Application of the Project Management Maturity Model to drive
Organisational Improvement in a State Owned Corporation
A. Korbel, Strategic Consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Sydney, NSW, Australia
R. Benedict, Strategic Senior Consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Over the past decade Project Management Maturity Models have become effective tools for
benchmarking and driving improvements in performance. This paper presents a case study in
applying a project management maturity model to benchmark the practices and capability of a
State Owned Corporation (SOC). This model was a critical guide to setting targets for project
management maturity and providing a clear path for organisational improvement. The focus
of the paper is to not only demonstrate the methodology and results of the assessment, but to
also present the resultant improvement strategies that are being implemented by the SOC.
Keywords: Project Management Maturity, benchmarking, portfolio management,
organisational development, performance improvement
Organisations are increasingly delivering their business through multiple complex programs
and facing the challenge of building project management capability. A Project Management
Maturity Assessment is an effective method for establishing a baseline and provides an
impetus for organisational change. The methodology allows for the setting of
organisationally specific maturity goals, with the ability to implement improvements in a
staged approach at a pace which is logical to that company. Transport Infrastructure
Development Corporation undertook such an assessment and developed an implementation
plan to meet their maturity goals and successfully deliver its portfolio aligned to the corporate
objectives of the organisation.
Project Management Maturity Models
What is Project Management Maturity?
Project Management Maturity models (PMMM) provide a systematic means to perform
benchmarking and hence are adding considerable value to contemporary organizations. The
maturity models provide an assessment framework that enables an organisation to compare its
project delivery with best practice or against competitors, ultimately defining a structured
route to improvement (1).
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Why is Project Management Maturity Important?
Research indicates that organisations that improve their project management maturity
experience cost savings, increased schedule predicability, and improved quality. All of these
contribute to improved return on investment and customer satisfaction (2). Figure 1 below
represents the positive relationship between increasing levels of project management maturity
and increasing project performance (3). This research supports the benefit of undertaking
assessment and benchmarking in order to develop strategies to improve project management
Figure 1: Relationship of Project Maturity and Performance (3)
How is Project Management Maturity Assessed?
A number of project management maturity models have been developed over the past decade
(4). The authors utilised PM Solutions Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM),
which is based on a two-dimensional framework (5, 6). The first dimension reflects levels of
maturity. It is based on the structure of the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute’s
Capability Maturity Model (CMM) which has received widespread acceptance as a standard
for process modelling and assessment of organisational maturity in several process areas. The
second dimension depicts the key knowledge areas of project management adopting the
structure of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) knowledge areas (7).
This structure also forms the basis of the Australian National Project Management
Competency Standards. Figure 2 below provides a diagram of this two-dimensional model.
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Figure 2: Project Management Maturity Assessment Model (8)
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
PMMM Ad-hoc Planned Managed Integrated Adaptive
Time (3) Maturity
Cost (5) National
HR (3) Each Knowledge Area is broken
for down into specific components
PM used to measure maturity and
(4) develop action plans. The number
of components assessed in each
Risk (2) knowledge area is in parentheses.
A 2002 study by the Centre for Business Practices (USA) surveyed 123 senior-level project
management practitioners on their organisations’ project management maturity using the PM
Solutions PMMM (8). This self-assessment model enabled organisations to measure their
project management maturity in project management processes against those generally
accepted as crucial to successful project completion. The benchmarking survey provides
industry average maturity levels for each knowledge areas as well as overall.
Portfolio Management Framework
Today’s businesses find it increasingly important to execute projects efficiently — to do
things right — bringing to the customer the expected quality and benefits desired from each
project. They find it equally important to optimise their portfolio of projects — to direct the
right resources to do the right things — in order to meet the organisation’s strategic
goals (9). Unlike project management for which there are internationally recognised
methodologies, tools and templates, there is currently no standardised approach to project
portfolio management. A systematic approach is required to manage the risk/reward equation
for project portfolio management.
Organisations with level 5 project management maturity pursue a portfolio of projects that are
aligned with corporate objectives, measure and benchmark performance to inform decision-
making, and continually improve their capability by capturing lessons learned and best
practice, both from within the organisation and the broader industry (10).
