The business world in the early 90’s saw organisations start managing their own projects and the title of project manager became increasingly relevant within the organisational setting. Many organisations moved towards a principle called the PRINCE2M to create consistency in the way they managed their projects and to help the increasing number of project managers in their work (Kezner, 2005).
Due to the demand for project management and the rising number of project managers in the industry, organisations started basing their recruitment and strategic planning models on competencies of project management. However, project management requires more than certification from an accredited institution.
It requires more than just training of managers. A successful organisation must have processes, tools, policies and standards that will help it to excel in all the projects it undertakes and this excellence cannot be obtained in the absence of other management systems which must be integrated for the project management standards to work effectively.
Apart from the project infrastructure, an organisation requires high performing individuals but the two aforementioned variables working in isolation cannot guarantee long term or consistency in performance.
To start with, this infrastructure cannot establish itself; it needs efficient human capital to establish it and this may take several years. The establishment itself needs to follow certain standards and principles for it to be successful and this call for a model that can be used to guide managers through the process. Project managers need to know what they need to do and the methods that they need to arrive at a certain destination.
This is why maturity models are important in project management. The work of the project maturity models is to describe the scope of the projects and the activities that may be related to the project. It also entails the establishment of the key process areas that are vital in the achievement of successful outcomes
What is a Project Management Maturity Model?
This is a progressive process that allows businesses, firms and organisations to make consistent and evident improvements in the course of the development of a project. Many people think that a project maturity model is a tool that can be used to transform a project rapidly.
This is a misconception because it is supposed to be a continuous process where the outcomes of project improvement are seen as time goes by and as the project moves towards its completion. Maturity levels for a project depend on the nature of the project and the needs of the organisation.
They also depend on the level of maturity the organisation wants to achieve and in most cases projects that are singular or unique in nature do not require a high level of maturity as opposed to regular and multiple projects (Kezner, 2005).
Project management maturity always focuses on continuous improvement even if the highest level of maturity has been achieved. These continuous improvements are necessary because the modern organisational world is highly dynamic meaning that there are emergent issues that need to be addressed. These include logistical constraints and technological advancements.
This means that an organisation must be flexible enough to outsource external help while developing a project to the required level of maturity because this allows for an unbiased and neutral outlook of the processes that are guiding the development of the project (Cleland, 2006). Organisations also need to be aware of their current level of maturity before it can embark on the process of continuous improvement.
This means that there must be a complete assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, objectives and competencies and this assessment has to be objective for it to guide the process of continuous improvement of the projects being undertaken.
A project management maturity model can help organisations to decide on the level of maturity that the projects it is undertaking should achieve and this can be guided by a complete assessment carried out by professional consultants who are well versed in the project management trends. There are five levels of maturity that can be used to judge any project (Gareis, 2005).
The least desired level of project maturity is called the chaotic level and in this phase of project development there is neither a registered process nor noticeable presence of best practices being used currently in the organisational setting.
The second level of maturity is called the active level and in this level the processes in the project are effectively document and there is a noticeable attempt to carry out the works in the project using these documentations though the results of the project at this level may not be noticeable.
They may appear ad hoc because the project has not started following the strategies and the disciplines of the organisation to the letter (Kezner, 2005).
The next level is the efficient maturity level where there is an evidence of the disciplines and laid out processes being followed by the parts of the project though not all parts of the project may be sticking to these laid out guidelines to the letter.
The next level of project maturity is called the responsive level where there is consistency in the application the required processes which are normally measured and set to optimal standards. At this level, the management is responsive to any changes that may be required during the project management process (Delaware, 2006).
The last level of maturity is called the business driven level and this level is achieved when the project is able to generate its own data and information that may be used to make in depth decisions which may be applied in setting up standard and practices that guide organizational practices.
This level follows continuous improvement ensuring that projects in any organisation utilise the best practices along a relevant down process which is not too stagnant meaning that continuous improvement efforts are out in.
Not all project maturity models follow the aforementioned levels of maturity but good models like OGC and P3M3 are likely to give the best results in project management because they go beyond the project management activities that are being carried out at the individual level meaning that they encompass other activities within an organisation that build and maintain a program ensuring tat effective methods and managerial practices are used (Wetzel, 2002).
