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Dubai Customs and Innovation Management Maturity Model Essay (Critical Writing)

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Short Overview of the Dubai Customs

Dubai Customs can be traced back to the late 1850s when the practice of collecting customs duties began immediately the goods were unloaded. In 1938, a building was constructed for the customs office. The Customs Department was officially established. The department was tasked with making its legislation and recruiting its employees. In the 1950s, new projects were commenced for the development of Dubai, the expansion of its trade, and the strengthening of the organisation’s customs.

Currently, the Dubai Customs is not only tasked with the collection of duties. Its mandate has extended to various services, including in economic and societal areas. Dubai Customs plays a social, financial, statistical, and economic role. Its financial role is displayed through the collection of revenue. Its social function involves regulating the import and export of goods in and out of Dubai. While the statistical function involves generating reports, analysis, and statistics on the trade of Dubai, the economic function involves controlling the stream of trade into the business sector (Dubai Customs 2014).

The company purposes of becoming a leader in customs administration by offering innovative and proactive services to its clientele. Knowing its impact in the trade supply chain, the Dubai Customs has been a supporter of fair trade. For this reason, it identifies and deals with practices that are against its legislation. It also ensures adherence to agreements and international conventions within the trade community. It takes the forefront in creating trade relationships for Dubai and supporting development initiatives that are established by the government of Dubai.

Currently, it employs about three thousand workers who are distributed across various departments to facilitate the proper functioning and operation of the organisation. The governance of the organisation comprises structures, methodologies, laws, practices, policies, and procedures that control the manner in which it is managed. The structures aid the organisation to attain its organisational goals while at the same time serving the interests of its stakeholders (Dubai Customs 2014).

To maintain the smooth flow of governance, there is corporate governance manual. The manual outlines the pillars of the organisation’s governance. The manual is constantly revised and updated to keep it most applicable to the institution’s needs. The organisation’s adherence to high standards of corporate governance coupled up with proper management can be credited for its persistent success over the years. The vision of Dubai Customs is to be the lead Customs Administration globally and to support legitimate trade. Its mission is to protect society while boosting economic development by championing compliance with regulations and policies. Its goals include to sustain revenue growth, enhance trade, fight illegitimate trade, and to secure the supply chain. It seeks to achieve the goals through its values of integrity, leadership, team spirit, innovation, loyalty, and professionalism (Peng et al. 2014).

Description of IMMM

IMMM borrows from the framework of the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), which was made by Carnegie Mellon University. The model is made for the product organisation. It comprises three essential factors that influence workable innovation programmes. The factors include tools, processes, and people. The model outlines the full lifecycle of a product from the idea to introduce the product to the end of its life (Nauyalis 2013). The industry mostly focuses on the idea to launch. However, the process of innovation does not end at this point. It is also crucial to managing the product even when it is out in the market. It is also important to have the mechanisms, money, and effort necessary to terminate the product (Zacharias 2011).

Ferreira and Tasso (2015) note that IMMM enables organisations to rank themselves based on the strength of their innovation programme in the separate categories of processes, people, and tools. The ranking is done across all five levels of maturity. In level five, innovation is highly optimised across all factors, tools, people, and processes. Therefore, the model gives organisations a way to compare themselves with other companies in terms of their overall performance and in the three separate categories based on the best practices and characteristics outlined for each level.

According to Tidd and Bessant (2014), it is important for an institution to rank itself using this model of innovation management maturity. One of the reasons is that innovation is considered a purely creative process. Therefore, there is no clear-cut manner to manage it. Although this notion is true for the better part, the lack of a means to manage innovation in a company is likely to leave it rudderless, depending on an individual’s ideas or random approaches to driving the innovation sector of an organisation without the validation of the value of the ideas that steer the organisation’s product strategy.

The model provides a structure to define innovation management levels across the product’s domain. It combines this knowledge with strategy and execution. The ability to create a definition in the levels of innovation management establishes a standard of performance in the organisation, which is likely to reconcile innovation opinions across various departments, thus resulting in a benchmark against which performance can be monitored and evaluated. Overall, the tool is an effective manner to operationalise innovation and guarantee that it is entrenched in every factor of product development (Nauyalis 2013).

