Project Management Maturity Model and What It Means for Your Business

The PMMM or the Project Management Maturity Model is a concept that lets Project-Based Organizations assess their project management success. According to the ideology proposed by this model, there are five levels of project management maturity that each business must go through on their path to success.

Furthermore, studies have shown that businesses with poor Project Management performance are more likely to register financial loss due to increased costs per project and low-quality outputs.

As such, if you’re looking at ways to improve your business process, it may be helpful to assess your current level in the PMMM and find ways to move on to the following stage. In today’s article, we’ll discuss these five levels and offer easy to understand suggestions on how to move up the PMMM ladder of project management success.

The Five Levels of PMMM

The PMMM started as a framework developed by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in the mid-1980s. Its purpose was to help the government assess software contractors in order to decide which would be best to deliver complex projects. The model was designed to analyze the standard practices maintained by a company while working on software projects.

In time, the framework was adjusted to fit a broader range of industries, which is why there are several maturity models available today. However, the PMMM is the only one that closely aligns with the original model, with the exception that it focuses on the assessment of project management capabilities using the five different stages mentioned below.

Level 1: The Initial Process

At this level, the organization operates quite randomly, with low implementation of control tools (if any). In this scenario, it’s difficult to predict any future success, since you can’t tell how the organization will behave in a crisis.

Level 2: Structured Process and Standards

Companies at level two implement basic project management practices, but only on an individual project level. This means there is no broad approach regarding PM success, which is likely to depend on key individuals in the organization.

While it’s best to have some structure, this level is still low when it comes to facing an emergency situation and it’s equally difficult to predict success with any degree of certainty.

Level 3: Organizational Standards and Institutionalized Process

With this level, we are stepping into a different organizational structure, with well-defined procedures that are seen as the standard way of doing things. The business is well-organized, and the management is involved in implementing and supporting the use of these procedures.

At this level, the organization is prepared to face a crisis as it has the necessary documented procedures that will guide both management and employees towards the steps to take. Furthermore, an organization at level three is interested in creating documentation that helps define the relationship between management and employees (and vice versa) and between the organization and customers.

Let’s say you own a consulting business. In this case, you can use a well-drafted consulting agreement to clearly define your relationship with each customer. You should also consider drafting NDAs and other types of documents that help in the relationship with employees.  

Level 4: Managed Process

Level 4 introduces metrics that are used to assess the current level of productivity based on the project management procedures and standards that are in effect. This way, the management can know, at any time, if a project is destined for success or if there are problems that need to be addressed.

Level 5: Optimizing Process

Finally, at the top level, the focus is set on optimization. With all the right procedures in place and available at an organizational level, the management is interested in continuously improving project management performance based on their specific experience. Level five also speaks about an opening towards innovative techniques not used by other organizations that could bring a competitive edge.

How to Move from One Level to Another

As you can see, the PMMM is based on the use of increasingly sophisticated organizational behaviors. However, it’s important to know that this is not a rigid scale, but rather a list of guidelines that can help organizations in their quest for performance.

As such, there will be differences from one business to another, depending on their main industry, organizational culture, and overall desire to strive. Furthermore, the size of the organization may have a say in the way PM is integrated.

For instance, a startup doesn’t need a complex structure of procedures, as their focus is on growth and development. However, as the business starts to grow, it helps to create a core of standards that will become the driving force for project management success.

Now that you know the five levels proposed by the Project Management Maturity Model, it should be easy to identify your business’s current situation. Let’s have a look at the steps to consider for each situation.

The First Two Levels

If you don’t have well-designed procedures that let both employees and managers understand the proper way to deal with a situation (regardless of emergency degree), then you are probably at the first two levels.

In this case, your main priority should be on creating the rules and standards that will be at the base of your organizational culture. This can be anything from ‘how to integrate a new employee’ to the best way to create documentation for a new product.

Everything that is important for improving the business process and eliminating hiccups in productivity should be documented and readily available for study and edits.

The Third Level

A business at this level is quite advanced in terms of project management efficiency, but there’s always room for improvement.

For instance, to speed up the communication process and make sure no one is missing crucial details, you may want to use specialized PM tools such as ClickUp. This a platform that lets you manage a wide range of teams and projects in one go without wasting too much time on logistics.

Furthermore, these types of platforms can be integrated with other business processes, creating a connection between departments and improving the flow of information

The Fourth & Fifth Levels

Once you have a good organizational culture in place, with well-designed procedures and an effective hierarchy, it’s time to work on the factors that can make things even better. For this, most businesses, start by using a Business Intelligence platform that fits their needs and build on the analysis it provides.

While BI is not exactly an innovative technology, it is a wonderful way to assess risk management and understand if your business is headed in the right direction.  

Wrap Up

In today’s day and age, there is a strong correlation between technology and business development. This becomes even more visible when it comes to project management improvement, where managers have access to a wide area of tools and platforms that can automate routine activities, provide valuable insight based on existing data, and improve overall team communication and get project stakeholder buy-in.

However, technology must be supported by well-designed business processes and procedures, in order to make sure your organization is headed on an upward path. In conclusion, PMMM shows the importance of both human and technological factors when it comes to business development.


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