The significance of Project Management maturity

In order to be effective, Project Management training must be appropriate to the organisational Project Management maturity.

What is Project Management maturity?

Models for Project Management maturity are used internationally by organisations as a measure of their relevant capability. The levels of maturity are generally described as follows:

  • Level 1: Common Project Management language
  • Level 2: Common Project Management processes
  • Level 3: Single Project Management methodology
  • Level 4: Benchmarking Project Management process improvement
  • Level 5: Continuous Project Management improvement

Harold Kerzner developed his Project Management Maturity Roadmap by studying Project Management efforts and lessons learned in hundreds of organisations. Other models, such as the PRINCE2® Maturity Model and the Berkeley PM Maturity Model, differ from Kerzner’s in their descriptions of the characteristics of each level. However, all the well-known models identify five levels.

These levels relect the Project Management maturity of the organisation, not the maturity and Project Management skills of individuals in the organisation. Depending on the size of the organisation and its projects, it may not be necessary to move up through all the maturity levels.

These levels reflect the maturity of the organisation, not the maturity and Project Management skills of individuals.

Certain levels can and do overlap, but each level must be completed before moving up to the next level. This has significant implications for Project Management training.

The implication for training

It is essential to begin with training that imparts a thorough understanding of the fundamental principles and language of Project Management in terms of their relevance to the organisation and its projects.

The first step is to equip the organisation’s senior decision-makers to set a strategic direction for Project Management and to formulate measures for success. They will themselves have to learn the ‘language’ of Project Management so that they can communicate their expectations to those who report to them.

The first people to be trained thereafter are those who will have to play a role in the implementation of the decisions taken by senior management. Depending on how the organisation is structured, these may include heads of departments, other important influencers and key technical staff, as well as people who are already managing important projects.

Their contribution and feedback to senior management will set the direction for the next round of training, which will be for everyone else who will be playing a role in projects.

This initial training for staff should provide a practical approach which can be immediately implemented in the organisation upon completion of the training.

The training must provide a clear means of ensuring that the common language is entrenched, and that the trainees get into the habit of Project Management thinking—for example, by means of quizzes, internal discussion groups and mentoring.

Implementation of the learning from such training brings the organisation to Maturity Level 1. Based on the relative success of such implementation, and in the light of challenges and requirements which emerge, further training can be provided to enhance participants’ skills and later also to move the organisation to Level 2.

Training in methodologies and frameworks such as PRINCE2® or Scrum should definitely not be considered as a first step. An attempt to skip Levels 1 and 2 almost always results in project teams serving the ‘system’ rather than that the system serves them. Senior decision-makers will not have fully understood the purpose of setting up authority structures and infrastructure required to implement a Project Management methodology. As a result, people affected by projects—including those in senior positions—don’t understand their roles and responsibilities in projects in terms of the bigger organisational picture. Restricted by seemingly unnecessary reporting requirements, they find workarounds in order to bypass the system so that they can get their work done. In the long run, this leads to cynicism and resistance to formal Project Management, to the detriment of the organisation.

Thus, training which does not fit the organisation’s maturity level is usually a waste of time and money, and can do more harm than good.

Tania Melnyczuk

Director of Programme Design at ProjectManagement.co.za and the Collaboration Director of the Autistic Strategies Network.

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