The use of the model is a revelation for organisations. It is likely to lead to the rise in the level of an organisation’s innovation maturity. Most of the global organisations are ranked between level two and three. However, it is the desire of most organisations to reach level four or five. Most organisations suffer disparity across their departments over the true state of innovation management maturity. The model provides a practical manner of gaining consensus across the board on the standing of both the desired level and the current level of innovation management maturity, as well as its standards in the organisation. It is effective in helping organisations to formulate goals concerning innovation and/or evaluate the progress in a synchronised manner (Zacharias 2011). While one organisation may aim to reach level 5, another organisation may be aiming to get to level 3.

The IMMM is divided into three categories, namely people, processes, and tools. People refer to the organisation’s framework that supports innovation. They are exclusively tasked with managing the innovation sector (Hajdini 2014). A productive, well-staffed, and properly established Centre for Product Excellence is a feature of level-five innovation management maturity. In such organisations, the innovation sector receives support from the organisation’s executive leadership and the heads of departments who are fully aware of the role of innovation in the growth and sustainability of the business.

Efficient and collaborative decision-making processes are also a mark of a level 5 innovation management maturity organisation. All members of each department are well aware of their part in meeting the goals and objectives of innovation set out by the organisation. It is made more efficient by the use of well-trained and qualified project managers to lead innovation processes and the formation of teams to work on different projects (Enkel, Bell, & Hogenkamp 2011). This plan is instrumental in meeting targets in terms of deadlines and quality.

According to Hajdini (2014), as a factor of the innovation model, processes refer to the level to which an organisation has automated the commercialisation process. Level 5 maturity level organisations have dynamic processes that are highly adaptable and flexible to the changes that occur both in the market and/or because of the evolution of the company. The companies have automatic and uniform processes that are in a systematic state of constant improvement. Portfolio metrics have been revolutionised to focus majorly on product financials to accommodate resource capacity, environmental, and competitive impact scores. Therefore, project performance is influenced early, especially during the process of portfolio reviews. Moreover, the needs of the clientele are continuously captured to encourage innovation while maintaining brand loyalty. A continuous learning process is established and applied in the commercialisation process.

The final factor of the model involves the tools. Tools refer to having an established project portfolio management (PPM) system to automate processes that affect all people who are involved in the commercialisation process (Martins & Terblanche 2003). The PPM application is combined with other applications that are instrumental in the running of an efficient innovation process. Ideas are collected through these systems from both within the company and externally. The product roadmap is linked to project execution and corporate strategy through the PPM application. ‘What-if’ investigation is carried out against resource capacity to reach the launch stage. The complete product collection of in-market products is also managed through the same application to influence platform constituents across numerous products. As with ‘People’ and ‘Processes’, the majority of the institutions rank themselves at level 3 or lower in the productive use of ‘Tools’ in their PPM.

The levels of maturity in the innovation model have been ranked from level 1 to level 5. Level 1 and 2 organisations tend to have many factors in common. Both levels lack support structures, technology, and processes that can reduce problems concerning data, planning, and communication. They also lack clearly defined resource roles that guarantee internal communication and systematic execution within departments. However, an organisation may intentionally remain at level 1 or 2 because the innovation management of a particular product is not its internal priority. This case is mostly seen in situations where the focus of the company is less on innovation competition and more on the revenue that the product generates to finance the innovation of a different product. Therefore, the level of a company’s innovation maturity may have nothing to do with its resources (Tidd & Bessant 2014).

Level three is the average level of innovation maturity. At this point, organisations have utilised technology to find, plan, and leverage information to deploy proper execution mechanisms. These organisations have a well-informed process, resource, and projects managers. They are likely to realise the commercial advantages of progressing in their innovation management maturity. Level 4 and 5 organisations are those that have accepted the process of advancement and recognised that maturity must be deliberate. They have fully invested in their processes, people, and tools. They have a planned strategy of growth to encourage quicker yet more sustainable and repeatable innovation processes. They have formed teams to work on different projects (Sicotte, Drouin & Delerue 2014). Besides, they have an adaptable dynamic process.

