Benefits of Maturity Assessment

Maturity models provide a roadmap ('the maturity path') of the stages to growth across specified dimensions, for achieving excellence in project management and governance. Progress along the path is assessed in an objective and methodical way, providing management with confidence in how the state of maturity was determined. Rad and Levin (2006: 2) referred to the approach as providing 'proactive internal pressures ... aimed at future improvements in performance, which in turn will result in improved profits'. In this way, maturity models become a framework for continuous organisational improvement and success.

The guidelines and best practices associated with maturity models support change management. They help to implement improvement plans in a transparent manner since they are based on dimensions and scales that have been agreed to within the organisation. Encouragement is provided for discussions among project stakeholders as to how best to progress along the maturity path. Communications and collaboration between them are thereby improved and they are satisfied that the organisation intends to move to a higher level of performance.

When pursuing the strategy of ongoing assessment of the organisation's maturity, the project management mode changes from reactive (reacting to a crisis in a project) to proactive (seeking continuous performance improvement). This is akin to transiting from the fire-fighting mode to a fire prevention mode (Rad and Levin 2006). The change requires measures of expected project performance, based on criteria for which quantitative data can be collected, to indicate whether or not project success has been achieved. A benchmark for the level of sophistication of current practices should be established against which future improvements can be determined.

Benefits of maturity assessment can be observed in the external environment (Rad and Levin 2006). It may satisfy a client, for whom the project is to be carried out, that the provider has achieved a desired level of maturity in order to be awarded the project. Alternatively, the bidding organisation may be able to demonstrate having achieved a maturity level beyond the one prescribed by the client, thereby providing a competitive advantage in the tendering process. This provides an excellent enterprise credential when confronted by competitors. It is important, however, that agreement exists between the provider and the client as to the validity and credibility of the maturity model being used.

While it is tempting for senior management to aim at achieving the highest level of maturity, Vandersluis (2004) warned that it may not always be the case that a higher level is better. He referred to the example whereby the cost of changing the internal culture through providing staff education and training may outweigh the potential benefits of improving the working climate within the organisation. Every organisation should find the level of maturity best suited to its current circumstances.

Checklist: Familiarity of the Organisation with Project Maturity Models

• Is the organisation familiar with current project management maturity models?

• Does the organisation use a project management maturity model?

• To what extent has the model been adapted to the organisation's project characteristics?

• Are the advantages of using a project management maturity model understood?

• Is project management maturity regularly assessed?

• Does the project management maturity model provide a useful roadmap for improvement?

• Is the transition to a higher level of project management maturity carefully considered?

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