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Process Transformations That

Sustain Distance Training
A Blend of the Best of Common
Maturity Models into a Framework
Allison Kipta and Zane L. Berge

Organizations striving to improve business processes are often faced with seem-
ingly unmanageable but required changes that must take place, and often turn to
use of a maturity model as a strategic tool for change management. Maturity mod-
els are used to build a framework for implementing process improvement in
stages, from least effective to highly ordered and efficient. As the adoption of e-
learning in the workplace becomes more widespread, development of a strategy
for improving the processes that drive it becomes a critical element of its success.
This article explores several existing process models and suggests employing a
blend of the best elements of each in building a framework for sustaining distance
training in the workplace.

Allison L. Kipta, 1610 Auburn Ct., Zane L. Berge, University of Maryland
Westminster, MD 21157. Telephone: Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle,
(240) 299-0535. E-mail: Baltimore, MD 21250. Telephone: (410) 455-2306. E-mail:

Volume 3, Issue 2 Distance Learning 13

(2001) warn that although and future vision to develop a viable strat. Lesser known and specific to para. Where ongoing programs are distance training program are integrated in transformed into delivery at a distance. readiness frameworks or maturity education revealed inability to deal with models in planning. recommends focusing on change from rity model helps establish a clear and start to finish.J ournalist Lloyd Dobyns describes organization’s growth and development change as disruptive. pro- all change initiatives fail. a the process of change. Champi- successful process. measuring. but the change strategy itself is critical. lifecycle process so a change process can be and frightening. and Miller (2001) is reflected (LM3). is a necessary element of organizational and examines how factors for sustaining a maturity. Issue 2 . among the organization’s members. 1998. Curtis et al. Implementing change ons. difficulty recruit- Model (CMM). cle explores stages of organizational According to Berge (2001). “Responses placed Among the most common are Carnegie in this category included: faculty or stu- Mellon University Software Engineering dent resistance to innovation. Communications. learning organizations are THINQ’s Organizational culture as defined by Learning Management Maturity Model Curtis. ment strategies. Still. This arti. CMU/SEI’s People Capabil- ing faculty or students. building. project management approach is helpful. One of the key ductivity. tion’s performance. able change. no change can effective. organizations often fail to 14 Distance Learning Volume 3. riers to online learning. nearly 70% of change. be worse. (OPM3). resistance to Institute’s (CMU/SEI) Capability Maturity online teaching methods. Starting early is important. and Change. and TO ACHIEVE SUSTAINABILITY involves establishing an environment for According to Branch (2002). complicated. and eLearning Capabil. The needs assessment formed through the use of process stan- should consider obtaining a baseline of the dards. reasons organizations fail to successfully change management moves an organiza- implement change is in neglecting to con. tion toward its goals and improves the duct an organizational needs assessment capabilities of its leaders to drive sustain- to gain understanding of the organiza. project management theo. A survey of online teachers in higher ries. cultural change maturity. must be sustained long enough to beat old Many organizations already employ habits and become the preferred way of one of the hundreds of change manage. and Project Management Institute’s Organizational of distance education and what works at a Project Management Maturity Model distance” (Berge. 2001) ensures an organization and its people are THE PROCESS OF CHANGE capable of executing a business plan. By improving performance. Cultural Barriers. and competencies. 1). lack understanding ity Maturity Model (P-CMM). Change management (Rosenberg. Online Course Design Maturity in shared values and the resulting patterns Model (OCDMM). Resistance to change in an Rosenberg (2001) spells out what can organizational culture is often identified as make or break an elearning endeavor in one of the primary obstacles to sustaining a his “Four C’s of Success: Culture.” and in increments through the use of a matu. external environment. of behavior that characterize interactions ities Maturity Model (eL-CMM). learning. an organization’s culture can be trans- egy for change. cultural changes as the largest class of bar- and managing processes and products. It formations. Hefley. and motivation of the workforce. demonstrable framework for process trans. capabilities.

