Join Terri Wagner for an in-depth discussion in this video Factoring in project management maturity at your organization, part of Project Management: Preventing Scope Creep.
There are many different types of project management methodologies. Ranging from the small business that flies by the seat of its pants, to a highly efficient organization that has clearly defined processes that repeat successfully on every project. The level of structure and repeatability in a project management process is referred to as an organization's project management maturity level. One of the earliest project management maturity models was commissioned by the United States government to objectively assess the ability of a potential contractor to efficiently and successfully perform a software development project.
That original model is called the Capability Maturity Model or sometimes just referred to as CMM. It was later expanded to CMMI, with the I standing for integration. The model is in the public domain, and you can easily find a wealth of information about it on the Internet. After that model was introduced, many others have come on the market through various sources. And their use has expanded well beyond software development project types. Going forward, I will be referring to the CMM model as our framework, recognizing that there are several other models in the marketplace.
What the US government requires is an independent assessment of an organization's maturity along a five-level scale. Government contracts would only be awarded to organizations that were at least mid-range along the scale. Typically, when any organization is being independently assessed, their initial level of maturity is documented and certified along with identification of areas for improvement. Which often becomes a road map, outlining the necessary steps to take towards advancement to the next level of maturity and performance improvement.
The definition of the term maturity, in terms of project management, relates to the degree of formality and optimization of processes. From ad hoc practices to formally defined steps to managed metrics to active optimization of the processes. Predictability, effectiveness and control of an organization's processes are thought to improve as the organization moves up through these five levels. Let's look a little more closely at the levels. Level one is referred to as initial. It is characteristic of processes at this level to be undocumented and in a state of dynamic change, tending to be driven in ad hoc or uncontrolled and reactive manners by users and events.
For example, think of a group of technicians doing network installations. When they get to the order for new business, each installer would do their best to understand each order, grab their toolkit and head to the client's site and try to do the install. There's no clear statement of work, no formal process or checklist to complete the work. There was no prioritization of the work. A very chaotic approach that depends on individual heroics or perseverance. Level two is called repeatable. Its characteristic at this level that some processes are documented and repeatable, possibly with consistent results.
Process discipline is unlikely to be rigorous. But where it exists, it may help to ensure that existing processes are maintained during times of stress. Our network installers at level two now have a clear checklist of all the steps they would take during the installation. They are now creating a clear bill of material in advance and listing all elements they would need to take with them to the installation. Level three is called defined. Processes at this level will span the life of a project and be referred to by a named project methodology that all team members within the project group are aware of and use.
The methodology includes sets of defined and documented standard processes that are well established and subject to some degree of improvement over time. Documentation is decomposed down to templates and work instructions. These standard processes are used to establish consistency of process performance across the organization. Certification at level three is often the minimal level required to compete for U.S. government contracts. Our installers at level three would have a full methodology, including templates for all stages of their installation.
They would also have a clear listing that prioritized their work. At this level, all of our installers would be completing their work in the same way following the same steps and organization. Level four is called managed. It is characteristic at this level that the process is quantitatively managed based on an agreed-upon metrics. For example, management can identify ways to adjust and adapt the process to particular projects, without measurable losses of quality or deviation from specifications.
For our network installers, this means that the installs were for a predetermined amount of work that was consistently completed in a fixed amount of time at a similar cost. Basically, at this level, when the installation work is done, the quality is consistent. Unlike levels one or two, where the results were more unpredictable. Level five is called optimizing. Process management at this level includes deliberate optimization. At this level, the focus is on continually improving process performance through incremental and innovative technology changes or improvements.
At this level, our installers are so good and so consistent at completing the work, they're now focused on opportunities for small innovations and increased efficiencies. Things that will improve the entire process in the client experience. Remember, the more mature an organization is, the less likely scope creep will occur. By the time an organization has reached level three in the maturity model, a project manager is unlikely to be cornered in the lunchroom, or on a phone, and asked to squeeze in additional scope without regard for cost or time impacts.
Clear change control processes would be in place with cost-benefit analysis techniques used for formal assessment. So I want to challenge you to think about what level of maturity your organization is at. Are you more like the small business that isn't very organized? Or are you striving to be more like an efficient organization that uses proven processes to complete work successfully? No matter where you fall on the maturity scale, don't worry, we'll discuss ways to help you improve and grow your project management maturity.
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- What is scope creep?
- Why does scope change?
- Factoring in organizational maturity
- Setting scope and requirements
- Building a budget
- Resetting unrealistic expectations
- Resolving communication issues with stakeholders<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.