The author’s portfolio management framework (represented in Figure 3) is an adaptation of
open systems theory, where ‘an individual project can be viewed as a system (or a subsystem
within the entire collection of all projects of an organisation)’ (11). The framework defines
the hierarchy and elements required for successful decision making in the management of a
project portfolio: corporate governance, a portfolio strategy, project governance, people,
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systems, methodology and continual improvement. Each of these elements act as a control
mechanism to ensure the portfolio ‘system’ remains in equilibrium. Implementation of a
Portfolio Management Framework ensures the selection and prioritisation of projects in line
with business objectives, the right capability and capacity of resources, and effective
management and control to achieve targeted outcomes.
.Figure 3. Portfolio Management Framework
Decision Making Framework
Post Implementation Review
Corporate Governance sets out the framework for making decisions about the business.
Through the Business Planning process, corporate objectives are defined in relation to the
market environment and business drivers. Strategies are developed to achieve these corporate
objectives. Targets and measures are used to monitor and control progress. A risk profile
assists in identifying, assessing and managing risks. Where it exists, the Program
Management Office collects performance data and reports to the Executive Team to support
them in managing the business.
The Executive Team identifies and prioritises portfolios of work in order to achieve corporate
objectives. These initially tend to be at a strategic high-level where the objective is clear but
the method for achieving it is not. Through a planning process the portfolios can be broken
down into programs of work consisting of individual projects with specific requirements.
Interdependencies between projects and programs should be established. Based on this level
of detail, the Executive team can plan for appropriate human and financial resources to deliver
these projects. Teams can be formed to plan and implement individual projects.
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Project Governance sets out the framework for making decisions and managing progress
within the project. This reflects the objectives, targets and measures of the Corporate
Governance framework. A project structure sets out the reporting lines, authorities and
decision-making process for the project. Performance data is collected and reported to assist
the project team and Executive Team monitor and control progress in achieving the project
and corporate objectives.
The methodology sets out the standards, policies and procedures for managing projects. In
mature organisations this is applied consistently across projects. This forms the basis of
training team members to competently perform their roles. Consistency of approach enables
resources to move easily between projects while building this competence. It also supports
sharing of experience and comparison of performance to identify examples of good practice
and risk management that can be leveraged across projects. The methodology should be
continually revised based on experience and lessons learned to improve future project
People require a clear understanding of what is expected of them and how to perform their
role in order to make effective contributions to a project. A competency framework defines
the knowledge, skills, attributes and values that are required of each role and provides a clear
path for professional development. A learning and development plan provides the training
and support to enable people to develop professionally. Position descriptions set out specific
accountabilities for individuals along with measures for assessing performance. These
measures should reflect not only the role but also the project and corporate targets so that it is
clear how individual’s are contributing to achieving business objectives. Professional
development plans should be negotiated between staff and line managers to set performance
targets and define strategies for building competency and achieving these targets. These
professional development plans provide a transparent framework for providing feedback and
Project Management Information Systems enable integrated planning and monitoring of time,
cost, resources and progress at the project, program and portfolio level. It supports quick,
accurate and consistent reporting for effective and timely decision-making. This is essential
for successful portfolio management. A cost management system is essential for allocating
finances, projecting cashflow, managing expenditure and processing payments. Ideally the
PMIS should integrate with this system to ensure a consistent data source and minimise time
for reporting and cost management. A knowledge management system makes the
methodology available to all staff and can also capture lessons learned.
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Mature organisations report, monitor, and control performance at the project, program and
portfolio levels, and learn from experience to continually improve. Post-implementation
reviews are effective in measuring project objectives and also capturing lessons learned to
improve future performance. The outcomes and benefits achieved by a project can inform
future corporate targets, strategies, and measures as well as the selection and prioritisation of
projects. Historical data on scope, time, cost, and risks informs more accurate and thorough
planning of future projects. Examples of good practice, internally and externally, can be
incorporated into the methodology to better support planning and implementation, and to
build staff competence.
Case Study - Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation
The Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation (TIDC) was established as a State
Owned Corporation (SOC) on 1 January 2004 under the Transport Administration Act 1988,
to develop major transport infrastructure projects for the New South Wales Government.
The aim of TIDC is to cost effectively deliver transport solutions in a timely manner that
incorporate the most appropriate standards and technology, support the growth of New South
Wales, enhance its natural urban environments, provide tangible benefits for commuters and
represent value for money.
TIDC has evolved from a single project entity to delivering multiple complex programs
valued at $4 billion. TIDC’s programs require interfacing with a live transport network,
managing the demands of multiple stakeholders across government, industry and the
community, whilst managing multiple contracts in a market which is resource limited. It is
this complexity and scale which has been the driver for TIDC to seek a systematic approach
to manage their operational and organisational risk profile whilst ensuring they continue to
deliver quality products efficiently and effectively for Government.
