Exploring the 7 Domains of Process Maturity

In previous editions, we’ve discussed the Seven Tenet of Process ManagementTM, which looks at key tenets such as strategic alignment or governance or that are vital for ensuring BPM teams provide sustainable value. Tenets such as strategic alignment, change management, and governance are necessary to make sure that the efforts of the BPM team support the organizations strategy and goals. Which falls in what we refer to as “above the flow” process work. While understanding the underpinning elements for success of a program is invaluable, the same criteria cannot manage the maturity of the processes of the organization. That requires a different model with a distinct set of criteria or in this case domains to assess the processes or what we often refer to as “in the flow” process work.

Process Maturity Model

 Process Maturity Model

Figure 1

In this article we will discuss the seven domains that organizations should use to manage or audit the health their processes.

Process Knowledge

Process knowledge includes all the assets (people, expertise, and content) required to execute a business process. Hence, the process knowledge domain expands upon the traditional process documentation concept to includes accessibility to information, training, documentation, inclusion and access to subject matter expertise, and communities.

What Good Looks Like

The ability to quickly locate all versions of process knowledge is a critical differentiator for the organization. In mature processes, information is pushed or targeted to individuals based on their role. Complete and accurate process knowledge means the subject matter experts are identified and documented. Also, subject matter experts are available and regular knowledge review sessions. Process knowledge documentation includes information on the age of the document relative to the number of reviews/audits it has undergone, localization, customization and tailoring of the process documentation. The documentation also has communication workflows (e.g., subscriptions to changes), and integration—such as hyperlinking—with other documentation or reference materials.


Risk management represents the capability to identifying and mitigating circumstances that may adversely affect the performance of a process.

What Good Looks Like

The process has identifies all relevant risks and developed mitigation plans. This can also include risks associated with people, staffing, interactions with suppliers and consumers; inputs, timeliness, completeness, and quality of inputs; enabling capabilities of the process, including policies, standards, and regulatory environment.

Tools and Technology

Tools and technology contribute to overall process maturity by enabling capabilities that would otherwise be economically infeasible. When available, the process needs to leverage the capabilities of the environment—tools and technology. However, if each process uses its own tools rather than the commonly available toolset, the process’ maturity tends to be much lower.

What Good Looks Like


The process includes automated process measurement and reporting tools, typically in conjunction with workflow or other automation. In many cases, more mature organizations will leverage tools to automate business processes, resulting in advanced services oriented architecture and systems integration capabilities.

End-to-end Process Integration

End-to-end processes are comprised of multiple sub-processes. The degree of integration between the sub-processes and the end-to-end process, and among the sub-processes is a good indicator of the maturity of a business process. What this means is that the process is assessed and improved within the context of how it affects the other processes (upstream and downstream) and the overarching goals of the end-to-end process.

What Good Looks Like

The process is well integrated with its relevant end-to-end process and its other sub-processes. This means there is clarity on how the process provides value and that the overall goals of the end-to-end are considered and when changes are implemented, they are complimentary and incorporated into end-to-end processes.

Process Performance

Process performance is intended to measure the performance of the process through a few performance measures which include adoption and usability of the process, as well as its efficiency and effectiveness.

What Good Looks Like

The process includes clarity around the individuals and other processes that depend upon it. It incorporates customer needs and requirements and meets those needs within time and cost constraints. It will also consistently meet both effectiveness (output that meets or exceeds quality expectations) and efficiency (outputs produced in a timely manner with the absolute minimum required inputs like cost) goals.

Roles and Responsibilities

Processes are executed by people or systems. The relationship of the person or system is defined by their role played in relation to the process. Typically, the role has two key attributes:

  1. definition – if the role is clearly defined or not, and
  2. capability – if the assigned system or person has the skill or ability needed to perform the assigned role in an efficient and effective manner.

Role and responsibility definitions typically include the name of the role, any responsibilities, and a list of any required training or skills. If the role is executed by a system, the process should identify the system by name and contact person.

What Good Looks Like

The process clearly identifies, documents, and communicates the needs and responsibilities of each role related to the process. It also includes regular role capability monitoring. And where the capability is insufficient to ensure efficiency and effectiveness, the process owner identifies remediation actions necessary to meet the desired efficiency and effectiveness goals.


Process measures refer to the embedded measurement capability of the process rather than the actual performance of the process. This includes the various types of measures (cost, cycle time, efficiency, effectiveness, productivity, value, etc.) and how the measures are identified and used in the process and various management systems. In many cases the measurement domain will be tightly coupled with the tools and technology domain since automation is a key enabler for metrics.

What Good Looks Like

The process will have a good mix of measures identified that are related to the value that the process provides or key improvement areas. Or it will have measures that align with how the process’ output impacts the outcome of a specific customer need.


A well-designed process audit should align to the organization’s strategic goals and uses a process maturity model. To capture the overall maturity and health of each process requires rolling up ratings foreach domain. However, the details of assessing the process by the domains should enable you to identify the root cause of potential issues and strategically invest in improvements for the process and ensure it has the right support, governance, and management capabilities.

Holly Lyke-Ho-Gland
Holly Lyke-Ho-GlandPrincipal Research Lead, Process & Performance Management, APQC

Building on more than 10 years of business research and consulting experience, Holly Lyke-Ho-Gland is a principal research lead who conducts and publishes APQC research on process management and improvement, quality, project management, measurement, and benchmarking for APQC’s Process and Performance Management research team. Her research supports APQC members and clients across disciplines and centers on helping professionals and project managers solve business problems with strategy, process and measurement.

Holly regularly partners with other APQC research leads to look at improving the end-to-end business processes in areas such as procure-to-pay or order-to-cash where true improvement rests in the entire process versus one functional department. On a biannual basis, she conducts APQC’s extensive research survey and report on The Value of Benchmarking as well as annual surveys and reports on how organizations adopt and use the Process Classification Framework®.

She is a regular contributor for APQC’s blogs on topics of process and performance management, benchmarking, and IT and organizes monthly webinars on these topics for APQC members and subscribers. A few of her more in-depth research reports include, Transformational Change: Making It Last and The Value of Benchmarking.

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