Maturity assessments can be used to evaluate how a company is performing, both in terms of its own efficiency and in comparison to competitors. Maturity assessments take advantage of two principles: first, every company differs in its ability to execute a given task, along the range from nonexistent to advanced skills. Second, that any business leader is able to determine where on that spectrum his or her organization currently lies.

By devising maturity assessments and using them to accurately evaluate a company's performance in different areas, companies are able to determine where various operations stand and how they can improve. Many companies divide their maturity assessments into four specific categories: people, processes, information and technology. This enables them to broadly evaluate the core components of a successful company and identify where they can improve. While maturity assessments do run the risk of being overly simplistic, they are also incredibly straightforward and allow companies to take action much sooner.

Robert Kugel, senior vice president of research at Ventana, notes that there is a difference between information and technology, despite the two seeming very similar. Whereas technology can be used to collect and sort data, it can also be utilized for other purposes. Meanwhile, information can have a variety of issues, ranging from accuracy to relevancy and timeliness. Bad technology practices can still produce good information, and vice versa.

All of these elements do tend to be related, however. For example, on a sales team, improvement initiatives often revolve around the people dimension (providing training, developing product knowledge, etc.). However, there could be other issues holding a sales team back – various processes may hinder the speed at which agents respond to leads, lack of technology could impact their ability to complete tasks in a timely fashion or inaccurate data prevents them from making the best decisions.

"Too often, these efforts do not pay attention to data-related issues (could account executives better prioritize their sales efforts with more or more up-to-date information?), or to whether the right software is being used to manage the process or provide the ability to tailor incentive compensation on the fly to adapt to changing market conditions," Kugel writes for the Smart Data Collective.

Maturity assessments are pivotal in helping sales teams develop. They can determine whether companies need to integrate sales performance management (SPM) software, provide better sales coaching or take any other step to help improve the profitability of their business units.