Skip to main content
photo
 
Existing interoperability maturity models

A number of interoperability maturity models provide some guidance to governments interested in developing or improving their ability to work effectively in network forms of organization. Table 1 lists a few of these models. These models define both specific types of capability and levels of maturity related to specific disciplines or government policy areas. Of note, this table does not include an exhaustive list of interoperability and capability maturity models but provides a selected list of those that capture the complex multidimensional nature of government interoperability.

Table 1. Existing Interoperability Maturity Model Examples
Policy Area or Discipline
 
Model
 
Year Released
 
Software development and systems engineering
 
Capability Maturity Model for Software (CMM), Carnegie Mellon
 
1986
 
Levels of Information Systems Interoperability (LISI), Carnegie Mellon
 
1998
 
Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), Carnegie Mellon
 
2000
 
Defense
 
Organizational Interoperability Maturity Model for C2(OIMM), Australian Defence Science and Technology Organization
 
1999 and revised in 2003
 
Criminal Justice
 
Increasing Information Sharing Effectiveness: A Capability Assessment Model for the Justice Enterprise, Center for Technology in Government
 
2005
 
Government Digital Information Preservation
 
Building State Government Digital Preservation Partnerships: A Capability Assessment and Planning Toolkit, Version 1.0, Center for Technology in Government
 
2005
 
More Generic Government Services (often referred to as e-government)
 
IT Investment Management Framework (ITIM), U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO)
 
2004
 
Interoperability Maturity Model (EIMM), European Union
 
2005
 
Government Interoperability Maturity Matrix (GIMM), Sarantis, Charalabidis, and Psarras
 
2008
 

Most interoperability maturity models reference the Carnegie Mellon Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and the Carnegie Mellon Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). These models were first developed in the 1980s for software development and systems engineering efforts and continue to be refined today.2 Within the last ten years several other models have been developed. In general, these models expand their perspectives beyond a technology development perspective (i.e., software development or implementation) and focus on the required mix of policy, management, as well as technology capabilities to achieve the broader goal of improved delivery of government services and programs.

Table 2. Examples of Interoperability Maturity Levels
Model
 
Level 1
 
Level 2
 
Level 3
 
Level 4
 
Level 5
 
CMMI
 
Initial
 
Managed
 
Defined
 
Quantitatively
Managed
 
Optimizing
 
ITIM
 
Creating investment awareness
 
Building the investment foundation
 
Developing a complete investment portfolio
 
Improving the investment process
 
Leveraging IT for strategic outcomes
 
LISI
 
Isolated
 
Connected
 
Functional
 
Domain
 
Enterprise
 
IMM
 
Initial
 
Managed
 
Defined
 
Measured
 
Optimized
 
OIMM
 
Independent
 
Cooperative
 
Collaborative
 
Combined
 
Unified
 
EIMM
 
Performed
 
Modeled
 
Integrated
 
Interoperable
 
Optimizing
 
GIMM
 
Independent
 
Ad hoc
 
Collaborative
 
Integrated
 
Unified
 

A variety of models have been developed to guide thinking across a continuum of interoperability maturity. Each adopts a unique vocabulary to express the levels and ideas, however, the models are in general consistent in terms of their characterization of interoperability capability maturity on scales ranging from low to high (see Table 2):
  • An organization with a low level of interoperability is characterized as working independently or in isolation from other organizations and in an ad hoc or inconsistent manner.
  • An organization with a high level of interoperability is characterized as being able to work with other organizations in a unified or enterprise way to maximize the benefits of collaboration across organizations and across multiple government investments or projects (i.e., multiple networks).
In the middle of these maturity scales, fall those organizations that have developed some capabilities needed to collaborate, integrate, or cooperate with other organizations. However, this medium level of capability to be interoperable tends to be ad hoc, limited in scope (i.e., specific to a single network or policy or program area), and difficult to repeat or reproduce with other organizations or networks.

The existing interoperability maturity models also include a diverse mix of elements (e.g., areas of concern, goals, and interoperability attributes) considered essential to creating government interoperability (see Table 3). These elements cover what we refer to as dimensions of capability (or capability dimensions) needed for interoperability (Cresswell et al 2005b).

Table 3. Examples of Capability Dimensions from Three Selected Maturity Models3
EIMM (areas of concern)
 
IMM (goals)
 
GIMM (interoperability attributes)
 
  • Enterprise Modeling
  • Business Strategy and Processes
  • Organization and Competences
  • Products and Services
  • Systems and Technology
  • Legal Environment, Security and Trust
 
  • Metadata
  • Business Focus
  • Standards Basis
  • Governance
  • Scalability
  • Configurability
 
  • Government Process and Alignment
  • Compatibility with eGovernment Legislation Issues
  • Interoperability at Local Level
  • Interoperability at National Level
  • Connectivity with Central Government Gateways
  • Existence of Common XML-based Data Schemas
 

We use the term capability dimensions to make explicit the fact that each of these elements represents a mix of policy, management, and technology elements. For example, achieving Interoperability at Local Level in the GIMM model arguably involves a mix of policy, management, as well as technology dimensions. The same case can be made for Metadata in the IMM model and Legal, Environment, Security, and Trust in the EIMM model. As a result, one challenge government managers face in applying these existing interoperability maturity models is recognizing that each of these capability dimensions requires a mix of diverse yet interdependent and interacting capabilities to improve interoperability. This challenge contributes to the already complex, risky, and costly process of improving government interoperability. Understanding, and where appropriate, unpacking the capability dimensions, is a necessary part of the government interoperability development process. The remainder of this paper will layout an alternative way of thinking about interoperability and interoperability maturity and propose a new framework for governments to use in their efforts to improve government interoperability.

2The Capability Maturity Model for Software (also known as the CMM and SW-CMM) was developed in the mid to late 1980s and retired in the late 1990s-early 2000s. CMM was replaced by the CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration). For more information, visit the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute’s Web site at http://www.sei.cmu.edu/cmm/.
3 This table includes only some of the capability dimensions identified in each of the three models presented. For a complete list of the capabilities identified in each model, please see the list of references at the end of this document.