the workforce operates at the level of maturity and continuous process unit level. 16). Level 1—The Initial Level. 2004). In general. where level one typically represents an detached workforce. According to Systems tions. ritualistic practices. At the Repeat- This decreases rework levels (SECAT. documenting processes. Issue 2 Distance Learning 15 . unclear performance objectives or Engineering Capability Assessment and feedback. descriptions of each of the five levels. created by a change in one or more provides a foundation on which more of the organization’s processes. Following are objectives. incurred by process improvement pro. vi). have the skills needed to perform their scribed processes. (2001) define a capability matu. levels. and build- a new level of capability within the organi. A maturity level represents level focus on unit-level issues. 1998). for exam. The ple (Wesman.. Although models are not maturity level as “a well-defined evolu- solutions in themselves. ad hoc state and a very low level of matu. “This capa- next higher level. Curtis et al. 2002). Level 3—The Defined Level. poor communication. A review of relevant assigned work and that performance is maturity model literature suggests using a regularly discussed to identify actions that maturity model to support change can improve it” (Curtis et al. With few exceptions. environment. Such models help manage chaotic rity Model is composed of five maturity periods of transformation as an organiza. and low level of maturity are identified as: improved effectiveness are three results Work overload. most practices. shows maturity as a organization’s capability for performing sequential progression through each of the work is best characterized by the ability of five capability levels. with ad hoc and inconsistent processes if rity model as “an evolutionary roadmap they have defined practices at all. lack of relevant knowledge or Training (SECAT). and MATURITY MODEL (PEOPLE CMM) providing a multistaged template for The CMU/SEI People Capability Matu- growth. (CMU/SEI) PEOPLE CAPABILITY try tool for assessing the needs of an orga- nization. and low helps an organization transition from fire. morale. they provide a tionary plateau that institutionalizes new conduit for change and a vehicle for capabilities for developing the organiza- expressing an organization’s goals and tion’s workforce” (p. although they are Volume 3. using a maturity model skill. maturity models are composed of five lev. The Ini- for implementing the vital practices from tial Level exhibits the following four char- one or more domains of organizational acteristics: Inconsistency in performing process” (p. While the organization may exhibit a stable duces several outcomes. an organization must bility is achieved by ensuring that people demonstrate achievement of a set of pre. pre. operate Curtis et al. environmental distrac- that can be expected. and level five represents the highest aged Level. Practices implemented at this improvement. 22). 2001. Level 2—The Managed Level. able or Defined Level. fighting to operating according to plan. ing workforce practices within each unit zation. displacement of responsibility. mented as the organization matures. attempt too much too soon (Branch. SOFTWARE ENGINEERING INSTITUTE’S A capability model is a standard indus. The CMU/ sophisticated processes can be imple- SEI Capability Maturity Model.implement them effectively because they CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY. are poorly equipped. and an emotionally els. At the Man- rity. Organizations at this maturity level have difficulty retain- MATURITY MODELS ing talent. (2001) describe each tion matures. To progress to the its units to meet commitments. p. frequent problems at this dictability. increased control.

Stage 2. “Maturity (or capabilities) in an organization’s dis- Level 5 organizations treat change man. 15-16): be performed in an orderly way on a regu.performing basic workforce practices. 1995). Practices nication. The primary objective at this ments. individual knowledge and effort. Performance depends on addressed. Level 5—The Optimizing Level. 2001. should be performed and when it is organizations are inconsistent in how they required. An organi. Stage 4. The organization LEARNING employs quantitative management activi- A four-stage model used by Berge (2001) to ties founded in the Predictable Level as a describe stages of technological maturity template for improvement. 2001). force processes. The organization has estab- (SPICE) lished a distance learning policy. Continuous begin integrating multidisciplinary work- process improvement is established. Issue 2 . standing of process capability. Performance is practices does not occur because the com.. Level 4—The Predictable Level. The organization’s technological SOFTWARE PROCESS IMPROVEMENT capability and infrastructure can support distance learning events. ity of its workforce in performing tasks. tance learning endeavors presents matu- agement as an ordinary business process to rity levels as such (pp. tracked. Separate or sporadic distance lar basis” (Curtis et al. The organi- forming work. Level 2—Planned-and-Tracked. Pro- this level (Curtis. tailored versions of docu- risk to the organization. it can organizational business goals. & Miller. leading to a quantitative under- and is able to predict the capability for per. within the organization that an action 2001) Stage 3 and Stage 4. mented organization-wide standards. Stage 1. Distance training and learning tional Standard for Software Process have been institutionalized in the organi- Assessment (SPICE. Mea- zation achieving the Predictable Level is sures of performance are collected and able to manage performance quantitatively analyzed. and well-defined using workforce competencies poses a severe approved. learning events occur in the organization. Absence of critical planned. to support the development of an Interna. commu- Level 1—Performed-Informally. Processes are business objectives. p. Products meet standards and require- been defined. cesses undergo continuous refinement and when when an organization is committed improvement and effectiveness and effi- ciency targets are established based on to competency-based processes. Level 4—Quantitatively-Controlled. It can use competency. There is Elements that foster organizational a general agreement among individuals change are present in transitions to (Berge. proce- SPICE is a major international initiative dures are in place. Hefley. and planning occurs. with a stable and 16 Distance Learning Volume 3. performance that is objectively managed. level is to develop competencies to achieve Level 3—Well-Defined. AND CAPABILITY DETERMINATION Stage 3. zation has an improved ability to predict based processes and measure the capabil. 27). based on specified procedures and is veri- mon core of knowledge and skill have not fied. zation as characterized by policy. are applied across units—and in general-. At Level 5—Continuously-Improving. Processes the entire enterprise. The entire organization is focused on continual MATURITY MODELS SPECIFIC TO improvement at Level 5. and practice that are aligned so of processes are not rigorously planned that business objectives are being and tracked. Standardization of are planned and tracked.

