8.4 Maturity models

8.4 Maturity models

A maturity model describes a minimum set of practices an organization must carry out in order to achieve a consistent level of performance. Central to the idea of a maturity model is the notion that to be effective, it is not sufficient to be good at one or two things, but rather, all the practices required to perform must be in place. As an example, an organization that does not plan its projects is unlikely to have a predictable performance across projects, but producing excellent plans does not accomplish much, if once the project is planned, the plan is not kept up to date or is not used to control and track work.

In practical terms, maturity models offer good advice as to which practices must be implemented together and the order in which they should be deployed. Maturity models also make good checklists to evaluate potential subcontractors. The problem with maturity models arises when they are transformed into dogma and become an end in themselves rather than a means of achieving some business goal.

Probably the best-known maturity model is the capability maturity model (CMM) devised by the Software Engineering Institute [12], but this is not the only one. Today we can find maturity models for new-product development, human resource administration, system engineering, and security. The Project Management Institute is even building one of its own [13].

The maturity model shown in Table 8.1 reflects the experience gained at Ericsson in the assessment and deployment of POs across the organization.

Table 8.1: PO Maturity Model



Mental Models

Power Structure

Process, Methods


Staff and


Maturity Level

Good results are the ultimate goal.

How does the organization operate? What does it value?

What are the individual attitudes and beliefs?

Who makes decisions within the organization?

Describes process in place and typical tools used.

Describes what type of plans exist and how they are produced.

Describes the existence of training plans and practices for the recruitment and advancement of project management personnel.

Describes the degree of integration between the PO and the rest of the organization.


Four out of five projects finish on-time and within budget.
Productivity is in the 75% quartile.

The organization routinely uses the master plan, the resource plan, and other forecasts produced by the PO in its own planning and decision-making processes.
The business value of the PO is recognized throughout the organization.
Learning permeates all levels of the organization. Double-loop learning enables deeper inquiry and changes norms and assumptions. Personal mastery and team learning are encouraged.

A system-thinking approach prevails across the organization. The "unintended" consequences of any decisions are analyzed before the decision is taken.

The PO manager enjoys a level of prestige and organizational clout similar to that of other senior managers in the organization.

Continuous improvement and defect prevention process in place. Models are routinely used to provide early warnings and to evaluate alternative courses of action. Integrated pipeline management tool provides accurate, up-to-date information linking resource owners, project managers, senior managers, and external partners.

Plans are evaluated using quantitative scenarios.
Risks and contingencies are managed at the portfolio level.
Plans are linked to their business context. Technology planning is linked to the product development plans.

Mentors are made available for guidance and support of new project managers. Knowledge sharing with other organizations is practiced. Self-actualization forms part of the project manager's responsibility.


Three out of four projects finish on-time and within budget.
Productivity is in the 50% quartile.

The portfolio steering committee meets regularly.
The PO routinely exercises its authority in the prioritization and control of projects.

Explicit. The assumptions behind the decisions are brought into the open and discussed. First-order models such as "people work best under pressure" or "put more people to work to recover from the delay" are no longer automatically applied.

The regained visibility results in a transfer of power from project and function managers to senior management.
The PO is empowered to make decisions within the priorities set by senior management.
Decisions that could affect other projects need to be approved by the PO manager.

Process for measurement, audits, and reviews exist.
A project balanced scorecard is established by considering the scope, progress, cost, quality, time, and the human perspective of the project.
Earned value and technical performance monitoring are fully used and understood as steering model. Integrated project, portfolio, and resource planning tools are in place.

Probabilistic analysis encourages stakeholders to take calculated risks.
The status of the portfolio is known at all times.

Development paths to move from one position to another exist.
Training in the critical skills required to perform the work is mandatory.

Interfaces between the PO, senior management, and resource managers are defined.


Two out of four projects finish on-time and within budget.
Productivity is in the 50% quartile.

Common process for resource planning, project prioritization, and project reporting exists. There is a central function responsible for coordination, but often it is bypassed in the decision-making process.

Process for estimating, project planning, resource planning, and time reporting are in place.
A staged project model and standardized progress reporting provide the minimum information required to steer the project.
Action items and risk issues are tracked.
A central database, probably home grown, contains the organization's master and resource plans.

Master and resource plans are updated on a regular basis.
Workload is kept consistent with capacity.

Job descriptions, including minimum qualifications for each position, exists.
Experience in previous positions is considered, but is not the only criteria for selection.
Project managers are acquainted with the nine knowledge areas identified in the PMBOK.

The interface between the PO and the projects is defined.


A champion exists that voices his/her concern about the current state of affairs. Management acknowledges that something needs to be done.

Tacit. However, people start to realize that the "real world" is of their own making.

Ad hoc progress reporting. Single project management tools.
Resource plans are prepared using simple spreadsheets. Multiple, usually inconsistent, versions of the same data exist.

List of projects with a start and end date.

Organizations at this level have difficulty retaining talented individuals.
Constant churn in the workforce diminishes its capability.

None formalized

Ad hoc

Some projects turn out right; others do not.

Hero or cowboy culture. The need to coordinate across multiple projects and establish common procedures is not yet recognized.

Tacit. When a problem arises, people justify themselves using phrases such as, "Given the situation we were in, there was nothing else we could have done". They fail to recognize their responsibility in creating the situation that comes back to haunt them.

Power resides with the project managers and the resource owners.
Senior management's involvement is reactive and mostly reduced to reward, punish, or terminate the project.

Burnouts are not uncommon.

Running the Successful Hi-Tech Project Office
Running the Successful Hi-Tech Project Office (Artech House Technology Management Library)
ISBN: 1580533736
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 81
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