Assessment of Dubai Customs in terms of its Implementation of Innovation Practices

Dubai Customs recognises the importance of research and innovation to an organisation that strives to offer quality service to its customers as a way of creating a sustainable future. Over the years, the public organisation has continued to concentrate on distinction and innovation by introducing various smart services that meet global standards to assure customer satisfaction. In the 2014 Sustainable Report, the leaders of the organisation outlined the progress the institution had made towards achieving its goals. It also revealed the sustainability strategies and innovation practices that had been introduced to promote its operation (Nauyalis 2013). Despite the presence of various innovation practices, other areas still require improvement. Using the IMMM, the subsequent sections will assess the progress of Dubai Customs with respect to the application of innovation practices.

Areas where Dubai Customs is doing well

Foremost, the structure and performance of Dubai Customs’ governance are impressive. It has a rich human resource team. According to IMMM, the people in an organisation have a crucial input towards building the maturity level of a company. Creating an organisational structure that enables the executive leaders and staff members to have a collaborative decision-making process encourages innovation in a firm (Nauyalis 2013). Moreover, the structure addresses the need of the organisation in terms of its well-staffed human resources. It also encourages administrators to promote a culture where all employees understand their responsibility in advancing the innovation objectives of the business (Dubai Customs 2014).

Dubai Customs’ human resource is controlled by a collection of policies, decrees, and norms that define and regulate the management of various activities in the organisation such that the planned objectives are accomplished. The role of stakeholders has also been put into consideration. To ensure that stakeholders are conversant with the roles, the organisation has established a manual that is reviewed frequently. The presence of such a manual reveals that Dubai Customs is at level 3 of the IMMM. The organisation recognises that effective corporate governance has a vital impact on the prosperity and development of an institution. Moreover, management that champions for innovation is an indication of an institution that is in the third stage of the IMMM (Bezdrob & Šunje 2015). Moreover, the government backs the efforts by the public organisation to adopt paperless dealings.

Dubai Customs also embraces the advanced level of technology, which has encouraged the delivery of quality services to the citizens. The organisation has passed the technology chasm from the previous maturity level. The company uses it to organise and offer its services to the public. The organisation has a fully smart government department. Clients can now access services through mobile phones, irrespective of their location. This smart service comprises high-tech integrated services that enable customers to fill and send their applications using their mobile devices where they also receive instant responses concerning the progress of their responses (Sicotte, Drouin, & Delerue 2014). The automation of the commercialisation process is a positive indication on the impressive progress the institution has made in championing for innovation in line with the IMMM. The full smart government department is a tool for service delivery, which according to the model, is crucial when measuring the innovation maturity level.

Dubai Customs is also adopting an open-door policy, which is a remarkable step towards a higher level of innovation maturity. It recognises the crucial role that stakeholders such as customers, the government, and employees play in the success of a public institution. Through the open-door policy, the organisation has created a sociable connection with the public. It also receives complaints and suggestions, which it considers in its policymaking process. This approach is consistent with the third stage of the IMMM where businesses establish processes that recognise the clients’ voices. It has created formalised systems to listen to customers’ suggestions and complaints. Dubai Customs has become the first government institution in the Middle East to establish a customers’ complaints management programme.

The IMMM emphasises that innovation is primarily based on the individuals before considering tactics and technologies implemented by the company (Johannessen, Olsen, & Lumpkin 2001). Hence, the level of innovation maturity in an organisation is highly influenced by how the company handles opinions from its workers. Dubai Customs has 2,835 employees who work on various departments in the organisation. Taking opinions from such a bug population of workforce is strenuous. Most companies would be reluctant to create resources and time to listen to the views of every worker. Despite the obvious challenges, Dubai Customs has not only created a platform where customers can air their voices but also its employees.

Through the Suggestion, Complaint, and Reward initiative, the organisation has established a forum where the executive leadership can collect constructive opinions from its human resources to improve productivity, manage finances, and/or create a more conducive working environment. The top management works closely with the departmental heads to coordinate and gather views. It also has an electronic programme known as E-Suggest to make the submission-gathering process efficient and reliable. The programme has promoted both loyalty and motivation among employees who feel that they are also making significant contributions towards the sustainable development of the organisation.

