I’ve completed many project management maturity assessments using the P3M3, OPM3, and 4Q models for clients, and they are a great tool for improving project management success but too many organisations get fixated on the scores that come out of the model. Some organisations think that if they are a 2 they need to be a 3; or if they are a 3 they need to be a 5 (the scale is usually 0-5 with 5 being the highest level of maturity). I know of one organisation that made it clear to the assessor that they would not accept any score less than 4 in any of the assessment areas because that is what their manager expected them to be (despite clearly not meeting the requirements for this).
The organisation’s that do this, and the consultants that allow it, are missing the point about these tools. The point of any maturity assessment should always be about success, specifically how the organisation defines success, and helping the organisation be more successful. The maturity assessment itself should take a snapshot of current levels of success and also the score from the model – this becomes the baseline. The next step is to work with the client to define what the future level of success should be, and then with this information define target scores in areas that the organisation should focus on to achieve these levels of success – achieving the new/higher scores is just an added bonus. It should always be about success and not about the score – there is a correlation not causation relationship between scores and success.
For example, I have personally seen that it is possible to have a highly successful organisation scoring low 3’s and an organisation scoring high 4’s that wasn’t successful at all due to unnecessary process and bureaucracy. For the first organisation there was room for slight improvement in areas that actually delivered value, and for the second organisation there was an opportunity to become more efficient but doing less.
One of the first questions you should ask when starting a maturity assessment is how successful are you, and how successful do you want to be? If the organisation can’t answer these then they are going to get a low score anyway and they probably have a range of issues to deal with. Once you have this information you can then use the model you want (P3M3, OPM3, & Praxis are all good models) to get scores from 0-5 in multiple areas of portfolio, programme, and project management.
The instead of arbitrarily recommending increases in scores, you need to focus on an increase in success, and use the model to identify the areas (and their scores) that will provide this uplift. The target scores should be focused on being more successful and not just getting a higher score.
And of course, the most important part of any maturity assessment are the recommendations for improvement. These need to be prioritised and achievable given organisational abilities and constraints.
So, if you are considering a project management maturity assessment, and you definitely should, make sure that the focus in on lifting your success rates, and not simply lifting the score.