Consider Organizational Project Management Maturity when Implementing Portfolio Project Management (PPM)

13 August

Organizations that outperform do so because of strong execution of and focus on strategic projects.  Accordingly many organizations are turning to portfolio project management (PPM) as the way to address the multi-project and resource conflict that exists in most organizations to improve execution and focus. However a step that is usually missed when putting a PPM process in place is assessing the organization’s project management maturity at the strategic, developmental and tactical levels. Each has it own defined maturity model.

Once management has developed a portfolio of valuable projects, the focus should be on flawless project execution to maximize project profitability and the return on project investments. The missing link is that many organizations do not have the level of project management maturity to deliver flawless execution. Just because you have prioritized a handful of projects doesn’t mean you can actually execute them. All projects cannot be implemented at once and factors to consider in selecting improvement projects include business impact, risk, organizational constraints and alignment with the organization’s project management readiness to carry things out.

It’s highly probable that if you are venturing into the PPM arena the executive team will need some education and awareness of the PPM process and define the role of the project management office and the project managers at the tactical level where development investments have probably been minimal at best and who will need support through training and mentoring to drive results.

To define the journey, the use of the evolutionary progress of project management within a company, expressed as a maturity model, is helpful. The maturity model reveals the spectrum of experience from apprentice to experienced practitioner. It helps the inexperienced audience understand all the elements that go into the process of growth and accomplishment in project management. It enables one to judge what is present in the organization and what is not, and becomes a means to establish a baseline. Given this insight, it then becomes more apparent what strengths exist and what things are lacking. What roles need to change? What new roles are emerging? What are the best practices for transforming to a PPM process and PMO environment to obtain the desired outcomes? You will find that many of the factors required for project management success may not be in your current skill set at all levels.

Even though every firm is different, this broad maturity pattern can provide a useful guide. The maturity model becomes the basis for laying out a journey over time and helps define the road map of planned efforts and investments. It is helpful to use the model as a guide and tailor it to your organization. It can be readily used as a visual aid to gain understanding and support of those not familiar with project management and the process perspective.

The success of an organization is contingent on being able to make predictions and commitments relative to its products and services. Consequently, maturity is of interest to project management professionals at the organizational level since a mature organization in terms of project management is viewed as one that is better able to meet its project commitments. Maturity is defined as full development or a perfected condition. It also connotes understanding or visibility as to why success occurs and ways to prevent common recurring problems. It implies that capabilities must be grown over time. In terms of project management this relates to capabilities that can produce repeatable success in project execution.  Examples of these capabilities include:

Ability to effectively coordinate, control and execute multiple projects across the enterprise with limited resources.

Utilizing uniform principles and processes and integrating them throughout the organization.

Visibility to project status with clear and open communication that flows freely throughout the organization.

Assessing the organization’s project management capability sets the stage for continuous improvement in project management practices that will improve overall project delivery capability. Organizational maturity assessments are designed to:

Measure the ability of the organization’s collective project management staff to repeatedly deliver projects that meet business and technical requirements, on time and within budget.

Identify gaps in current project management capabilities that need to be concentrated on to immediately increase project profitability.

Provide an indicator of how effective the organization is in meeting its goals in managing projects and meeting strategic objectives.

Project management for years has been a bottom up process but it really needs to begin in the executive suite and not moving in that direction indicates a gap in strategy. When looking to improve your project execution process, it is important to understand the skills that already exist or do not exist across the organization.

There are maturity models for portfolio project management, the project management office and tactical project management and if you would like copies please send me an e-mail.

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