What is Project Management Maturity?

Project management maturity refers (in this article) to an organisation’s evolving ability to proficiently execute projects, programmes, and portfolios by developing structured methodologies, streamlined processes, skilled teams, and a culture of excellence.

Project management maturity demonstrates the organisation’s capacity to align change activities with strategic goals, optimise resource allocation, mitigate risks, and consistently deliver successful and sustainable outcomes, through an independent, best-practice lens.

The higher the maturity level, the better the business is able to navigate complexities, seize opportunities, adapt, and drive overall success through efficient and effective execution of projects, programmes, and portfolios.

PMO and Project Management Maturity

PMOs are integrators, they bridge inter-departmental silos and bring the pieces together to support the portfolio of projects, programmes, and portfolios to operate as a single ecosystem.

This is achieved through balancing three (3) essential variables within P3M governance that work as enablers to successful delivery: people, processes, and tools.

P3M Governance People Processes and Tools

P3M  is how the PMO supports the governance of projects, programmes, and portfolios in the organisation.

Within it, the PMO golden triangle of people-processes tools does not exist in a vacuum, and this sought-after balance is highly dependent on the individual directing the project, programme, or portfolio (the Sponsor).

In fact, Sponsorship is considered one of the key enablers to projects and programmes succeeding, AND one of the biggest reasons for failure. Likewise, PMO value and subsequent maturity are greatly influenced by the power behind the Leadership.

Achieving Value

To support the search for balance and identify project maturity to drive focus Assessors must consider how well-defined, bought into, and supported the methodologies, governance routes and mechanisms for the approval are, such as stage gates and escalation of exceptions.

For the PMO, these mechanics of P3M governance are not enough. Teams need to go much deeper so a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the governance bodies and their interaction with the PMO, its subsequent remit and objectives, the level of availability and commitment of the PMO Sponsor to guide its direction, and the use of KPIs for the measurement of PMO performance, can all impact where the PMO is in its journey.

Reaching Maturity

Enablers to maturity are designed in different ways by different types of maturity assessments. For example, the Wellingtone PMO & PPM Assessment assesses 15 value enablers, whereas the Axelos P3M3 model focuses on 7 with a keen focus across a variety of threads that straddle each of them.

Both of these assessments will map the PMO and PPM practice on a maturity scale ranging from 0 to 5. The higher the level, the more mature you are.

Although assessments have to be completed by an independent accredited company such as Wellingtone (who offer both aforementioned models), there are some steps that you can take right now to work towards the point of maturity you are aspiring to. Some may appear simple but ensuring that some of the foundations are in place, will get teams ready to start the roadmap journey to the next level.

1) Appropriate methodology

Many organisations struggle to use their project methodologies effectively. Sometimes, we make these methods very complex and clever, which actually makes them hard to use. People end up finding ways around them instead of following them. The way to address this is to develop a straightforward and adaptable approach that can accommodate various project sizes, levels of risk, impact, and cost considerations, enabling smoother and more successful execution of projects and programmes.

2) Accessible resources

Many PMOs focus their effort on creating the most comprehensive project management document templates. Because there is no effort versus reward analysis completed to understand the level of maturity of these resources, they often become overwhelmingly intricate, deterring widespread use which is counterproductive. Reworking these documents by structuring them around a series of concise questions, streamlining the content, and prioritising simplicity and user-friendliness will enhance their accessibility.

3) Basic Training

Basic project management training provides significant value to an organisation and should not be underestimated. It equips teams with the essential skills and strategies to navigate the complexities of projects effectively by fostering a culture of structured planning, efficient resource allocation, and seamless communication. Project management training enhances collaboration and mitigates risks. It helps teams to handle challenges, deliver outputs on time, and succeed. Fundamentally it creates skilled teams that are able to adapt, which in turn helps the organisation grow and achieve more.

4) Schedule or Plan Templates

Project planning templates are valuable tools that offer a structured and standardised framework for effectively planning and managing projects. These documents encompass a range of essential project components, such as schedules, budgets, task lists, communication plans, and risk assessments. By utilising these templates, teams can streamline their processes, ensuring consistent and efficient project execution. These templates serve as guides, promoting best practices and helping teams avoid reinventing the wheel for every new project.

5) The PMO Matters

PMOs emerge from diverse drivers, with value in Strategy, Centre of Excellence, Delivery, and Assurance. Because the effectiveness of a Project Management Office (PMO) is intertwined with organisational maturity, it is important that it transcends the aspirational level of maturity to provide real value as an enabler. However, balancing support and change is tricky because the unique PMO journey matters. Standard models may not fit, so it is important to consider their purpose, current value, and future vision carefully.

Committing to Maturity

Project management maturity analysis and planning is not a one-time event but an iterative process. It provides valuable insights into the capabilities and the deficits that exist in an organisation and creates a guiding path toward improved execution and ultimately business success.

An organisation has to be ready for an assessment. Open to critique as well as change.

To get ready, communicating the benefits of completing an assessment and committing to the journey can help to drive a case for change:

  • Enhanced return on investment from change initiatives
  • Cost and efficiency savings from delivery such as:
    • Delivery cost and quality of project outputs and programme outcomes
    • Improved schedule and budget estimation
    • Healthier requirements
    • Better organisational decision-making and increased productivity
    • Effective knowledge management practices
    • More integrated end-to-end processes
  • An embedded culture of continual improvement that champions PPM as a discipline
  • Increased customer satisfaction as they perceive the strategic investment in PPM
  • Improved team morale and reduced learning curves thanks to supportive processes

Chat with Wellingtone to find out more about how you can achieve some of these benefits and take your next step to maturity.

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By: Baz Khinda

Baz Khinda
Commercial Director, BA, MBS, MCTS, CertBusM, PRINCE2, Microsoft P-SSP (Partner Solution Sales professional)

Published: 9 August 2023

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