The software industry has been using maturity models to define and measure software development capabilities for decades. These models have helped the industry create a shared vision for these capabilities. They also have driven individual software development organizations to set and pursue aggressive capabilities goals while allowing these groups to measure progress in reaching those objectives along the way.
As the utility industry embarks on the complex and ambitious transformation of the outdated power grid to the new smart grid, it has struggled to develop a shared vision for the smart grid end-state and the path to its development and deployment. Now, the smart grid maturity model (SGMM) is helping the industry overcome these challenges by presenting a consensus vision of the smart grid, the benefits it can bring and the various levels of smart grid development and deployment maturity. SGMM is helping numerous utilities worldwide develop targets for their smart grid strategy, and build roadmaps of the activities, investments and best practices that will lead them to their future smart grid state.
IBM worked closely with members of the Intelligent Utility Network Coalition (IUNC) to develop, discuss and revise several drafts of the SGMM. This team was assisted by APQC, a member-based nonprofit organization that provides benchmarking and best-practice research for approximately 500 organizations worldwide. The goal in the development process was to ensure the SGMM reflects a consensus industry vision for the smart grid, and brings together a wide range of industry experts to define the technical, organizational and process details supporting that vision.
APQC has a long history of benchmarking, performance measurement and maturity definition, and was therefore able to provide critical experience to drive development of a clear, measureable maturity model. IBM has worked on smart grid initiatives with numerous utilities around the world, and provided guidance and some initial structure to help start the development process. But the most important contributors to the SGMM were utilities themselves, as they brought a wealth of deep technical and strategic knowledge to build a shared vision of the smart grid and the various stages of maturity that could be achieved.
Because of this consensus development process, the SGMM reflects a broad industry vision for the smart grid, and it now gives utilities a tool for both strategic and tactical use to guide, measure and assess a utility’s smart grid transformation:
Strategic uses of the SGMM:
- Establish a shared vision for the smart grid journey;
- Communicate the smart grid vision, both internally and externally;
- Use as a strategic framework for evaluating smart grid business and investment objectives;
- Plan for technological, regulatory, and organizational readiness; and
- Benchmark and learn from others
Tactical uses of the SGMM:
- Guide development of a specific smart grid roadmap or blueprint;
- Assess and prioritize current smart grid opportunities and projects;
- Use as a decision-making framework for smart grid investments;
- Assess resource needs to move from one smart grid level to another; and
- Measure smart grid progress using key performance indicators (KPIs).
The SGMM structure is based on three fundamental concepts:
Domains: eight logical groupings of functional components of a smart grid transformation implementation;
Maturity Levels: five sets of defined characteristics and outcomes; and
Characteristics: descriptions of over 200 capabilities that are expected at each stage of the smart grid journey.
As Figure 1 shows, the domains span eight areas covering people, technology, and process, and comprise all of the fundamental components of smart grid capabilities.
Maturity levels range from an entry level of 1, up to a top level of 5, and can be summarized as follows:
Level 1 – Exploring and Initiating: contemplating smart grid transformation; may have a vision, but no strategy yet; exploring options; evaluating business cases and technologies; may have some smart grid elements already deployed.
Level 2 – Functional Investing: making decisions, at least at a functional level; business cases in place and investments being made; one or more functional deployments under way with value being realized; strategy in place.
Level 3 – Integrating Cross Functional: smart grid spreading; operational linkages established between two or more functional areas; management ensuring decisions span functional interests, resulting in cross-functional benefits.
Level 4 – Optimizing Enterprise-Wide: smart grid functionality and benefits realized; management and operational systems rely on and take full advantage of observability and integrated control, both across and between enterprise functions.
Level 5 – Innovating Next Wave of Improvements: new business, operational, environmental, and societal opportunities present themselves, and the capability exists to take advantage of them.
It is important to note that a utility may not choose to target maturity level 5 in every domain – in fact, it may not target level 5 for any domain. Instead, each utility using the SGMM must consider its own strategic direction and performance goals, and then decide on the levels of smart grid maturity that will support those goals to determine the target maturity in each domain. For example, a utility that is strategically focused on the retail side of the business may want to achieve relatively high maturity in the customer management and experience domain, but have a much lower target for maturity in the grid operations domain.
