Our recently published “The State of Project Management Survey” gave a clear picture as to the state of project management maturity; 45% of the 317 organisations that took part are somewhat or very dissatisfied with the current level of PM maturity.
This is a significant figure and demonstrates the scale of the opportunity for project management improvements. The survey included a standard 5 level maturity chart for project management. The majority of organisations should aim to achieve level 3 as a minimum so with circa 50% of organisations citing a maturity level of 2 or below, it is no surprise that we find so many dissatisfied respondents in the survey.
So, what can we do to increase project management maturity? I spend much of my time helping organisations improve their project management maturity through a defined Maturity Roadmap.
Here are my 5 top tips:
1) Project methodology
Have you got one? Is it used? Is it practical? Many organisations have a project methodology but struggle to apply it. We can always create something sophisticated and clever, which means it could be complex, which means no one uses it and work around the process rather than working the process. Create a simple scalable, practical methodology that flexes to suit to size, scale, risk and the cost of each project.
2) Easy to use document templates?
Have you got a project management document template for a PID, a Business Case, a Status Report? Is it complex as hell and just turns everyone off? Re-write these documents based on a suite of questions to make them much more accessible. Eliminate the fluff and go for simplicity and ease of use. No point having a document template that people refuse to fill in or fill in after the fact just as a “tick box” exercise.
Simple analogy; would you let just anyone drive the forklift truck, or would you put people through some training first? So why can anyone get let loose on a project? Projects are often given to subject matter experts. This is fine. But let’s sprinkle some best practice project management on these SMEs and given them a fighting chance. A customised project management training course is needed, and you need the badge before you go off and run that business critical project.
4) Project Register
The first telling question I ask a client is simple. How many projects have you got? Most struggle to answer this question as there isn’t a single Project Register. A list of all our projects, the PMs, the Sponsors, the budgets, the RAG KPI status. Easy to fix with some technology (SharePoint or Project Online are great for this).
5) Plan Templates
The majority of people struggle to create useful, realistic project plans. Do you undertake the same types of projects over and over? Get the experts in a room and create a template and some planning guidance. Actually use time sheet data (if available) and lessons learned to refine and improve this template over time. Why are you reinventing the wheel every time?
OK, I could go on and list many, many more actions. But that’s the point. We sometimes cannot see a way forward when there is so much to do. So why not start with one of these goals? They might not all fit your situation, you might have ticked some of these off. But start the debate. “How can we improve our project management maturity?”