A Brief History of the NIMM

When I present on the NHS Infrastructure Maturity Model (“NIMM”) I find it useful to explain the background to the NIMM and the approach taken in developing it. This “History of the NIMM” helps set the context and allows people get a feel for where it is going by understanding where it came from (well thats what I hope will happen!).

When I first started working for the Infrastructure Directorate (which was part of NHS Connecting for Health), one of the tasks I was given was to find ways to help drive infrastructure standardization and promote the sharing and re-use of best practice (avoid re-inventing the wheel) across the NHS in England.

It soon became apparent that there was already a huge amount of IT best practice an technical guidance already out there that could be used to manage and deliver IT infrastructure services, the NHS itself produces guidance, there are numerous other examples such as ITIL, COBIT.. many ISO standards not to forget guidance that technology vendors develop (such as Microsoft TECHNET etc..)

So the problem as I viewed it was NOT a lack of “bottom-up” technical guidance, instead it was the need to ake a “top-down” approach in order to create a common infrastructure management language that business, IT and vendors could speak. There was also a need to create more executive level focus on the importance of infrastructure (which is mostly invisible) in delivering the IT enabled change needed to better serve the patient, clinician and tax-payer.

An intuitive maturity model that can be used as a “Management Tool” to help IT Leaders manage performance locally across the NHS seem the way to go.

It was also clear to me what the NIMM should NOT be, it should NOT be another technical tool or another DVDs worth of documents OR a complex process to “tolerated” now and then OR a “stealth auditing tool” for someone else’s benefit etc.

Rather then start from scratch, I look at a number of existing Maturity Models and decided to create a “hybrid” taking what I felt was the best from each and added a generous helping of NHS reality and NHS “business context”.

18 months on… what we have is:

  • an intuitive model and guidance which relies on self assessment to ensure that the knowledge gained from using the NIMM remain locally with those that actually have to see it through
  • a set of definitions of what IT infrastructure is in the NHS (covering both management and technology)
  • a 5 level scoring scale calibrated for the NHS
  • a set of KPIs for some capabilities which enable objective benchmarking NATIONALLY
  • a balanced scorecard methodology which can be used LOCALLY self assess any infrastructure capability using qualitative measures and manage performance (obviously, these capabilities can’t be benchmarked nationally since they rely on subjective measures)
  • a common language that can link IT leaders across the NHS as well as linking them to the business and IT vendors

Note: The NIMM is Trademark of the Department of Health and is Crown Copyright

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