Project Management Institute

Objective measures

MANAGING   Maturity

To discover the project, program and portfolio maturity your organization needs, connect with leaders at the top.


Organizations use portfolio management to improve the selection of projects and programs within their portfolios, yet boosting the organization's maturity has proven fundamental to meeting a portfolio's desired ROI.

The first step to achieving business results is to determine how much organizational maturity is required to meet the targeted goal. The second is to meet with key stakeholders—from project team members to the organization's executives—in order to assess and validate that maturity. Is it acceptable to have ad hoc processes, or is something more formal required, such as integrating project program portfolio management (PPPM) disciplines with the organization's management systems? Such integration generally results in a more mature organization and approach to PPPM.


Improving organizational maturity from a PPPM standpoint requires a systematic method. Asking stakeholders a core set of three questions can assist with developing a plan:

1 What degree of maturity will both meet project, program and portfolio objectives and also align with the organization's strategies?

2 What resources are needed to achieve the right degree of maturity and provide a reasonable ROI?

3 Are the stakeholders committed to the desired maturity and resource requirements?

Once a desired degree of PPM maturity is determined, the organization should establish a project plan to periodically and objectively evaluate where it stands against its goals.

Numerous approaches and tools, often called maturity assessments, exist to determine maturity. Many tools are focused at the project or program level and may not address portfolios, so the organization may decide to use a project management office to conduct this assessment. It may also use consultants to gather information on the state of its PPPM processes.

Regardless of who conducts the assessment, objectivity is critical. In addition to interviews with the same key players and stakeholders who helped determine the organization's desired maturity, such assessments should include process, documentation and financial reviews. These evaluations should be measured against not only the business objectives, but also key knowledge areas of industry standards such as A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).

Results of the assessment can then be compared with the desired maturity and PPPM objectives to identify any gaps. Plans to address missing or deficient elements, as well as any risks or challenges, should be developed and subsequently reviewed with the stakeholders who are responsible for the organization's PPPM results.

Depending on the size of the organization and the team tasked with making improvements, six to eight activities are generally recommended. Pursue any more than that at one time, and an organization risks spreading resources too thin. Any fewer, and the timeline may move too slowly.

PPPM is an evolving concept, but by applying maturity assessments early, an organization can establish a process to ensure the desired business results. PM


img Deborah (Debi) A. Dell, PMP, is manager of the Project Management Center of Excellence at IBM in Boca Raton, Florida, USA.
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