Areas where Dubai Customs needs to improve

Dubai Customs needs to improve its human resource policies. Its 2014 Sustainable Report shows a high rate employee turnover as compared to the previous years. Lack of proper policies to retain workers may injure the innovation efforts of the company. Frequent hiring of employees slows the process of employee learning and understanding of their roles in the commercialisation process. Process managers and gatekeepers have to keep training new workers about their roles and in the end remain stagnant in a stage of the innovation maturity.

Although Dubai Customs has set aside programmes for training recruits, it is time consuming and expensive. Moreover, it exposes itself to the risk of losing the loyal and innovative workforce. The absence of diversity in the human resource team also limits the level of innovation. The organisation claims to observe the Human Resource Management Law No. (27) 2006. This clause calls for an effective diversity policy and process. However, the current criterion for recruiting employees is intolerable. The religious, age, and gender population is highly uneven, hence influencing innovation strategies negatively.

Dubai Customs has also invested in the external innovation consultants. Although the executive leaders have shown commitment in taking the views of employees and customers to improve various sectors of the public organisation, there is no formalised process for taking opinions from external innovation experts. The views of external consultants can be of great contribution to the company since they (external consultants) are independent and unbiased on certain steps on how to promote innovation in the company, unlike staff members whose opinions may be influenced by the desire to please the top management. Under the IMMM, a firm that crosses the third stage of innovation maturity seeks not only opinions from stakeholders but also external innovation recommendations (Jarvenpaa & Välikangas 2014).

The organisation also needs to improve the automation of the commercialisation process. Although most the automation processes have begun at Dubai Customs, they are not yet fully integrated into the operations of the institution. Complete automation and creation of paperless transactions will require keeping in touch with the technological advancement. Where possible, the government should ensure not only application but also that every service offered by Dubai Customs is accessible via mobile devices (Marchio, Benedetti, & Russo, 2015).


Dubai Customs is an organisation whose one of its most fundamental values is innovation. For it to move from level three to a level-five innovation maturity organisation, it needs to improve on various factors concerning its tools, people, and processes. First, it should apply objectivity to the process of innovation. One of the ways of doing so is by uncovering the disconnections that exist in relation to the perceptions that different departments have towards level of maturity of the organisation’s innovation management (Sicotte, Drouin & Delerue 2014). It can use the model to measure the actual level where the organisation falls. This move may be instrumental in formulating a standardised benchmark to work towards and to create a mechanism for measuring the validity of an idea in boosting the innovative quality of a product or services. Gaining agreement across the organisation of the maturity level is paramount because each employee will have a uniform standard to work towards (Martins & Terblanche 2003).

Secondly, Dubai Customs should establish cultures that are necessary to the development of the organisation’s innovation maturity. Companies that are highly mature have innovation entrenched into their cultures, from departments, teams, and even individuals, regardless of the function that they carry out. This situation is also enhanced by encouraging creativity and flexibility in the processes. Although the move exposes the organisation to risks, it is also more productive in the end. Failures that come with such cultures create a platform for learning. The culture follows the top-down approach since it is inapplicable to an individual employee (Klingebiel & Rammer 2014).

The organisation should also set clear goals on where it aims to be within a specific period. It should formulate strategies that are most likely to yield the results that the company seeks to invest in its people, tools, and processes for optimisation of results. This step should then be followed by tying the strategies to investment and execution processes (Martins & Terblanche 2003). Each individual in the organisation should understand the role that he or she is meant to play because the process of innovation requires a company to be successful in all areas. If this strategy is properly executed, then the company is more likely to reach its goals in terms of innovation maturity.


Initiating the best practices for ensuring consistent development in an organisation has been a challenge for most executive leaders. While most companies have introduced and promoted innovative culture, they are unable to measure and determine their innovation management maturity level. Using the Innovation Management Maturity Model (IMMM), this paper has assessed the effectiveness of Dubai Customs’ innovation programmes. If Dubai Customs creates the appropriate norms and/or charts a proper roadmap, it will reach the higher levels of the IMMM.


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