The key point is that the SGMM is not a report card with those utilities reaching the highest maturity levels "winning the game." Instead, each utility uses the SGMM to understand how the smart grid can help optimize its planning and investment to achieve its aspirations.
With over 200 characteristics describing the capabilities for each domain and maturity level, it is not possible to describe them here, but an example of a typical characteristic shown in Figure 2 provides a good sense of the level of detail in each characteristic of the SGMM.
Taken together, the domains, maturity levels, and characteristics form a detailed matrix that describes smart grid maturity across all critical areas.
Evaluating Smart Grid Maturity
A utility uses two surveys in conjunction with the SGMM structure described above to: assess its smart grid maturity; and track its progress and the resulting benefits during deployment. The first survey is the maturity assessment, which asks a series of about 40 questions that cover the current state of the utility’s smart grid strategy and spending, and the current penetration of smart grid capabilities into various areas of the business. The assessment yields a detailed report, providing the results for each domain, as well as higher-level reports that show the broader view of the utility’s current state and aspirations for the smart grid.
In this example, the utility’s current smart grid maturity is shown by the green circles, while its maturity aspirations are shown by the yellow circles. This highlevel view can be very useful as support for detailed plans on how to get from current state to aspirational state. It is also helpful for conveying maturity concepts and results to various stakeholders – both inside and outside the utility.
The second survey is the opportunity and results survey, which focuses on KPIs that track progress in smart grid deployment, as well as realization of the resulting benefits. For example, many questions in the survey cover grid operations, with the focus on cost, reliability and penetration of smart grid capabilities into the "daily life" of grid operations. The survey is expected to be completed annually, allowing each utility using the SGMM to track its deployment progress and benefits realization.
Using SGMM Results
The results from the SGMM can be applied in many ways to gauge a utility’s smart grid progress. From a practical management standpoint, the following important indicators can be derived directly from the SGMM process:
- How the utility compares to other survey participants overall;
- Where the utility has deficiencies in one domain that may adversely affect other domains;
- Effects of being potentially projectoriented rather than program-driven, resulting in a jagged, "peaks and valleys" maturity profile with uneven advancement;
- Indications that some domains are too far ahead of others, resulting in the risk of putting the "cart before the horse;" and
- Confirmation of progress in domains that have been given particular focus by the utility, and indications of domains that may require increased focus.
More broadly, completion of the SGMM surveys provide a utility with the information needed to establish a shared smart grid vision with both internal and external stakeholders, mesh that vision with the utility’s overall business strategy to set maturity targets, and then build a detailed roadmap for closing the gaps between the current and target maturity levels.
Transition of SGMM Stewardship
IBM has been pleased to work with APQC and members of the IUNC to support definition and early roll-out of the SGMM. But as an important and evolving industry tool, IBM believes that the SGMM should be supported and maintained by a broader group. Therefore, we are planning to transition to a stewardship model with three organizations each playing a critical role:
- Governance, Management, and Growth: the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute will govern the SGMM, working in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center. The institute and its 500 employees will leverage its 20 years of experience as stewards of the Capability Maturity Model for software development.
- Global Stakeholder Representation and Advocacy: the World Energy Council will provide representation for stakeholders around the globe. The council was established in 1923, represents 95 member countries and regularly hosts the World Energy Congress. Its mission is to promote the sustainable supply and use of energy for the greatest benefit of all people. This mission fits well with the development of the smart grid and the expanding use of the SGMM.
- Data Collection and Reporting: APQC will provide further support for the SGMM survey process. With over 30 years of quality and process improvement research, APQC will continue the work it has done to date to assist utilities in assessing their smart grid maturity and tracking their progress during deployment.
All utilities should consider using the SGMM as they develop their vision for the smart grid and begin to plan and execute the projects that will take them on the journey. The SGMM represents the best strategic and technical thinking of a broad cross-section of the utility industry. We believe that the SGMM will continue to represent a thoughtful and consensus view as the smart grid – and the technology that supports it – evolves over the next few years.