the Internet on an optional. At this resources. 2004) are evidenced in a workforce development. so that the work done by (LM3) described below. of the following stages: aged Learning stage. The Opti- mized Workforce stage. budgeting. Issue 2 Distance Learning 17 . and discussion. Level 3—Awakening. Individual busi. 2004. 4). consisting Stage II—Managed Learning. during. New technologies play a information between face-to-face sessions. Stage V-Optimized Workforce. a consistent approach Level 1—Initial. used to manage learning. students and faculty form partner- content is part of the policy. learning and performance man- identification and selection of content and agement are institutionalized and inte- of technology to deliver distance training. para. In Stage I there is no before. 2004. success in share- THINQ LEARNING MANAGEMENT holder value and net worth are measured. ONLINE COURSE DESIGN MATURITY comes. ness units may adopt and implement their 1). and has access to training activity basis. The orga. Characteristics of the LM3 (Berge. The goal of the Initial to learning management is adopted and a phase is to introduce face-to-face students learning management strategy is defined to using communications technologies and executed. policymaking. and the learning that occurs Stage I—Ad Hoc. learning THINQ (2004). out. MATURITY MODEL (LM3) The organization has a flexible. A possibilities of online instruction for learning content management system enhanced learning outcomes. communication. Stage I-Ad Hoc. or if it even occurs. thinking and other management processes enable systematically. uniting instructional designers in the ulty and students are “awakened” to the content design and review process. and a high degree of positive change within an organization. are directly consistent process within the organization linked to the organization’s goals (THINQ. and after. between student and instructor and intro- nization focuses on building a learning cul. developed the five-stage an established approach for continuous Learning Management Maturity Model improvement. shared commitment to learning. own processes and tools to meet their needs. unregulated comes. strategize the use of multimedia Stage IV—Integrated Performance. In the Strategizing ized storage of learning assets. Using text in vari- tion.predictable process in place to facilitate the defined. key part in the efficiency of the organiza. a learning management and performance-centric structure and has software vendor. para. and therefore MODEL (OCDMM) operates at high risk due to a lack of Neuhauser’s (2004) proposed Online accountability. (LCMS) is in place and is used for central. 2001). Stage V—Optimized Workforce. the people. The organization is unable to quickly determine training costs. examines enhanced communication Stage III—Competency-Driven. fac- tion. The workforce engages in collabora. across the enterprise. Stage IV (THINQ. ships. accountability. ous formats. duces face-to-face students to Web-based ture in Stage III. The organization is able to such as email and document transfer on quickly determine training costs. The Exploring stage in place. the Web. Level 4—Strategizing. is another five-level framework. grated into the business planning process With a strategic planning process in place and visible. Reuse of phase. Evaluation tools are Level 2—Exploring. out. visibility and control Course Design Maturity Model (OCDMM) (THINQ. Volume 3. In the Man. and use group learning and stage the organizations strategy is well assessments.

A systematic approach for change method for evaluation is in place. The largest neglected (Seufert & Euler. Issue 2 . nizations can aim for a specific level or Change needs to happen. Bates (2000) and Levy (2003) list able for students. The Level 1—Ad Hoc.. Level 5—Integrating Best Practices. 1995). suggests that tural change this will not happen. According to stage. get groups. In discussing organizational require- tive learning environment that is manage. Moore in general. management and makes recommenda- 2001). and the addition of emerging ports and engages learning technologies to 18 Distance Learning Volume 3. and there is little organization uses a common set of tools or no organization to support develop. and simply increase cost and complexity. 2004). 2001). inconsistent practice. interdisciplinary team (Berge. by research accomplishments. 2003). The greatest inhibitor is lack of faculty interest in using the tech- nology for teaching. Related to Peo- tions for the management of distance ple CMM (Curtis et al. and emotional detachment. menting technology. Saba (2003). sociocultural their relation to the model. and in terms ing. so does the level to which IT sup- blackboard. Barriers to model as a framework (Moore. 2004) and an ele- reveal incomplete. ment is established. or a piece of chalk and a matures. “When the rewards for appointment. “As a learning organization board. Quick access to train- mance depends on individual knowledge ing activities is available and visible. or sporadic. behavior modification of the involved tar- taining distance training in the workplace. 2004). and processes for training development. a flipchart. At technology strategically. Level 2—Managed and Replicated. integrating a blend of best-practice ele. and establishment of a sys. management as a part of organizational The organization’s ability to develop a development. Fol. Levy. 2003. traditional face-to-face classroom teach- nence (Seufert & Euler. there is learning throughout the workforce. orga. displaced responsi- Use of distance training technology is bility. of distance training. At this level. (2004) characteristics of the Ad Hoc Level 2001. informal approaches mentary approach to learning manage- with unpredictable outcomes. 1). separate. challenge (Bates. and sensitive several organizational barriers to imple- to learners’ needs ((Neuhauser. technology is exploited to provide an effec. At the ments selected from the aforementioned Managed and Replicated level. motivating. THINQ. and create a changes have to be proactively supported strategy to reach their maturity goals. At this technological devices or processes would level all best processes are integrated. para. the dis- team responds to the needs of staff and tance training efforts are chaotic (Berge. ments. Technology-based A BLEND OF THE BEST teaching requires more skill and effort than Sustainability is an attempt for perma. THINQ supported across the enterprise (Berge. and without cul- the ad hoc level. Perfor. support for teaching/learn. A ment. through an maturity models. technology is a key factor in whether or tem of incentives are also typically not it will be used successfully. Employing a maturity into their teaching” (Bates. dis- tance training events are replicated. make assessments to benchmark Seufert and Euler (2003). change. means developing sta. 2000) is the failure to use Little or no technology is required. tenure and promotion are driven primarily ble structures that are integrated institu. faculty can teach with a white writes. systematic plan of action for using the ing outcomes. 2003). there is no tionally and result in fundamental changes incentive for professors to put more effort in instruction. The and effort (SPICE. in order to reach a permanent attitude and lowing is a proposed framework for sus. 2000. 2001).

