From the ground up

MANAGING | Maturity

Project practitioners needn't wait for help from above to strengthen their organization's project management maturity.



The onus of strengthening an organization's project management maturity isn't solely on executives. As project practitioners, we also have a responsibility to improve our organizations’ maturity.

Does that statement take you by surprise? Are you asking yourself, “How can I, as an individual at the project management level, affect my organization's maturity?”


If project practitioners understand an organization's project management goals, they then can determine if they are helping to attain them. Not sure what those goals are? Just ask your manager.

Each project or program that project practitioners manage should support not only the overall portfolio of financial objectives, but also client and stakeholder satisfaction levels. Project practitioners should periodically review project and program plans with all three objectives in mind and discuss the results with their teams. The reviews should consider the business objectives as well as key knowledge areas of such industry standards as A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).

During the review discussions, all must openly share their observations. Where a project or program is off course, discuss deficiencies as part of a mitigation plan and assign action items to team members. Then establish checkpoints for those actions to ensure completion.

Using project management methodology and tools guarantees a consistency in delivery. These must be integrated into the organization's management system to be most effective. Maturity can be compromised if team members lack an understanding or don't use a standard set of project management practices. Organizations should express project management policy when onboarding employees and reiterate its importance at company-wide meetings.


Project practitioners can improve organizational project management maturity in more ways than one:

  • Never stop learning. Personal skill development contributes to the organization's project management maturity. In-depth knowledge of project management methodologies and approaches and, in particular, attainment of a professional credential such as the PMI Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential helps practitioners be better qualified to understand and support organizational objectives.
  • Never stop teaching. Project and program managers must be active members of their professional community, especially within the organization. They can assist the profession in a variety of roles—as team leaders, mentors or subject-matter experts for particular aspects of project management.

    Sharing experience across one's team and community through white papers and lunch-and-learns builds the knowledge-management profile of both the organization and the practitioner, leading to increased organizational maturity.

  • Always be business-minded. In today's complex, global environment, business acumen and organizational skills and strong communication skills can help project practitioners develop invaluable communications plans with teams, stakeholders and clients.

Bottom line: To mutually raise their own and their organization's maturity, individuals must not only understand the goals of the projects and programs, but also develop their skills, build their experience levels, and get involved with their teams and professional communities. PM



Deborah (Debi) A. Dell, PMP, is the manager of the Project Management Center of Excellence at IBM, a PMI Global Executive Council member. She works from her home in Delray Beach, Florida, USA.