If organisations undertake a maturity assessment against the aforementioned models, they will be able to effectively verify what they have achieved, analyse their strong and weak points which will help them to chart a course that will prioritise actions that will enable the organisation to achieve a higher level of capability through constant improvements guided by the best practices in the industry.
How can organisations improve their overall productivity using the models?
Program management maturity models help organisations to break down the process of organisational improvement into manageable bits by allowing it to address the lower KPAs before the higher KPAs. First, organisations identify the level they are operating at and then identify the place they want to be.
It is not compulsory for all organisations to be at maturity level five because the ideal maturity level is determined by the level of importance of the project.
When organisations identify where they want to be, the models helps them to get ways of taking them where they want to be. The program management maturity models often guide organisational processes meaning that for the company to get to the place it wants to be it must address its existing policies, processes, standards and structures and see whether they are efficient enough to take it where it wants to be or they need to be changed.
Sometimes, maturity models force organisations to change the way work is done within its structure therefore affecting the working practices of people (Stevens, 2002). In some cases, this change can be significant and the maturity models help the organizations to handle the transition.
One of the project management models that has helped organisations to improved their overall productivity is the sigma six model which helps them to create an effective roadmap and ensures that all the suggested solutions work in favour of the organisation.
The sigma six models help organisations to increase their ability of collecting metrics which in turn create a solid platform for ongoing improvement through establishment of key performance indicators. P3M3 is another model that has helped organisations to improve their productivity.
To start with, the model helps organisations to make effective procurement decisions but the most effective application of the model is in skills development. Using the P3M3 competency map, it is possible to create a roadmap of training programs that are relevant and are in accordance with the abilities of organisations.
This model has proved to be effective in human resource management within organisations because it allows organisations to structure their competencies around the competency framework and this is a very effective assessment for benchmarking people within an organisation.
The importance of organizational strategy and how project management link to objectives to achieve results
Organizational strategy is very important in project management and aligning project management to organisational strategy helps the program to achieve the desired results because of its alignment to organisational objectives.
Traditional business managers focused on getting the job done without regard for the objectives of the organisation meaning that they did not focus on the business results for which the project was created. It is important to note that projects are investments and this implies that money to fund the project must support the business or organisational strategy.
In the modern organisational setting a project is successful if it meets the strategic objectives of a company or an organisation regardless of whether the results are able to cover the margins of the investment. For organisational strategy to be achieved and for objectives to be used to achieve results in project management, there must be a strategic leadership (Phillips, 2002).
These leaders and project managers must be able to make effective decisions and concentrate on achieving the strategic vision of the project.
Another important element of organisational strategy in project management is strategic project portfolio management which outlines the priority of project execution according to the strategic impact of the project, the perspectives and the outlook of the business and the resources that the organisation has at its disposal.
A project must have a strategy which means that for it to meet the objectives of the organisation and produce the desired results; there must be a definition of the competitive advantage of the product which will help in articulation of comprehensive project strategy that will help the product to be a winner in the market.
Simply put, linking project management to the strategic objectives of an organisation is something that must be upheld in the modern organisational environment because organisations have evolved and the most important thing in an organisation is its strategic direction and objective (Lock, 2007).
Any process that does not factor the strategic direction and objectives of an organisation is absolutely redundant in the modern organisational setting.
As days go by, the organisational environment is becoming more and more competitive and organisation are facing fiercer competition which means that an expansive concept of project management that goes in line with organisational strategy will definitely help organisations to attain a competitive advantage by ensuring that the outcomes of the project are aligned with the organisational objectives.
The transition towards an expansive concept of project management calla for a change in organisational structure and culture which will help in modification of processes which will make project management a strategic process.
Project communication methods and role of the stakeholders
Communication in a project is a very important process. The methods that are used in communication depend on the type and the scale of the project. These methods may be verbal or written; they may also be interactive or collaborative but as stated above, the nature of the project determines the communication method used.
