by Jurie Smith

Project management maturity

Human Resources

Ffirms should ensure they are at a suitable level of maturity in order to cope with change
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Businesses are under continuous pressure to streamline their operations in order to reap greater rewards and remain competitive in the current global business environment. The way to overcome these ever metamorphosing conditions is to ensure firms are at a suitable level of maturity in order to cope with change.

A 2004 survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that a higher maturity level for an organisation enhances all projects’ performance  not in just one project, but in the overall project portfolio.

A maturity assessment helps compare the organisational project practices against best practices using an assessment tool such as OPM3® (Organisational Project Management Maturity Model) and the United Kingdom Cabinet Office’s Portfolio, Programme and Project Management Maturity Model (P3M3®). Best practices are optimal ways of achieving goals and objectives recognised by industry.

Project management maturity is about establishing what the current position of the organisation is, determining the future desired state, and identifying the gap between the two; this precipitates the need for a road map from the status quo to the future desired condition with goals to be achieved along the way set as a resolution to the gap.

It is important from the onset to know what the all-inclusive goal of the organisation is. This could not be better illustrated by Lewis Carroll’s (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) characters in the 1865 novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Alice asked the Cheshire cat, “Would you please tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

“That depends a good deal where you want to get to,” the cat responded.

“I don’t much care,” Alice replied.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” the cat replied.

Organisational project management maturity is the extent to which the business carries out project, programme and portfolio management practices to achieve organisational goals. That being said, it is incumbent upon the organisation to be aware of the necessary steps to be taken in order to guarantee that all echelons of the organisation are at parity or similar levels of maturity.

Assessment tools use various levels as building blocks to reach the appropriate level per organisation. There are typically five levels of maturity in the Project Management Maturity Assessment Tools.

The descriptors per level vary, and an example of this could be:

An initial goal for organisations to strive for is level 3. At this level, all project management standards, processes, methods, procedures and staff are all operating at the required specification and consistently implemented throughout the organisation.

From my experience, a large number of organisations in South Africa have not yet attained the Level 3 mark and most corporates are still on Level 1. The reason for this may be an inconsistent application of best practices across the entire organisation. There may be pockets of excellence, followed by some managers who may be utilising them inconsistently or not at all. As a result, this reduces the level of overall project management maturity.

It is common to find that some members within the organisation are utilising best practice methods while others are yet to implement them.

In the long run, the organisation must continuously be on a path of improvement and continue to refine the project management knowledge base. It is necessary for all individuals concerned to understand the project management practices in order to achieve a genuine project-driven environment within the organisation.


Jurie Smith (MBA, PMP®, PRINCE2® Practitioner, and MSP®) is the chief executive at PM Academy. He is an experienced business executive with over 24 years’ experience in project management consulting and training. He is a project management assessor registered with the Services Sector Education and Training Authority, an executive on the Steering Committee of the Project Management Standards Generating Body, and has held various executive positions at Project Management South Africa. For further details, email jurie@pmacademy.co.za or visit www.pmacademy.co.za.

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