In this section, the focus is on the activities carried out to develop the DREAMY (i.e. short name of Digital REadiness Assessment MaturitY model) and the related questionnaire. The model development of  was used as the framework for building the model. The phases “Design and Populate” of the overall framework are only analysed in the remainder of this paper.
3.1 Designing the Maturity Model
To define the model architecture, it was fundamental to identify the manufacturing relevant processes, within which these activities are performed, and that are strategic for the digital transformation. When structuring the manufacturing relevant processes, the first considerations done were about how they highly depend on the company’s production strategy (i.e. Engineer-To-Order – ETO-, Make-To-Stock – MTS-, etc.). ETO companies, for example, can build their competitive advantage thanks to a perfect management of quotation and customer requirement comprehension phases, while MTS companies have to be very well organized in forecasting demand and in stock management processes. As the objective is not to focus on a single manufacturing company’s strategy, a modular and scalable architecture was built, enabling to adapt to the needs, and thus assessment, of companies using different production strategies.
In order to make the architecture as general as possible, manufacturing company’s processes were grouped in areas, which are strategic for the digital transformation. At the end, five main areas were identified: (1) Design and Engineering; (2) Production Management; (3) Quality Management; (4) Maintenance Management; (5) Logistics Management. Each process area can be considered as a self-contained module and therefore it is possible to add or remove one or more areas in case of they are not meaningful in certain industrial situations with no impact on the macro-structure foundation. Horizontally to these process areas, it interposes the Digital Backbone, within which all the information exchange processes inter-areas are covered.
Once the architecture is given, maturity levels are still undefined; they are however relevant issues in maturity assessment. Indeed, for the objective of this work, the digital readiness of a manufacturing company is defined through a scale of maturity levels. These levels describe a proper set of company capabilities, to provide a snapshot of their current (digital) abilities. The levels have been based on the inspiring principles of the CMMI framework [20, 21]. The main reason of this choice is that the CMMI provides a defined structure of maturity levels, specifying what are the capabilities a company has at each level. In this way, as the five-scale CMMI maturity levels provided a generic model to start from, they have been re-adapted in order to gather the definitions, and so the semantic, of the digital readiness maturity levels (see Table 1).
Along the maturity levels, it is worth remarking the relevance of integration, either vertical or horizontal one, as well as intra- or inter-companies, and of interoperability: they are two primary levers to enable digital-orientation. Integration is a commonly known concept: it is the first systemic paradigm used to organise humans and machines at different levels , field, management and corporate level, to produce an integrated enterprise system. It has been recognized since long in its importance for the manufacturing chain within the networked enterprise, in order “to control and to manage the customised manufacturing of both goods and services as desired by the Internet society” . Interoperability (Enterprise interoperability) is the “ability of enterprises and entities within those enterprises to communicate and interact effectively” . This is an enabler of business collaboration (intra- or inter-companies), and it is not just a technology problem. Indeed, interoperability requires solutions to overcome barriers of different nature, i.e. conceptual, technological and organizational ones . Nowadays, interoperability is clearly a relevant requirement that comes out along the journey towards the digital transformation.
From what already defined in the maturity levels, it is clear that, when evaluating the digital capabilities of a company, not only the technologies used to support the processes have to be considered. Indeed, without structured processes and defined organization structures, a company will not be able to exploit the opportunities these technologies offer. From these considerations, from the evidences presented in the literature and considering the objective of the maturity model itself, it was decided to evaluate the digital readiness of manufacturing companies through four analysis dimensions: Process, Monitoring and Control, Technology and Organization. The decision of considering these analysis dimensions was made mainly taking into account the units of analysis of the DREAMY, which are manufacturing relevant processes. To this aim, it was decided to assess: (1) the way in which these processes are carried out (Process dimension); (2) the way in which these processes are monitored and controlled through the evaluation of feedbacks received from their execution (Monitoring and Control dimension); (3) the technologies that support these processes (Technology dimension); (4) the organizational structures behind these processes (Organization dimension).
The Maturity Model and its Use for the Status Quo Analysis
The maturity model is synthesized in Fig. 2. The model is usable, as a first function, for descriptive purposes: the maturity indexes are relevant elements for describing the as-is situation of a manufacturing company according to the different dimensions and areas considered.
3.2 Populating the Maturity Model
The findings from design – i.e. architecture, maturity levels and analysis dimensions – were validated with academia and company experts. The output of this phase was the first realise of the Digital Readiness Questionnaire. Within the questionnaire, for each question a standard normative of answers was developed. These standard answers were structured according to an increasing level of maturity, following the five-scale digital readiness maturity levels previously described. To define the answers, considerations from company experts were blended with the ones of academia experts and literature findings. This allowed exploiting the maturity model as theoretical framework in order to inform the questionnaire construction. In particular, such a construction was done by synthesizing the specific knowledge from experts and literature in different fields (i.e. design and engineering, production management, etc. according to the architecture of Fig. 1), collected and organized according to the different maturity levels and analysis dimensions. An example of the question related to Quality Management area is provided below:
Does the organisation perform regular reviews regarding problems related to product tests and quality?
No, no review is performed ML1
Yes, reviews are performed but not by experts in the field ML2
Yes, reviews are performed by experts in the field, but still not systematically ML3
Yes, reviews are performed by experts in the field, from involved company departments /functions ML4
Yes, reviews are performed by experts in the field, from involved company departments /functions, also including suppliers and OEMs where necessary ML5
Thanks to the information gathered through the execution of the questionnaire, it is possible to assess the company’s digital readiness with the series of maturity indexes already presented in Fig. 2.