TIDC has recently implemented a new matrix organisational structure to enable staff to not
only deliver TIDC’s current core business to the highest standards, but enable them to both
anticipate and successfully adapt to the future needs of the business.
As part of this new structure, the Executive Team have established a Program Management
Office (PMO) in TIDC. The PMO is accountable for portfolio and project reporting to the
Executive Team and initiatives to improve project management performance.
TIDC engaged the authors to undertake a project management maturity assessment in order to
benchmark itself against similar organisations, identify strategies for improvement, set goals
to increase maturity and develop an implementation plan to achieve these goals. The authors
undertook a four-stage process as outlined in the diagram below.
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Figure 4: Methodology
Stage One: Define the Methodology
With the assistance of the AIPM Research Library, the authors undertook an extensive
literature review on project management maturity models and case studies. There are several
different models in practice, and no industry standard as yet. Selection of the appropriate
maturity model was critical to achieving the assessment objectives. The PM Solutions model
was chosen for two reasons: it had been used to collect data on 123 organisations in the
United States thus providing a basis for benchmarking; and it was based on the PMBOK
knowledge areas which are consistent with the Australian National Project Management
The detailed methodology for conducting the assessment was developed based on the work of
TJ Kloppenburg (12, 13). A survey tool was designed to capture information from
participants in relation to each of the knowledge area sub-components (14). Interviews were
used to gather as much information as possible. This face-to-face contact was also very
important to engage participants, build ownership and identify champions.
Five projects were selected by the Executive Team as the sample group for the assessment.
These projects represent various scopes of works, stages of lifecycle and contract models. A
key to the assessment was to interview the Project Manager as well as other team members
for each project. This provided insights from the various specialist services as well as project
delivery. The total sample group of 26 individuals accounts for nearly 25% of TIDC’s
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A database was developed to provide an efficient means of organising data and reporting
results. The database was structured to capture the project management maturity rating of
each interviewee against each PMBOK knowledge area sub-component across the project
lifecycle, along with a rationale statement for the rating. Opportunities for improvement and
examples of good practice were also captured.
Working with the client a communication plan was developed and implemented. The CEO
launched the assessment at the monthly all-staff meeting. This executive leadership and
commitment was critical to the success of the initiative. A one-page fact sheet was used to
explain the objectives of the assessment, why it was being undertaken, and how it would be
conducted. This was circulated to all interviewees when meeting times were made with them.
Stage Two: Conducting the Assessment
Each interview lasted for approximately 1 ½ hours. Both authors participated in every
interview, alternating roles as Lead and Scribe. An open questioning method was used to
explore interviewees understanding and application of the nine project management
knowledge areas in relation to the sample project, as well as generally in their role.
Individuals were asked to define their key activities and describe the processes, tools and
information they used at each stage of the project lifecycle. The Lead asked the primary
questions, while the Scribe documented information against the relevant knowledge area
using the survey tool. This provided a checklist to ensure that all knowledge sub-components
were addressed. The scribe asked follow-up questions to cover all areas.
Based on this information, a rating of maturity was assigned for each relevant project
management knowledge area sub-component. Any components that were not applicable to a
role were not scored. The authors compared responses to the characteristics of maturity levels
as defined in the assessment tool. This discussion expanded the definition of each maturity
level and after the first several interviews, gave greater definition to assist in future scoring.
The ratings were discussed immediately after the interview, to ensure accuracy and avoid
confusion between interviewees. A brief rationale statement was documented to justify the
ratings for each individual. Examples of improvement opportunities were recorded in the
database along with examples of best practice.
TIDC has a quality-certified Corporate Management System (CMS) with documentation to
manage the scope of the organisation’s objectives, functions and responsibilities. The authors
reviewed TIDC’s CMS documentation relating to project management. We also reviewed
project Audit Reports on the sample projects which assessed compliance with the CMS
procedures. Staff were asked to bring to the interview examples of any key documents they
used in managing aspects of their project.
Stage Three: Executive Team Workshop
The results from the assessment were presented to the Executive Team in a workshop. This
presented the opportunity to validate the assessment and set priorities for building project
The average maturity by knowledge area was presented against the industry benchmark. In
some cases there were variations in maturity across project teams, or sub-components within a
knowledge area. Detailed breakdown of data was also provided by project, knowledge area
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sub-component, and functional area was provided to assist in interpreting the data. We also
identified examples of what was working well and opportunities for improvement to inform
strategies to build maturity.
