Improving organizational project management maturity

A Siemens case study



This paper will discuss the practical application of methods and maturity models in improving organizational project management maturity (OPMM) in multiple organizations within Siemens. From an internal review of research and assessment data, four key success factors were determined as critical to achieving organizational-level maturity: executive support, organizational project management office (PMO), a process management infrastructure, and program management best practices. These findings along with their relevance will be discussed.


Project management is a core competency of all Siemens companies. In 2000, the executive board of Siemens AG launched a corporate initiative to systematically and continuously improve its organizational project management maturity: PM@Siemens Initiative. The mission of the initiative is defined as follows:

image PM@Siemens identifies best practices and, together with all the relevant participants, moderates the derivation of company standards with worldwide validity from these excellent examples.

image PM@Siemens ensures that all Siemens companies handling project business introduce standardized recommended best practices and utilize this knowledge and experience.

Siemens projects include a wide range of products, solutions, and service deliveries. More than 60% of the overall Siemens turnover is based on project business. Each company’s approach to project management must be applicable to the entire project life cycle from project acquisition, engineering, and development through customer delivery, installation, and commissioning projects. The same requirements are true for any maturity model evaluating and analyzing the capabilities of project management organizations.

To ensure consistent measurement of organizational project management process maturity across all businesses, a comprehensive maturity model was needed that addressed the complexities of project management, engineering, and process management. This model also had to withstand the scrutiny of a worldwide customer base. Siemens’ customers expect a structured and transparent project management approach from the delivering business unit for complex solutions, i.e., power plants, complex railway transportation systems, or medical solutions. Furthermore, Siemens itself, as well as Siemens’ customers, expect a continuous performance evaluation and improvement of processes and procedures to reduce potential risks in project delivery and to increase benefits.

Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) is the organization within Siemens that is responsible for measurement and improvement of project management maturity within Siemens companies operating worldwide. To provide worldwide coverage and to establish regional expertise, Siemens CT established three regional offices: Munich, Germany; Princeton, New Jersey (part of Siemens Corporate Research); and Beijing, China.

Siemens Maturity in Project Management (MPM) Model

Siemens CT has been performing process assessments since 1992. As a crucial part of the Siemens-wide project management initiative, a dedicated project management maturity assessment addressing the wide range of Siemens customer projects was introduced in 2002. To date, roughly 150 organizational assessments have been performed worldwide using this protocol.

To capitalize on multi-disciplined best practice benefits and the engineering nature of Siemens projects, a multi- model approach was taken. The Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI®) was chosen as the baseline process maturity model for engineering and process development best practices. CMMI methodology, procedures, and results (e.g., 5 different maturity levels) are accepted throughout almost all industries worldwide. Even though CMMI has project management as one of its core process groups, best practices from A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Fourth Edition (Project Management Institute [PMI], 2008) were included in the Siemens maturity model to ensure more thorough coverage of project management processes and alignment with international standards for the project management discipline. In addition, organizational support infrastructure best practices were derived from lessons learned within Siemens and were included within the PM@Siemens model.

Benefits from various sources

Figure 1: Benefits from various sources

The resulting framework was called the maturity in project management (MPM) assessment protocol and is currently on its third revision. It consists of a detailed questionnaire and a Microsoft® Excel-based spreadsheet application that is used for rating purposes and provides graphical presentations of the maturity level of each analyzed process area. As a pilot, best practices from PMI’s Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3®) were also incorporated into MPM assessments conducted by Siemens Corporate Research.

Process and subprocess areas of MPM assessment protocol

Figure 2: Process and subprocess areas of MPM assessment protocol

One of the ongoing missions of PM@Siemens is to improve organizational project management maturity to support the project business. The Siemens MPM Maturity Model establishes maturity levels similar to those defined by CMMI:

MPM maturity levels with supporting OPM3® Maturity Stages – standardized (S), measured (M), controlled (C), and continuously improved (I)

Figure 3: MPM maturity levels with supporting OPM3® Maturity Stages – standardized (S), measured (M), controlled (C), and continuously improved (I)

Approaches to Improving Organizational Project Management Maturity

Traditionally within Siemens, the first step is an analysis of the project management process performance via an MPM assessment. This is followed by a process improvement workshop based on the assessment results and the organization’s business targets. Regarding improvement there are different approaches:

image Improvement project in one single business unit (e.g., headquarter or regional company),

image Improvement program starting at the headquarter of a business unit with a subsequent roll out into the associated regional companies, and

image A region-wide improvement program (e.g., “the Successfully Defined Program” of Siemens Corporation USA).