Large projects would be compromised by verbal communication. Large projects require written communication at every stage because it allows for documentation and referrals during and after the project. However, written communication is governed by legal and linguistic factors that revolve around privacy protection and accessibility.
In a case where the stakeholders are distributed over a wide area, there is a risk of dilution of clarity of information meaning that the project communication managers must use cross functional and inter-organisational communicational channels to ensure that relevant and clear information gets to the stakeholders (Kwak,2005).
Face to face communication is increasingly being phased out by advances in technology but it is a very important tool when the project managers are meeting the stakeholders. It is also good for formal briefings for mass audiences. E mails are the best forms of written communication because of its speed and posterity though they may be unread by the target recipient.
Newsletters are very good for creating general awareness about a project. Notices and posters may not be as effective as emails but they are also important for communicating changes especially the simple ones.
Manuals and formal project documents are other important communication methods for projects because they are usually detailed also serve as user guides. Finally blogs have become effective ways of project communication because they are being used by project managers to keep stakeholders updated and also serve as marketing avenues
Role of Stakeholders in a Project
Project stakeholders are entities inside or outside the organisation that may be either sponsoring the project, has an interest in the project because they stand to gain from it or may be impacted upon by the completed completion. These include the customer, project managers, the team and the sponsors. The most important stakeholders are the sponsors, the managers and the customers.
The role of the sponsor is to finance the project and to give the manager the authority to make vital decision that concerns the objectives of the project. They also help the project manager to resolves some aspects of the project objectives that may not be clear.
The project manager’s role is to take charge of the approved plan, to maintain relationship with the clients and to manage the expectations of the clients. The managers make vital decisions regarding the project and also manage the team that works on the project.
The work of the customer is to provide directions for functional quality through the expectations they raise (Ireland, 2006). They keep the project manager and the team ob their toes ensuring that the outcome of the project is in line with their expectations.
Project Quality, Successes and Failures
Poor quality of project management can compromise a successful project especially when the manager overlooks the specifications of the sponsor and the client. The latter determine the quality of a project. Quality of a project is not determined by the materials used or the infrastructure in place neither does it determines the levels of flawlessness.
A project may have defects and still meet the expectations of the client while another may be flawless but it fails to meet these expectations. This means that the first ting that the project manager and the team should take into consideration is the expectations of the client and then out a plan that will help them to meet the expectations (Kezner, 2005).
An example of a successful project management process has the following components. To start with, it must have criteria for correctness and completeness which will give the team a common expectation of what the client requires. Secondly, it must have a quality control process to ensure that the deliverables are of high quality and they meet the expectations of the customer.
The third is the quality assurance process that minimises the levels of errors in the project. Examples of troubled projects include evidence of higher maintenance and supports costs, poor quality solutions that dissatisfy the customer, missed deadlines and they also exceed the budget and poor team work within the team.
It is important to note that quality management is a continuous process that the team and the managers need to focus on throughout the entire life of the project.
A better part of this paper has addressed the nature of project maturity models and how they are useful in project management.
Maturity models can enhance the success of the project by providing a roadmap that will ensure that an organisation makes continuous improvements on the project and also ensure that the projects are carried out according to the specifications of the clients. Most maturity models can enhance the quality hence the quality of a project but the model that has proved to be very effective is the sigma six model.
Cleland, I. (2006). Global project management handbook. NY: McGraw-Hill Professional.
Delaware, P. (2005). The right projects done right! NY: John Wiley and Sons.
Gareis, R. (2006). Global project management handbook. NY: McGraw-Hill Professional.
Ireland, L. (2006). Project Management. NY: McGraw-Hill Professional..
Kezner, H. (2005).Using the project management maturity model. Oxford. OUP
Kwak, Y. (2005). A brief history of Project Management: The story of managing projects. NY: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Lock, D. (2007). Project management. Chicago: Gower Publishing, Ltd
Phillips, J. (2003). PMP Project Management Professional Study Guide. NY: McGraw-Hill Professional.
Stevens, M. (2002). Project Management Pathways. WA: APM Publishing Limited.
Wetzel, M. (2003). Fifty key figures in management. NJ. Rutledge