Based on the documentation review and interviews, the authors assessed TIDC’s project
management methodology in relation to the nine project management body of knowledge
(PMBOK) areas and the project lifecycle. A heat map was used to represent procedures that
are working well across projects, those that can be leveraged from individual projects, those
that require enhancement, and gaps where no procedures exist. This assessment reinforced
some of the issues identified through the interviews. There were examples of good procedures
and tools across most all knowledge areas and throughout the project lifecycle. This
suggested that TIDC’s project management methodology could be greatly enhanced by
incorporating these examples and by filling the remaining gaps that exist.
Stage Four: Implementation Plan
TIDC set itself a target level of maturity and a timeframe to achieve this goal. The authors
worked with the client to develop an Implementation Plan to meet this target. The PMO
Director has responsibility for achieving this plan, and was directly involved in its
development. The plan encompasses the key components of a Portfolio Management
• A Corporate Reporting framework that complies with all statutory requirements as
well as TIDC’s corporate and portfolio governance
• A Portfolio View of all TIDC programs and projects that informs selection and
prioritisation of projects, allocation of resources, and managing interdependencies and
• Project Health Checks to establish a baseline against a standard set of metrics
• Monthly Project Status Reports to monitor and control progress
• A Project Management Competency Framework, that draws on the Australian
National Project Management Competency Standards and the Competency Standards
for Complex Projects,
• Position descriptions that set out key accountabilities, skills and attributes for project
• A new Performance Development Framework, in which each staff negotiates with
their manager performance targets and development strategies to build competency
and achieve these targets.
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• A Project Management Community of Practice to share knowledge and best practice,
both internally and externally, support informal coaching and formal mentoring, and
promote professional development and career progression
• A refined program and project management methodology to leverage good practice,
and develop new tools and procedures that comprehensively address all knowledge
areas across the project lifecycle.
• Training, coaching and assistance to build capability in this methodology.
• An Enterprise Project Management system to support integrated management of time
and cost and to automate reporting at the portfolio, program and project level.
• Post-implementation reviews on completed projects to capture performance data,
lessons learned and good practice.
• Refine methodology based on lessons learned and good practice
• Repeat Project Management Maturity assessments to benchmark its performance,
track progress in achieving its target maturity level and set actions for continual
The CEO presented this plan at an all-staff meeting, again expressing his commitment to
building project management as a core capability of the organisation. In addition, the authors
and the PMO Director presented the assessment results and implementation plan to the
interview participants. It was important to give these individuals the opportunity to see, and
to test, the results in order to build ownership and support for the outcomes. One Executive
Program Director commented that he found it extremely valuable to see how they were
performing in relation to other organisations, and he thought the actions being taken to build
project management maturity were some of the most important initiatives the organisation
Lessons Learned and Conclusion
A project management maturity assessment is an effective method for establishing a baseline
maturity and provides an impetus for organisational change. The methodology allows for the
setting of organisationally specific maturity goals, with the ability to implement
improvements in a staged approach at a pace which is logical to that company. In the case of
TIDC, the implementation plan to meet their maturity goals was planned, resourced, and
funded as part of the TIDC business plan, and aligned to the corporate objectives of the
Executive Leadership and a good Communication Strategy for the PMMM was a key success
factor for the initiative, and focussed on ensuring ownership of the process, results and
implementation plan by TIDC. TIDC’s CEO was the champion for the maturity assessment,
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and launched the project to all staff in the organisation, ensuring the business support
necessary. Following completion of the assessment, the Executive Team validated the results
and set project maturity goals. An implementation path to achieve this maturity was
developed with the PMO Director. Finally, results of the assessment and implementation plan
were presented back to the TIDC project management community.
Key to the success of the assessment is to ensure that the sample group represents the
organisation’s different types of projects at various phases of their lifecycle, as well as staff
representing various functions of the organisation. Experience led the author’s to believe that
a sample size of 12-15 was optimal for gathering information from interviews. After 15
respondents the amount of new information collected begins to drop off.
TIDC have planned further project management maturity assessments at milestones
determined by the goals in their implementation plan. The continual monitoring of
organisational maturity and revision of the plan will provide the basis by which TIDC will be
able to meet their maturity targets.
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