” more (Moore. Level 5 organizations are “run- learning capabilities. personal responsibility is placed on learn- rity Through Relationships. Costing data is gathered regu- of content and of technology to deliver dis. The organization has learning is “inextricably linked to the orga- (Berge.” more sophisticated world in which learn- New learning technologies are instru. The organization has identified els are in place (THINQ. but it is The workforce is well prepared to succeed clear that setting up to use such technolo.cultivate a continuous learning culture” element of a sustainable change. Continuous and rapid ing culture at this level is a “fundamental correction can occur with little disruption Volume 3. centric in structure. programs” (Maskell. 1). ing technologies are interoperable—not mental (THINQ. and it becomes more important to pro- Level 3—Competent and Capable. warns of a misconception that use of mum business value from their e-learning communication and information technolo. 1) The organization is assessments of its distance training. para. Extending Learning Matu. Web-based resources (Neuhauser. 3). and other cesses” (p. 2000) and inter- assumption that efficiencies can be nal work and communication is online. ers. 2003) Level 5—Optimizing and Continually and utilizes Web technology to increase the Improving. and is considered technologically gies entails high infrastructure and staff advanced. The organization Level 4—Predictable and Stable. para. 5). and the transition from tions and sharing information. ning on all cylinders and driving maxi- ever. to other systems” (Moore. 1998). Success is measured in shareholder Performance is objectively managed” value (THINQ. the organi. and (SPICE. and learning and performance- and Euler (2003) find support for the learn. The workforce Use of shareable and reusable content moves from operating in “fire-fighting” becomes the norm. 2004) in improving the only sharing data but also providing value efficiency of the organization. performance support. and (Berge. determine appropriate methods for any standing of process capability and an given situation. and mentoring. 3). 2002) rather than mere “a stable and predictable process is in place reaction or perception are developed and to facilitate the identification and selection established. workgroup. Further Level 2 to Level 3 brings “improved morale advances along this “framework show a and a coherent culture. 16). constantly evaluates learning needs to nization possesses “a quantitative under. The orga. Issue 2 Distance Learning 19 . Seufert flexible. resources. zation focuses on building a culture of Criteria for improved outcomes (Mar- learning (THINQ. At the mote self-guided learning within a team or Competent and Capable Level. Introducing gies (CIT) can make course delivery more LM3. nization’s goals” (Stage V-Optimized cation identity and is conducting orderly Workforce. 2004. achieved through the use of CIT. 2001) an established distance edu. tai- competency-based learning and skill lored to the workforce. 2003. and knowl. web-enabled learning. Curtis (2001). 2001) shall & Mitchell.” start to tie into other enterprise applica- (SECAT. p. 2004. 21). para. 1995. Extending edge transfer is a product of collaboration Learning Maturity Through Relationships. The organization defines development costs and may require the elearning to include knowledge manage- ‘re-engineering’ of course delivery pro. 2004) and a set of standard pedagogical methods. assessments are used. improved ability to predict performance. how. The organization exploits para. Core business functions are efficient: “There appears to be an implicit web-enabled (Rosenberg. larly and used to ensure maximal use of tance training” (p. ment. Learning packages mode to “operating according to plan. 2004). Competency mod. 2004) and net worth.

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