Over the past century, businesses have morphed into complex entities with numerous dynamics, yet with the sole objective of striving for success and accompanying cumulative gains. It is for this very reason that firms have been known to set clear goals and objectives meant to guide a company’s trajectory as it contends with a myriad of challenges and opportunities bound to be faced in the near future. Achieving set goals and objectives is a taxing mission which requires the participation of all parties involved to charter a clear organizational course. Project management has, therefore, emerged as a feasible approach for company’s seeking to attain set aims. While there are suitable options for firms seeking to make headway in a competitive environment, managers are increasingly facing immense pressure when confronted with multiple projects requiring high levels of expertise and attention (Buys, A., & Stander, 2010).
This reality has now prompted the application of nascent tools such as the project management maturity model (PMMM) to clearly define apposite projects, their commencement, and evaluation of the progress made. For instance, the New York Times Company (NYTCo) currently represents the epitome of PMMM use for Information Technology (IT) organization and timely delivery of projects. I had the rare opportunity of witnessing this first-hand as an intern working for the company and the primary reason why it is a significant segment of my professional experience. This paper will, thus, evaluate the Project Management Maturity Model, its role in increasing productivity, the importance of organizational strategy, project communication and the use of project quality. Real-life examples of successful and troubled projects will also be provided, earned value analysis and how the likelihood of success can be found within an organization reaching maturity in terms of project management.
Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM)
The Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM) a new-age notion which when applied allows a firm to evaluate its success in project management. Project-Based Organizations applying this model are bound by the two dimensional framework from which it operates after the commencement of a project. Using industry-accepted principles, project management maturity model reflects the extent of maturity and areas addressed during the entire process. According to Gershon (2013), businesses which fail to underscore the importance of Project Management performance typically lose revenue as a consequence of heightened costs per project and inferior output (p.12). Thorough evaluation of a company’s PMMM is, therefore, fundamental in improving business processes and increasing the chances of success. In the mid-1980s, researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University from its prestigious Software Engineering Institute created the framework to evaluate software service provider before determining whether they were capable of delivering highly complex projects. It soon became apparent that the model could also be applied in a wide array of sectors to review of the capabilities of project management. PMMM is hailed for providing a clear sense of direction and structure to firms, in addition to serving as an important determinant of project management success. Companies implementing PMMM often seek to improve the awareness of employees within regarding the importance of consistency in project management.
Five Levels of PMMM
PMMM comprises of five levels signifying specific stages of project management within an organization. Each level represents specific areas which must be explored if the company is to develop a robust organizational culture warranting the successful.
- Level 1: The Initial Process. This level is characterized witharbitrary company operations and insufficient execution of control tools. The significance of project management is also recognized here and terminology associated with it for the purpose of accuracy. NYTCo was cognizant of this reality and the primary reason why a Project Management Office (PMO) was created to disseminate key details in relation to project management.
- Level 2: Common Processes. This level identifies shared processes which may recur in company projects. It identifies planning and risk management as major areas of focus which should always be considered before commencing with the project. The common process also creates a unique opportunity for managers to review available processes before identifying one suited for a project.
- Level 3: Singular Method. The third level involves the amalgamation of all available approaches into a single process. This then allows managers to exercise control over the processes devoid of any emerging challenges. It is also in this particular level that quality assurance and training. At NYTCo, the decision to implement a single process in Information Technology (IT) organization was influenced by the importance of streamlining the processes which ultimately allowed teams to liaise continually.
- Level 4: Benchmarking. This level involves an in-depth review of the company’s position and possible competitors within a company’s scope. Benchmarking is imperative and should be conducted frequently by organizations. This is solely due to the fact that it provides an accurate breakdown of capacity management and management metrics which determine a firm’s success.
- Level 5: Continuous Improvement: The fifth level involves reviewing data gathered after benchmarking and determining whether it is capable of improving a company’s processes. It focuses on the management of innovation and the proactive management of problems. Optimization becomes a major focus to improve project management performance to introduce a competitive edge.
It is noteworthy to acknowledge that companies can improve productivity using PMMM. The model plays a significant role in allowing managers to gain a comprehensive understanding of company dynamics and the best time to invest in programs. This allows firms to surmount organizational roadblocks while addressing individual development needs of company staff. Furthermore, identifying qualified individuals to occupy key positions result in adherence to meritocracy and proper sequencing of performance activities. The identification of strengths and weaknesses also allows managers to position project members in a suitable location to optimize performance (Goswami, 2015). It creates a clear sense of direction for organizations; guiding them to the best return on investment. PMMM also creates self-motivated employees who make use of available resources for the greater good of the organization. It also removes ambiguity which allows employees to tackle clearly defined milestones and goals. Planning, reporting, and monitoring by senior managers further guarantees improved productivity through proper management practices.
