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URISA's GIS Management Institute

URISA's GIS Management Institute® (GMI) helps organizations identify and implement enterprise GIS management practice improvements.  

User Testimonials:

Marcus Harner, IT GIS Analyst, Shasta County, CA: “It took two meetings for staff to complete and was extremely helpful to assess where we are with our GIS program. When we explained and demonstrated the result to the Shasta County advisory committee as a self-evaluation tool, it was very well received!”

Eric Rizzo, GIS Administrator, City of Waltham, MA: “After completing the GISCMM, we identified some projects which are in need of improvement, both quick wins for the short term and some larger projects. I think the tool was extremely useful in actually quantifying areas where I suspected we needed improvement (i.e., stakeholder engagement, staff management, staff and user training, and formal documentation of some of our processes). There are some initiatives I have been working on which will hopefully improve the scores in those areas. I think for me the best way to utilize the CMM is both a planning and goal evaluation tool to help us prioritize projects and initiatives in our department. There may be some categories (especially those related to funding) where I have little control over improving them, but there are certainly areas where I believe we can realize measurable improvement. We are continuing to use the GISCMM. I have one GIS analyst that works with us on a part-time basis who mainly does data editing and field collection and I have asked him to complete the GISCMM from his perspective related to those areas. The GISCMM can be time intensive to complete but it really helped us identify areas we need to improve in and has
also helped me identify areas that we can improve on using internal resources and also identify areas where we may need to seek outside assistance from a consultant. We are currently in the process of evaluating our application development procedures and documenting them (something we have not done prior to the GISCMM). I think the greatest benefit for us is that we now have a framework we can use to evaluate our effectiveness as a program which is something we struggled with in the past.”

Bryan Townsend, GIS Manager, York County, SC: “The conversations that took place as we completed and reviewed results for the GISCMM as a team were very fruitful. Our first use took place while onboarding a new staff member. We found it helpful to use the GISCMM as a structured checklist to make sure our entire team understood GIS program operations (such as backup and restore procedures, funding cycles). We created goals for the year around areas the GISCMM indicated our program needed improvement. These ranged from completing a project to simply taking a training course or having a conversation or sharing how something works.”

Joseph Sloop, Geographic Information Officer (GIO), Forsyth  County, NC: “The GMI assessment tool provides Forsyth County with a means to assess our systems across a wide range of characteristics which are key to organizational success. We can easily visualize areas where we are falling short and track progress over time.”

GMI offers the following core products and services to help managers and organizations assess and advance their GIS competency and maturity levels. 

GMI Core Products/Services

Target Audience


Cost & Benefits

Geospatial Management Competency Model (GMCM

GIS Managers

The Geospatial Management Competency Model (GMCM) identifies 74 competencies within 18 competency areas for GIS Management.

It is a tier of the Geospatial Technical Competency Model, the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration’s (DOLETA’s) Competency Modeling Initiative.

Available for free self-assessment

GIS Capability Maturity Model  (GISCMM )


Enterprise level GIS capability maturity model.

Spreadsheet available for free self-assessment.

GIS Capability Maturity Assessment Service 


A comprehensive assessment of GIS management capability maturity. The assessment tool indicates your organization’s GIS management maturity on a wide range of geospatial capabilities*. 

  • Annual self-administered assessment of key metrics associated with organizational GIS management maturity levels
  • Results report and graphic charting
  • Visualize your organization’s GIS management strengths and weaknesses
  • Comparison across other organizations


Download Introductory Brochure

Available as part of URISA government agency membership or by subscription.






















GISCMM Glossary of Terms:  Refer to this document for definitions of the terms used, to aid in completing the assessment.

Get Started with the GIS Capability Maturity Assessment Service

GIS is an essential service and represents a significant investment of resources, including time, money, expertise, and training. The level of “capability maturity” of a GIS program reflects the results of those investments, and varies within an organization over time. Higher levels of capability maturity enable better operations and decision-making. 