Siemens Corporate Technology (and Siemens Corporate Research in the United States) supports the project management improvement activities via performing the MPM Assessments, coaching of the improvement projects, and encouraging the best practice exchange, etc.

Successfully Defined Program

Due to the importance of project management maturity to Siemens, the United States region of Siemens decided to accelerate the improvement effort in 2007. Based on an internal review of assessment results and evaluation of global consulting experiences, the following key success factors were determined to be fundamental characteristics for implementing and sustaining organizational project management maturity:

  • Executive support,
  • Organizational project management office,
  • Process management infrastructure, and
  • Program management best practices.

As a result of this analysis, these core enabling capabilities became the focus of an internal change program led by Siemens Corporation US and supported by Siemens Corporate Research. Named the Successfully Defined Program after the common name for Level 3 Maturity—defined, SCR and Siemens Corporation US began an ongoing awareness and support program to accelerate and embed Siemens MPM maturity improvements.

The Successfully Defined Program provided expert guidance, coaching, training, and assistance to participating organizations in all aspects of organizational project management maturity improvement—primarily addressing the four key success factors.

Executive Support

Historically, organizational programs will not succeed without executive support. Executive commitment and support is imperative since it involves organizational change, leadership vision, and a linkage to business strategy. Effective executive sponsorship is critical in alignment of the program with corporate strategy, definition of expected benefits, empowerment of the program leadership, and commitment of resources. As a condition for participation in the Successfully Defined Program, executive sponsors must be named and the program mandate and vision must be defined. The executive sponsor is responsible for: owning the program vision, building the business case, interfacing with key senior stakeholders, providing the program governance, and maintaining the alignment of the program to the organization’s strategic direction.

Process Management Infrastructure

Since most maturity models contain a strong component of process maturity, the infrastructure to support the definition, maintenance and the follow-on measurement and improvement of processes must be in place. The establishment of a process management infrastructure was identified as a key enabler for organizational maturity improvement and maintenance. Paraphrasing OPM3®, characteristics of a standardized process at Siemens are:

  • A process-oriented governing body is established that meets on a regular basis to discuss process management issues and suggestions for improvements.
  • The process is documented, approved, and updated regularly.
  • The process is communicated to all necessary stakeholders, and training is in place.
  • The process has been implemented consistently across the organization.

Process definition and maintenance is a key requirement for Siemens MPM maturity—there are several requirements that define process infrastructure components that address, in detail, the first two items and part of the third. Consistent implementation is measured by practice verification throughout the organization.

Program Management

Organizational project management improvement initiatives are business change programs. They are characterized by creating and standardizing processes, delivering new capabilities, transforming the business, and embedding change with the goal of achieving business benefits. Linkage to business benefits engages executive interest since the program and the business share common objectives. Benefits measurement and achievements are important in embedding and supporting business change, validating process effectiveness, and determining the value of existing processes and capabilities as well as the creation of new ones. The ongoing nature of the delivery of new or emerging capabilities and continuous improvement further support the need for program management.

As a standard methodology, the United Kingdom Office of Government Commerce (OGC) Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) Standard was selected as a basis for training, certification, and implementation. MSP was selected because:

  • MSP provides a best practice methodology that addresses the relationship between business change, benefits management, and program governance.
  • Business change managers are formally defined and are responsible for defining capability requirements, transition planning, embedding change, and achieving the program benefits.
  • Maturity – MSP was launched by the U.K. OGC in 1999, and the standard is in its third revision (2007).
  • A training and certification network is in place via the accredited training organizations that enable practitioners.

