A framework we’ve found useful in assessing progress along a continuum is the Capability Maturity Model. Within any company, there will always be processes at different levels of maturity:
Initial – the process is new, ad hoc, chaotic and undocumented. Individual heroics are relied upon to get the job done. The focus is on outputs.
Repeatable – the process is somewhat documented. Repeating the same steps may be attempted. It’s not clear if the process will yield desired outputs.
Defined – the process is well defined, documented and confirmed as a standard process that can produce results.
Managed – the process is quantitatively managed in accordance with agreed-upon metrics.
Optimizing – process management includes deliberate process optimization and improvement.