Maybe It's Time to Assess Your Maturity...

We ran some spatial regressions and the data don't lie....a mature GIS program correlates strongly with keeping geospatialists young at heart. Maybe it's time for your twenty-point check-up? 

Over the past decade, many of our consulting engagements have featured individual needs assessments of various sorts....

  • GAP analyses
  • end user requirements workshops
  • GIS infrastructure and technology reviews
  • service model assessments
  • data stewardship and workflow improvement plans...

At a certain point, we began to see that while these endeavors were beneficial within the context of particular task orders, our clients would often gain value from them that would extend well beyond the scope of a single project. As we undertook methodical reviews of portions of our clients' GIS programs, we consistently witnessed clients beginning to think about and understand their operations at a higher level. Roadmaps, phased implementation strategies and new levels of focus and energy would emerge. The assessment work was galvanizing and brought unexpected clarity.  

This began to beg the question: should we consider offering a GIS program assessment as a standalone service?  Rather than performing it in pieces as a subtask on projects with a different end goal, maybe a straight-up and comprehensive program assessment would further enhance the value we were providing to our clients?

Thankfully, we don't work in a vacuum. While we were mulling this concept and sketching out what our "Rapid Assessment" (then working title) would look like, URISA conceptualized and proceeded to thoughtfully develop a similar "GIS Capability Assessment".  As synchronicity would have it, we were approached by a client who sought assistance cultivating executive sponsorship for their GIS program. Working through scoping details, the Rapid Assessment / Capability Assessment seemed a a very good fit for their needs. Thus, in partnership with the good folks of Hennepin County's GIS Office, we ended up performing one of the first official, post-prototype GIS Program Rapid Assessments.

At the end of the project, we took a look back out our mutual work and findings, discussed the lessons-learned and takeaways, and unanimously agreed that it was a very high value result for a relatively modest investment of time and money. The County felt they came away with some real clarity about their program's strengths and about the areas where attention and investment would be most effective to garner the support and improvements they were looking for. They also felt that the results were, in and of themselves, a good tool for justifying their focus, priorities and requests. 

Since that effort, we have continued to use and refine our GIS Program Rapid Assessment methodology. Notably, URISA has incorporated their Capability Assessment into the core offerings of the GIS Management Institute. Whether you choose to perform a self-assessment or to seek the assistance of an experienced consultant, we unequivocally recommend that you consider making this a periodic activity for your program. It will give you excellent, clear and actionable information across an extensive series of metrics that cover the full range of your program, technology, service delivery, staff resources, data practices and more. It will also help you measure and demonstrate progress and feel good about your accomplishments. It might make you whistle. 

If you'd like some straight-up, candid feedback about just how mature you are....feel free to drop us a line