Organizational Strategy and Project Management
The importance of organizational strategy in today’s fast-paced world and project management’s need’s association with objectives has become a significant area of focus within scholarly discourse. A company’s organizational strategy refers to all intended plans to be implemented with the ultimate objective being the long-term goals. An organizational strategy also identifies business and functional objectives which can be easily attained by middle managers and functional managers. Within a project management context, organizational strategy is often synonymous with strategic planning and the development of a customary procedure for project management. Project management maturity model is currently widely regarded as an important tool in project management through its propensity to improve overall productivity no matter the size of the enterprise. The modus operandi applied within a company can change at any given to enable companies to enjoy overall success. However, most organizations fail to develop an appropriate strategy to suit an organization’s needs and one which is implemented successful.
A considerable rift currently exists between the creation of a suitable strategy and successful execution. The situation is even worse within major companies especially since employees are under immense pressure produce results and realize success. Using the top-down approach, senior executives and managers hand down numerous demands for lower and upper management (Project Management Institute, 2013). These teams ultimately cooperate and work jointly in the decision-making process to guarantee wise choices which would result in the development of practical strategic plans to influence the company’s success. Similarly, organizational strategies aid firms in managing multiple projects as is often the case. Employees approach this complexity using a strict code which ensures firms are well-ordered in their approach and adaptable as important attributes key to realizing strategic objectives. Such was the case at NYTCo where all members of staff were expected to play a central role in ensuring the PMMM achieved its objectives through strategic management. This improvement initiative sought to compare the company with set organizational maturity standards to gauge its current standing. The presence of an organizational strategy also allowed the company to acknowledge the urgent need for mechanism to aid in gaining a deeper understanding of how to improve maturity in the long run. This was particularly important in the development of a project management culture, making fellow employees more receptive to change and executive support.
Project management also plays a central role in allowing employees to develop comprehensive strategic plans. This goes a long way in fostering organizational success through an increase in productivity and net revenue. Upper management commonly regards project management as the most important segments of an organization since it guides future endeavors and captures future clientele. In this particular case, a strategic plan would be ideal since it would allow the company access additional clients with a higher standards and bargaining prices.
Project Communication Methods
Communication is arguably one of the most important aspects influencing organizational success. Companies with superior communication strategies disproportionately thrive in their respective fields and soar above contemporaries, therefore, experiencing higher rates of triumph. Project managers play a significant role in coordinating some of the most important activities and programs within a company. It is for this very reason that effective communication skills have been identified as the most important abilities that any project manager can possess. An open line of communication creates a steady flow of information ensuring participants are updated sufficiently on company activities. Communicating with employees on a regular basis also strengthens bonds and creates a scenario where leaders are aware of employee’s needs and quite capable of addressing concerns raised during the start of a project. Continuous interaction with a team, therefore, plays a significant role in ensuring that members are cognizant of their responsibilities and stakeholders who they should communicate with.
Stakeholders also represent a significant element within a company. In particular, they serve an important role in project management since their decisions are capable of altering the course and direction of any given project. They also decide whether a project should continue or be halted based upon feedback obtained after inception. High levels of communication between employees and stakeholders require clear definition of the following areas;
- Defining stakeholders.
- The type of information relayed.
- Layout and format of communication.
- Frequency of communication.
- How to address escalations.
- How to gather information from stakeholders.
It is only through strict adherence to the areas above that communication can be conducted effectively. These areas can, therefore, be used to determine who the stakeholders are and the most appropriate style of communication.
NYTCo displayed a high regard for stakeholders in relation to communicating with them correctly to guarantee success in project management. During the application of project management maturity model, the project manager was tasked with creating a clear channel of communication with stakeholders to update them on the progress made and long-term goal. Furthermore, several areas required the approval of senior management before commencing with the project. The project manager too up this role and ensured each party bore a clear understanding of the steps required which was vital in making certain the project was completed conclusively. Regular meetings also became a staple within the company as an avenue where progress could be discussed and concerns addressed. Stakeholders were accorded a unique opportunity to propose changes they wanted to see effected to improve chances of success and applicability of the current framework. It was through the project manager’s exemplary communication skills that the project thrived and realized set objectives.
Effective communication requires project managers to hone particular skills in order to succeed in efforts to relay important information to employees and stakeholders alike. They should display superior communication skills as well as being able to listen to the concerns of all involved. Active listeners have a higher chance of being confronted by receptive stakeholders since it can determine whether the information has been understood as intended. Gaining a deeper understanding of all available dimensions of communication, therefore, plays an important role in determining the long-term success of an organization through project management.
