Project Management Maturity: A Framework Refresher

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

Much is written about maturity models but not so much about how they relate to the maturity of project management within an organization. In general, maturity models are based on five basic stages of growth of a process, discipline or practice within an organization as follows:

Level 1 - Initial – where most organizations begin to experiment. This level is usually characterized as chaotic, ad-hoc, heuristic and unstructured. Often success at this stage is dependent on the talents of specific individuals and the outcomes are not consistent or predictable.

Level 2 - Defined – This level is typified by the institutionalization of a standard way of doing that is governed by policy and habit.

Level 3 - Managed – This level is where the organization realizes a need to provide planning and oversight. Typically, this stage is only needed when the process, discipline or practice is frequent, costly and mission critical.

Level 4 - Measured – This level is where the organization begins to inspect the efficiency of the practice and begins introducing baselines and performance metrics into the governance process.

Level 5 - Optimized – This level is where the organization focuses its governance on Best Practices. Process improvement, operational excellence, performance management and other frameworks are embedded into the culture.

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"Nearly every great advance in science arises from a crisis in the old theory, through an endeavor to find a way out of the difficulties created. We must examine old ideas, old theories, although they belong to the past, for this is the only way to understand the importance of the new ones and the extent of their validity."

- Albert Einstein

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