I’ve written a lot about the criticality of organizational project management maturity in increasing the likelihood of complex projects delivering expected value within approved baselines.
Without a modest level of organizational support, the most capable project managers will find themselves hamstrung by weak project sponsors, turf protecting resource managers and distracted, overwhelmed team members. On the other hand, organizations at a higher level of maturity will enable novice project managers to succeed by giving them the right tools, support and guidance to develop.
But what does a higher level of organizational project management maturity look like?
If we took the approach used by many maturity model-based assessments, we’d be checking for the existence of higher level processes. But existence of processes doesn’t prove capability. So perhaps we need to look for some more compelling evidence.
Project management onboarding
It’s common for companies to provide onboarding for new project managers on methodology, governance or tools, but how many provide a primer on project management for all staff? Organizations which have fully institutionalized quality practices ensure that everyone has a solid grounding in quality principles so why wouldn’t the same hold true for project management?
360 degree project manager evaluations
In strong matrix or projectized organizations it is common for project managers to provide a formal evaluation of the performance of their team members as those resources are released from projects. But requiring that project managers also get evaluated by team members and peer-level resource managers can provide valuable feedback which could improve both servant leadership and stakeholder management skills.
One source of truth for project & portfolio status
Lower maturity organizations usually have multiple views on the status of a given project as demanded by different stakeholders. The effort to produce and reconcile these incurs significant effort and frustration on the part of project teams and PMOs. In higher maturity organizations, project status is reported once and the informational needs of different stakeholders are met through automation and not through administration.
Practice & governance is recognized as adding value not overhead
At lower maturity firms, practice and governance functions are either absent or are process cops. Without these functions, detection of troubled projects may occur too late to enable effective recovery. In the latter case, project failures might be rare but the cost of delivery is so high and time to market so long that business value is as much at risk as it is in the former.
Effective use of lessons learned
Favoring quality over quantity, higher maturity companies will fully exploit lessons identified in projects by baking them into their standard practices, focusing training on behaviors which need to change, and having their executive teams own the removal of major organizational or process impediments.
True portfolio risk management
Project management risk management practices are right-sized and are deemed to deliver value by preventing or reducing the impact of issues. But in higher maturity companies, contingency reserves are managed at a portfolio level to ensure a cost effective hedge against risks and the interdependency between operational and project risks is constantly monitored.
These are just a few of the signs I’d look for – which other ones can you come up with?