set of stages of progression that can be used as benchmarks and planning targets (roadmaps).
The mining industry is, however, showing signs of widespread progress up these levels and the leading operations in many major mining companies are driving improvements in collaboration by implementing new technology to speed up the core mining processes. These technology improvements are opening up different business models, for example:
The majority of mining companies are still focused on operational efficiency and integrating across the value chain – hence levels 1 and 2. Innovators have jumped over the “wall of internal collaboration”, which requires significant changes to the operating model, in particular in the way in which they embrace new roles and responsibilities for collaborative working and strategic partnerships.
Maturity Model Progression
The collaborative maturity model design takes the extent and scope of collaboration as the main focus for maturity progression. Ascending the maturity stairway requires new collaborative business models that give rise to better (more mature) levels of collaboration.These maturity models are useful only when the characteristics of each level are clearly described and can be used to develop plans and roadmaps to increase the levels of maturity.
The industry that has demonstrated the most progress over the last 20 years in raising their level of maturity through the implementation of different operating models has been the transport and logistics industry, particularly that servicing aerospace and defence clients. When 300 companies from a mixture of industries were surveyed in detail to assess their level of supply chain maturity (Poirier 2004), the major factor differentiating levels of maturity was found to be collaboration across the value chain based on the level of ‘connectedness’ of business processes and people within a business, and between a business and its suppliers and customers.
This collaborative supply chain maturity model has been adapted (Farrelly and Records, 2007) to suit the multi-site and federated nature of a mining enterprise, and it forms an overall framework for the development of more detailed maturity models for specific purposes.
This is the move from “master-slave” relationships to “win-win” partnerships. Difficulties in implementing such changes are to be expected, and require intense management focus to ensure this step is successful. Further advancement, while still challenging, is no longer such a leap in the dark.
In addition to designing a higher performing business, this maturity model can be also used by a company to assess its current situation in relation to its peers and its collaborators. If a company is less mature than its peers, or one business function is less mature than another, then the entire business is likely to be operating at a lower level of performance than it could be. Any mismatch between the maturity of operation of any part of the network of partners also leads to inefficiencies and poor information exchange at the boundaries. The network is only as good as its weakest link.
Dimensions of maturity
For practical application, a maturity model needs to be divided into components or dimensions that can be assessed in an objective way. These dimensions need to be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive, and for the Network Centric Mine, this works best when the dimensions cover the whole organisational system namely: People, Process, Technology, Information and Culture.
Building the Maturity Model
In practice, maturity models are best constructed each time for the specific scope of effort, and in a mining application they should be focussed on just the first three levels of maturity, since most mining companies will be at maturity level 1 for most dimensions of each component.
So rather than building a 5 level maturity model based on comparisons with other industries, we believe it is more useful to rescale the model to cover the range up to and including best practice for the local industry. That is, what may rank as level 3 on a generic maturity model (compared to world’s best practice) becomes level 5 on the localised version. This allows the current practices to be assessed over multiple levels and guidance given in more finely calibrated levels. The higher levels must be achievable if they are to be useful as guidance.
Experience teaches us that the technology changes enabling this transformation will only be successful if they are part of a well designed business innovation program and undertaken together with synchronised changes to people, process, information and culture.