The quality of a project is an important aspect which should always be put into consideration by project managers. Factors impacting project quality may either be internal or external and applied within the overall organizational framework. Addressing both internal and external factors is crucial for success since major areas of concerns will have been met for the organization to thrive. Mitigating risks and effective planning are some of the main metrics used to determine the efficacy of the style applied and an important factor to consider when investigating project quality. It creates a sense of adequacy in a project since it is completed appropriately with all areas of concern having been addressed. A quality management system (QSM) is typically implemented to breakdown a project to employees and their responsibilities in the task at hand.
Earned value analysis (EVA)
Attaining organizational success is highly dependent on the presence of controls within a project, in addition to regular monitoring to assess progress. This has prompted project managers to seek suitable frameworks which would enable them conduct their duties effectively while guaranteeing progress. The work breakdowns structure (WBS) and critical path methods (CPM) have often been used as essential tools in aiding project managers confronted by this monumental task. Recently, the earned value analysis (EVA) tool has been preferred over CPM and WBS during the developmental phases of project. EVA has been hailed as a welcome addition since it allows project managers to track the progress made to determine success.
The earned value analysis (EVA) tool focuses on four parameters as they relate to project management. It first half addresses cost and schedule as major segments of variance analysis. They track improvement through a real time forecast of the project and its direction at any given time. It, therefore, functions as a useful tool to project managers for a clearly addresses the sense of direction required while painting an elaborate picture of possible complications which may be encountered and how to address them. The second half of the remaining parameters amalgamate schedule and cost variance. EVA is determined using the following elements.
- Planned Value (PV) – Planned amount during the current reporting period.
- Actual Cost (AC) – A project’s real cost.
- Earned Value (EV) – Total planned amount multiplied by the percentage of the project completed.
Thus, cost variance (CV=EV-AC) and schedule variance (SV=EV-PV) play a significant role in project management since they help in determining whether a scheduled project is on track and within its budget (Reichel, 2018). Obtaining 0 using the aforementioned formulas is a good sign since it indicates the project is on time and within the projected budget. A negative value is indicative of a project which is lagging behind while a positive value reveals that a project is ahead of the projected schedule and below its budget.
EVA is a useful tool which can be used to evaluate a project’s performance and how to address any of the concerns raised by stakeholders. It allows project managers to gain an in-depth understanding of the entire scheduling process after commencing with a monumental project. The planned and earned value are determined and completed to determine the efficacy of initial plans made when establishing the project. The SPI value determines whether work has been completed as scheduled. Similarly, the cost performance index (CPI) assesses the budget in relation to whether it is within the projected constraints
Examples of successful and troubled projects
Prior to implementing PMMM though its project management office (PMO), NYTCo had experienced a streak of unsuccessful projects based on its initial framework. They were then used to determine areas of concern which were then improved on which eventually resulted in success for the organization.
NYTCo initially sought to improve operations within the company and the customer experience for all its clients. Using the preferred counter framework, the company sought to identify loyal clients who played a significant role in the company. However, it soon became apparent that the company was increasingly receiving negative reviews as a consequence of a haphazard project which failed to consider all issues impacting the organizations efficiency. Although planning was done correctly in the formative stages, the company was plagued by a breakdown in communication which stalled progress. This was further exacerbated by the fact that the project manager did not prepare company employees adequately for the project. As a consequence, the project was not supported fully, in addition to the absence of a singular methodology to address any of the concerns raised. This resulted in many of the activities being behind schedule, not meeting the budgetary allocation and failing to remain within its scope of practice.
After a string of failures, the NYTCo learned from its initial mistakes in project management and began an elaborate improvement initiative to guarantee positive results in the future. The company sought to achieve this goal by focusing primarily on boundary-less operations to aid in the creation of the Publishing Business System (PBS). Deployment of this system was largely dependent upon project management in order to coordinate all IT projects within the corporation. The aim was to diversify its portfolio to not only rely on reactive news reporting but also adding secondary activities to ensure the company experienced predictable and quantifiable success. It was through this process-oriented approach that executives within the company gain a deeper understanding of project management using a disciplined approach informed by a well-ordered approach. Success in the creation of PBS was largely due to the company’s adherence to many of the standard approaches which had initially been ignored when the company functioned as a single business unit.
Project management maturity model has recently emerged as an important factor in determining success of with the overall organizational structure. Higher levels of maturity have been found to be a major determining factor for organizational success through scrupulous implementation of goals and objectives developed through strategic planning. Knowledge of project management tools and methods is also imperative if progress is to be realized by an organization. Thorough planning, execution, monitoring, and control using the earned value analysis (EVA) as the main management tool has been found to aid firms in realizing success through the five project management maturity model levels. Organizations can, thus, realize set objectives by implementing a structured approach which takes into account the importance of stakeholders and team members in project management.