Everyone who has worked in more than one place of business knows that here are many different types of project management methodologies.
Personally, I have worked both in a smaller environment where you are literally flying by the seat of your pants to get projects completed on time and budget, to a larger organization where things were done in a very efficient manner with clearly defined process and the resources to accomplish the project at hand. This level of structure and the repeated nature of following these processes is known as an organization’s project management maturity level.
One of the earliest project management maturity models was begun by the US government to gauge the ability of a potential contractor to successfully perform software development projects. That original model is called the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). Basically, the CMMI is a framework for business process improvement. Since the introduction of this model, there are now many other models to gauge business processes, but they all measure the overall efficiency of the business process and rank a company’s project management maturity level.
CMMI requires an independent assessment of an organization’s process maturity on a five level scale. In regard to project management, the definition of maturity relates to the degree of structure and the effectiveness of processes in the organization. Effectiveness and control of an organization’s processes are judged to be more efficient and mature as they move up this five level grading scale.
To summarize the five levels, the first level is known as the initial level. Most of the processes in this level are undocumented and in a state of constant change. I know, I have been here before. Usually situations are dealt with in a reactive manner and obviously, things are not as well run as they could be. Often the job gets done, but not as smoothly as it perhaps could have been. In other words, if there were more formal processes to follow things would have been done in a more efficient manner often saving on costs, resource allocation etc.
The second level may see the implementation of checklists and clearly defined steps. All processes at level two would run the length of the project and the methodology would be used and known by all team members.
Obviously, as the levels go up the scale, they increase in consistency of practice, organization wide templates, team understanding, organizational maturity and performance improvement. In other words, the higher you go up the scale the more smoothly running machine you create toward project completion and the most effective means to complete it. Also, project work is clearly prioritized and all members of the team understand the priorities.
Also another advantage of moving up this scale is that the higher you go and the more efficient you are, the group can start to look for innovations and take advantage of opportunities to make the process run even more smoothly. If you are always putting out fires, you simply don’t have the time to look at things objectively and make them better. But if you are a well run machine at levels four and five, you have the time to shift your focus on continually improving process performance through incremental and innovative technology changes or improvements. Also, the more mature an organization is and the further developed it’s project management methodology is, scope creep is less likely to occur and a defined change control process would be in place.
All worthy goals to aspire to. Some smaller venues may never get beyond level two, but knowing that a scale such as the CMMI exists that allows your organization to aspire to use proven processes to complete your projects successfully on time and on budget is a worthy endeavor. It never hurts to realize that different organizations have different project maturity levels. If yours falls lower on the scale than you are comfortable with, consider the implementation of sound project management steps and principles that can be introduced to raise its level to produce a more efficiently run project team.