Featured, Operations, Org Design

4 Steps to Elevate Functional Effectiveness & Operational Maturity

Expert author: Tim Brewer

Functional or operational maturity is an important part of a business running smoothly, efficiently and successfully. Evaluating processes for weak spots or areas of cross-functional friction can surface opportunities to improve work experience (and performance) for team members and the organization at large. 

When assessing functional maturity, focus on processes that your team owns or participates in heavily as they will have the most impact. This is a great activity to do as a group with your team members and hear different perspectives on what is, and isn’t working. 

It’s also valuable to get external feedback from other groups on their assessment of your team’s operational maturity levels. 

Here’s what you should be able to answer after your assessment: 

  1. What is the current level of operational maturity?

  2. Which processes should be evaluated?

  3. What would be the cost/benefit of investing in elevating low level areas?

  4. What are the priorities?

1. Your Business Functional Maturity Level

What is the current level of your operational maturity by function?

We’ve listed the key characteristics in levels below to help you identify where each function in your organisation sits. When assessing your functional maturity level, break your organisation into functions (eg: Marketing, Engineering, Sales) and talk through the specific processes each function has with your team. Remember to try and be objective.

Level 1

  • Minimally defined processes & documentation
  • Inconsistently executed
  • High friction
  • Requires extra effort to execute

Level 2

  • Some processes defined
  • Processes are performed, but with defects
  • Resources are not planned for 
  • Handovers between departments are not smooth

Level 3

  • Most processes are defined
  • Planning and performance tracking exists
  • Training and onboarding exists
  • Process improvement & project management exists

Level 4

  • Perform appropriate change management mechanics
  • Preventing defects
  • Managing performance objectively
  • Process improvement is ingrained in each team

Level 5

  • Harmony between people, processes and technology 
  • Processes are cross-functional 
  • Highly data and information-driven business
  • Continuously improving

2. Identify Processes to Evaluate

Which processes across your organization should be evaluated? Identify the processes that members of your team spend a ‘High’ amount of time on (6 hrs/week or more) or that involve multiple team members

The first step is for each leader to compile a comprehensive list of their team’s responsibilities, output, and average time spent on each activity. Get some internal validation with the team and invite them to add to the list. 


This can be a heavy lift for teams to complete, but there are organizational SaaS tools that exist to help make this exercise easy and fast, Functionly being one of them. 

3. Cost/Benefit Analysis

What are the cost/benefits of investing in elevating processes? Take a look at each function’s identified processes to evaluate, and answer the following: 

  • For the stage your organization and team is at, what is the realistic level each of those processes should be at today? 
  • Where should they sit in the medium term?
  • How much effort/resources/time would it take to get them where they should be? 
  • Where might external resources be needed?

4. Clarifying Priorities

What are the priorities that need to be addressed first? Use your cost/benefit analysis to determine: 

  • Which processes will yield the greatest returns by undergoing a process improvement exercise? 
  • Are there upcoming growth plans/strategic initiatives impacted by these processes that should be factored in?

Once the priorities are in place, you and your team will be able to create an action plan that enables your organization to start elevating each function’s effectiveness, and your overall operational maturity. 

If you’re a Functionly user, we’ve created a handy digital guide to get you on your way. Print it out or send it to each team leader and simply follow the outlined steps. 

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