Best Practices

Project Management Maturity Model & What It Means For Your Business

Jonathan Friedman
December 19, 2021
Project Management Maturity Model & What It Means For Your Business

Curious about the Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM)?

Are you unsure how to measure your project management success? Are you looking for ways to improve your project management process?

If you answered "yes" to either of these questions, you've come to the right place.

We're going to discuss the Project Management Maturity Model. This is a tool that every project-based company needs to use. Whether you want to look at where you lie against other companies or improve your practices, the PMMM is just the tool to use.

To learn more about the Project Management Maturity Model and how you can use it for your business, keep reading. 

Below is everything we will cover. Feel free to skip ahead.

What is the Project Management Maturity Model?

The Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM) is a concept that helps project-based organizations improve their business practices. Within the model, there are five levels of project management maturity.

These levels can help your business assess how successful its practices are currently. At the same time, it can help you improve upon poor practices.

If you fall lower on the PMMM, you're likely incurring increased costs and lower-quality results. These can be detrimental to a business and even cause overall financial loss.

To improve your project management skills and move up the model, you need to understand what the levels are and where you currently stand.

Understanding PMMM history

The Project Management Maturity Model started as a framework. The Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon developed the concept in the mid-1980s.

Initially, the purpose of the framework was to help the government assess software contractors. This would help them decide which contractor would be the best choice to complete complex projects.

The model originally analyzed standard practices for each contractor. This would give the government an idea of the abilities of each contractor.

Over time, the concept became bigger. Professionals applied the structure to multiple industries.

In turn, they developed multiple models. However, the model that better aligns with the original model is the Project Management Maturity Model. The main difference is that the PMMM focuses on project management as opposed to software industries.

The five levels of the Project Management Maturity Model

There are five levels in the Project Management Maturity Model:

As we walk through each level in the PMMM, you should consider which level your company may currently be at.

Be honest as you're assessing your current stance in project management. If you can pinpoint where you currently stand, you'll better be able to help your company advance to higher levels.

Level One: The Initial Process

Given that this is the lowest level, this is the most deficient standard of performance. If you fall here, your organization likely operates randomly. In fact, you may not be using any control tools.

The biggest drawback of this level is that these companies can't perform project forecasting. There is no process for how the company will behave in the case of a crisis. Therefore, no employee can predict how the company will respond.

If there is no standard procedure, there's no guessing.

Level Two: Structured Process and Standards

Companies that fall under this level of project management maturity may have some basic project management practices. However, these practices will probably only fall at an individual project level. This means that the company does not have a broad approach to its projects.

At the same time, these approaches may largely depend on individuals within an organization. This leads to overdependence on individual employees.

Some structure is better than no structure. But, this basic level of structure is not going to be enough when it comes to emergencies.

Like with the first level, these companies will have trouble when trying to predict success in the future. They have a slightly more significant degree of certainty than companies at level one. But, it's not enough to guarantee anything.

Level Three: Organizational Standards and Institutionalized Process

Level three brings us to a different organizational structure. Here, companies have well-defined procedures. These procedures have become the standard operations in the appropriate situations.

Overall, businesses at this level are well-organized. Even management is involved with implementing and supporting the use of these procedures and standards.

With this level of organization, companies are finally ready to face crises. The business can use its well-documented procedures to react to any issues that come up.

Organizations at level three of the PMMM have also developed documentation that details employee relationships. More specifically, they have defined the relationships between management and employees. Likewise, they've detailed the relationships between the organization and its customers.

Level Four: Managed Process

Businesses in level four of the Project Management Maturity Model concept have started using metrics. These can help organizations assess their current level of productivity.

In turn, team members can review current analytics and decide whether or not to make changes.

With these analytics, management can also review whether the project is on the road to success. If not, they can make adjustments as needed.

Bringing metrics into the project management process makes the end result more predictable for the organization. Plus, it allows the organization to make changes more confidently.

Level Five: Optimizing Process

Finally, level five brings optimization to the business processes that a business is implementing. An organization at level five has all of the correct procedures in place at the organizational level.

Now, they've begun the process to improve their performance continuously. Management does this by looking at past experiences. More specifically, they review any issues that the company has encountered in the past.

Level five also includes innovation. Organizations at this level are looking to produce and use innovative techniques. These are processes that other businesses aren't using.

When done correctly, innovative processes can give the utilizing organization edge over its competitors.

How to progress along the PMMM

To advance along the project manager's PMMM, you need to understand how each level ties into the next. The farther you progress, the more complex and sophisticated the organization's behaviors are.

We should note that the PMMM is not a rigid scale. There isn't a list of specific criteria that you need to meet for each level.

Instead, it's about creating an environment that encourages project management success.

Naturally, there are going to be differences between companies that fall on the same level. Two businesses can be on the same level as the Project Management Maturity Model. Yet, they can have different approaches.

However, it's about more than comparing yourself to the competition. You want your company to do better regardless of where everyone else lies.

So, if you want to move up on the model, let's talk about how to do so.

Levels One and Two

Companies without well-designed procedures are going to lie somewhere within the first two levels. In other words, your company lies within the first two levels if your employees and managers don't understand how to deal with various situations.

If your company falls within the first two levels, rules and standards should be your priority. By taking the time to develop and implement these practices, you're already setting your company up for success.

It doesn't matter what standards you start with. You might want to work on onboarding first. Maybe you'll start with product documentation.

It doesn't matter because every step is essential. Every process is important. Therefore, you can start with whichever process you feel is most important to your company right now.

As you start developing these procedures, you should focus on the processes that will help with productivity right now. Think about where your current procedures fail the most.

Level Three

Companies that fall under level three are advanced when it comes to project management efficiency. However, there is room for improvement, seeing as there are two levels after this one.

For example, you may want to improve communication across your team. By implementing a cross-functional collaboration platform, you could see great strides in communication.

You may also consider other kinds of helpful platforms to advance your current project management processes.

Levels Four and Five

Once you find the perfect technologies and everything is organized, your business likely falls in level four or level five. You've already got effective procedures. Now, it's time to work on the details.

For example, you may want to start looking into risk management. Developing an excellent risk management procedure can help your company tackle future potential problems better than it has before.

Taking your project management to the next level

No matter where you fall within the Project Management Maturity Model, you can always improve your procedures. Whether you need better organization or wider communication, our online project management software has you covered.

TrueNxus is a project manager's friend. You can plan, execute, monitor, and control all of your projects in one place. Plus, you can break up tasks, assign steps, and communicate across teams as you need.

No matter what your goals are, we can help you get there. To level up your company, try TrueNxus for free today.