The URISA GMI GIS Capability Maturity Model assessment service was created to provide agencies with a means to evaluate and visualize the operational maturity of their GIS programs. Results of the self-assessment can be used to evaluate and prioritize next steps in improving GIS operations and effectiveness. Clear presentation of a GIS program’s maturity levels and gaps can lead to support and resources for further growth and new uses of GIS. The CMM assessment subscription service enables GIS managers to monitor progress annually and to compare their results to their peer group.

Benefits of Using the CMM

Completing the GMI CMM Assessment can provide valuable performance measures and metrics for your GIS. Among the benefits, the CMM can:

  • Help program managers develop and communicate program accomplishments to upper management and create program “champions” within your agency.
  • Determine where improvements and investments are needed.
  • Provide input to program planning.
  • Communicate needs for GIS investments (and support future budget requests).
  • Realign operations and services as needed.
  • Improve communication and collaboration within your GIS team and other departments.

“The GMI assessment tool provides Forsyth County with a means to assess our systems across a wide range of characteristics which are key to organizational success. We can easily visualize areas where we are falling short and track progress over time .”  – Joseph Sloop, GISP, Geographic Information Officer (GIO), Forsyth County, North Carolina

Step 1: Sign up

For the best value, purchase a URISA Agency Membership which includes a CMM subscription. A CMM subscription-only service is also available. The primary contact for your organization (typically the GIS Director or Manager) will receive log-in instructions to register and begin the assessment. 

Step 2: Complete the Assessment

Depending on the size and complexity of your organization, the GIS Manager can complete the online assessment or you may decide to take a team approach, where
staff/stakeholders complete the CMM (on paper) and average the score to submit online.

Complete all three components of the CMM:

  • GIS Organization Metric Survey: Information about your organization and your GIS.
  • Enabling Capability (EC) Assessment and Execution Ability (EA) Assessment: Operational characteristics of your GIS.
  • Geospatial Management Competency Model (GMCM): A self-assessment of the capabilities of the GIS Manager or management team.

The time it takes to complete the assessment depends on the size of an agency and staff’s level of knowledge. In future years, the time invested will allow the survey to be completed with less effort.

Step 3: Evaluate Results

Once completed, celebrate those areas for which you received high scores and review lower scores to identify areas of improvement. Visualize survey results using the spider diagrams (one each for EC, EA and GMCM). Compare results of your agency to both your previous years’ results and the results of an average of agencies with comparable characteristics.

Consider using the areas where there are lower scores to justify your resource needs. Completing the assessment just before the budget planning cycle begins allows the results to support justification needed for resources and set program goals for the next year.

GMI Initiatives

GMI is working on several more initiatives to help organizations with their GIS management operations.
These include:

  • Development of GIS Management Best Practices and Body of Knowledge
  • GIS Management-related professional education
  • Expansion of GIS Management information dissemination
  • Promotion of awareness and adoption of GIS management best practices by organizations and GIS professionals

Have Questions? For more information about URISA's GIS Management Institute, contact Wendy Nelson, URISA Executive Director at (847) 824-6300 .

Related Publications and Resources 

Available now through the GIS Management Institute & URISA

URISA Leadership Academy: A five-day course on GIS leadership and management, presented at least annually. The ULA is tailored to industry leaders and practitioners faced with unique challenges of GIS leadership and management and who want to make an impact leveraging the power of GIS.

The GIS Management Handbook:  A comprehensive guide and reference to the field of GIS management. It provides practical information on the development, implementation, and operation of GIS programs and projects and is valuable resource for seasoned and new GIS managers and aspiring managers. This book takes a practical approach providing clear descriptions of concepts, issues, and practices that may be used in operational settings, in public and private sector organizations to improve and maximize the efficiency of GIS programs and projects. 

Other Relevant Resources:

These articles/reports are occasional GIS Management Institute® discussion papers. These papers do not represent the opinion of URISA. The publication of these papers are offered to stimulate thought and open discussion about issues related to GIS management that are important to the GIS community

Other Published Articles of Interest:

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