The Standard for Program Management (PMI, 2008) was also considered and supports most processes within MSP. Initial review of this publication indicates that it will align well with the needs of Siemens, and, along with OPM3® (PMI, 2003), PMBOK® Guide - Fourth Edition (PMI, 2008), and The Standard for Portfolio Management, (PMI, 2008) is expected to be integrated into the Siemens model.

Project Management Office

The functions of the project management office (PMO) are essential to enable and sustain a high level of organizational project management maturity. Organizations below Level 3 (Defined) maturity in the MPM model often are deficient in the definition and management of project management processes. In our findings both within and external to Siemens, the improvement and analysis of project process effectiveness often depended heavily on the experience and competency of the project managers. Further, the time available for a project manager to manage the processes, tools, as well as manage the project is typically non-existent. As a result, the capability of the organization to conduct analysis at the business level and to improve is restricted. Without the senior expertise and organizational view of a PMO function, conditions supporting process improvements outside of the individual projects and across the business are not optimal. As Hobbs (2007) noted, the names of the organization performing the PMO functions are varied. Organizations use terms such as “Center of Excellence” or “Business Optimization Team.” The essential functions do not have to reside in a single organization and can be distributed among various groups (e.g., quality, training, PMO, etc.). The minimum functions that Siemens requires for Level 3 maturity are project management methodology, project tools, standards and metrics, process governance and maintenance, resource management, training and education, project planning, project auditing, and project reporting.

Program Management and the Project Management Office

The creation of PMOs is critical to the success of the Siemens initiative to improve organizational project management maturity, but there was a significant concern about their longevity and acceptance by the various business units. The very fact that an organization establishes a PMO initiates change in the business, and since it’s usually not the only improvement initiative underway, it is often done in a turbulent environment with many factors tinkering with its existence. As revealed by Hobbs (2007), PMOs undergo reorganization as often as it takes to fully implement them. Further, their relevance to the business is perceived as equally good as it is bad. Why is there such a high mortality rate for PMOs? Several key principles of program management help avoid these potential shortfalls: leading/managing organizational change, focusing on benefits, defining the future state that achieves those benefits, and an evolving delivery of capabilities through a dossier of improvement projects.

Programs, by definition, exist to deliver benefits to the organization. The ability to continuously deliver business benefits is directly related to the perception of PMO relevance to the organization. Since programs exist in a changing environment, best practices such as an agreed blueprint of the current and future states, a program vision that’s linked to business strategy, as well as defined benefit profiles are extremely valuable tools in managing through a market shift or a reorganization by keeping the business focused on the planned objectives.

Preventing the “Ivory Tower” Syndrome

To address the systematic issues identified by Hobbs (2007) and internal concerns regarding value and overhead, Siemens recommended formally chartering its PMOs with a specific guidance by which the PMO will be reviewed for relevance at a prescribed interval that is aligned with the program’s expected delivery of benefits. The concept of this provision has been well received by upper management who are chartering the PMO. It gives them a better sense of control and ensures that they are not creating a new “empire” that will not add value. This increases the likelihood that the PMO will be created and chartered and provides a sense of urgency and focus to the PMO to deliver benefits that are measurable and important to the sponsoring group. This provision, while innovative, is no more important than the other minimum recommended chartering items, which are all essential for success. Components of a recommended charter for a new PMO are detailed below:

image Benefits to be realized from a PMO—identify measurable benefits;

image Business need for a PMO;

image Target areas to be initially addressed (e.g., within the next 18 months);

image Timeline to achieve benefits;

image PMO review agreements, for example. In the initial stages, a progress review every six months, with a relevance review and revision of the charter at 18–24 months tied to benefits realization, business case (i.e., benefits versus cost and dis-benefits), and the needs of the business should be conducted. The concept is to review and update the charter prior to the next stage or level of expected capabilities and benefits delivery for the organization;

image Funding and resource allocation;

image Authority of the PMO;

image Executive sponsor of the PMO;

image Organizational structure and alignment of the PMO, including roles and responsibilities; and

image Reporting requirement of the PMO to the sponsor or sponsoring group.

