Purpose – Maturity models have been widely adopted as a popular framework for improvement project management practices. Despite their prevalence, there is still minimal evidence that improvements in maturity correspond to improvements in performance or value. This paper aims to explore the challenges faced in applying project management maturity models and offers suggestions for their revision. Design/methodology/approach – The paper highlights the presumptions in their development and use that are inhibiting relevance of maturity models. Case studies from a major research project explore the relationship between maturity and value. Insights are generated on how project management maturity models need to change in order to become relevant. Findings – Project management maturity models presume that project management is universal, control oriented and consistent, and that maturity is a linear process. Empirical evidence demonstrates that the practice of project management varies, that different practices result in different value. The paper suggests that a contingent and contextual approach to assessment is required, which maturity models as currently defined may not be able to support. Research limitations/implications – This is a largely conceptual paper and draws on a limited number of case studies that derived maturity from a comprehensive understanding of project management practices. It is not tied to one specific model, and a model that would address the criticisms discussed here has not been conceived or developed. Practical implications – This paper will have particular relevance for organizations, who may place excess faith in the rhetoric surrounding maturity models without questioning their underlying relevance or value. It is also of importance to those who develop maturity models and suggests strategies for their significant revision. Originality/value – This paper takes an important look at whether maturity models actually deliver on their promise and argues that by both design and structure, they are unlikely to do so in their current form.
International Journal of Managing Projects in Business – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 1, 2014
Keywords: Lessons learned; Project management; Maturity model; Improvement; Organizational assessment