The PMO must evolve with the organization to remain relevant and to provide continuous benefits to the sponsoring organization. As long as the PMO adds value, it will continue to operate. This helps avoid PMOs being perceived as “process police” or expensive overhead. Once a Level 3 defined or OPM3® standardized maturity stage is achieved, other disciplines that specialize on process measurement and improvement, such as Lean Six Sigma, could be brought into the PMO function to establish improvement projects with a defined business case and return on investment. This ongoing evolution of PMO capabilities, benefits delivery, and business case review is intended to validate the PMOs existence and refresh its value to the organization. Additionally, another goal of the PMO should be to achieve standardized processes yet reduce the process burden on the project management organization as well as optimization of process effectiveness across the enterprise. This is a direct benefit of the capabilities defined in later maturity stages (e.g., OPM3 measured, controlled, and continuously improved).

Conclusions and Results

Business improvement initiatives have been handled by many organizations strictly as improvement projects. For projects to be successful, they need a clear and defined scope. Yet, the organizational and market landscapes are ever changing and the path forward is not always clear at the onset. Organizations today are cautious when institutionalizing organizations like a PMO that may be perceived as becoming an overhead burden shortly after the process definition phases of a business excellence program are completed; yet their work is clearly necessary if any organization intends to achieve greater project management maturity. Program management espouses the deliberate and disciplined focus, not only on capability delivery through projects, but also on benefits realization through embedding those capabilities, managing the transition, and managing organizational change. Integrating program management and maturity models such as the Siemens MPM model, CMMI, or OPM3 with other process management and improvement methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma, potentially provides a continuous value stream that must be established to ensure successful achievement through the upper stages of process maturity and effect organizational change.

Siemens has seen very good outcomes in a number of its business units as a result of this methodology. Participating organizations range from $10 million to $4 billion in annual revenues and include a very diverse group of business sectors including health care, energy, and industry. Those organizations that are following the PM@ Siemens initiative as well as the guidance and coaching of CT and SCR are experiencing excellent results in increasing the project management maturity, and in correlation to this, increasing the profit of the project business (usually in direct proportion to their level of effort). One final recommendation, not detailed previously, is to use experienced organizational experts to help guide the business changes including organizational maturity improvements, PMO development, and program management implementation.

About the Authors

Joe Sopko is a senior consultant at Siemens Corporate Research in Princeton, N.J., and has over 20 years experience in project and program management practice and infrastructure development with direct industry experience in commercial construction, aerospace, shipbuilding, and telecommunications/high technology new product development in defense, research, and commercial environments. Mr. Sopko has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from Penn State University and is a graduate of the U.S. Defense System Management College, Program Manager Course. He is also certified by PMI as a PMP, as an OPM3 Consultant, and is certified as an Advanced Practitioner in U.K. Office of Government Commerce (OGC) Managing Successful Programs.

Siegfried Husemeier is a program manager at Siemens Corporate Technology in Munich, Germany, and has more than 20 years operational experience in project and program management in the solution business of several Siemens business units in the areas of materials handling, airport logistics systems, and postal automation systems. For the last three years, Mr. Siegfried worked with Siemens Corporate Technology as program manager responsible for consulting projects in the project management area. He has a diploma in Mechanical Engineering from the Technical University of Brunswick, Germany, and is certified by PMI as a PMP.

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Strausser, G., & Sopko, J. (2007). PM @ Siemens USA White Paper, Project Management Maturity: Siemens Corporation, New York City, NY.

Strausser, G., & Sopko, J. (2007). Guide to Project Management Maturity: Siemens Corporation, New York City, NY.

“PMI and PMBOK are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.”

“OPM3 is a registered trademark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.”

CMM and Capability Maturity Model, are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

CMMI is a service mark of Carnegie Mellon University

Managing Successful Programmes and MSP™ are registered trademarks of the U.K. Office of Government Commerce

© 2009, Joseph Sopko & Siegfried Husemeier
Originally published as a part of 2009 PMI EMEA Congress Proceedings – Amsterdam, Netherlands