Project Management Maturity Development
Where We Started
The City of Calgary is a large metropolitan centre in southern Alberta, serving a population of more than 1.3 million residents. Recognizing project management as an essential practice to support organizational success, there was a desire to formally evaluate project management capabilities and recommend improvements.
What They Needed
Project management is an essential capability within the City, supporting investment of new facilities and capabilities, and the sustainment of critical infrastructure. The City had long invested in the support and enhancement of its project management capabilities. A central focal point of this strategy was the formation of the Corporate Project Management Centre (CPMC) as a centre of excellence and champion for promoting project management effectiveness.
The City sought a means of assessing and supporting the improvement of project management practices within individual departments. They also recognized that there are a variety of project types that are conducted with the City. As a result, there was an identified need for a framework that was flexible and responsive to the circumstances and challenges of different departments, while providing a consistent and objective means of assessing capabilities and formulating recommendations.
The City issued an RFP to explore the relevance of maturity models as a means of organizational assessment. In particular, there was a desire to explore how to effectively apply maturity models in an an organization as diverse as a municipal organization, and to identify strategies to adopt an improvement plan to guide improvement efforts and enable the assessment and evaluation of improvement over time.
What We Did
We worked with the CPMC to conduct an exploratory assessment of the current project management practices within the City, the challenges being encountered, the potential role of maturity models and the interest in supporting and piloting a maturity model for the City. This led to the formation of an internal working group consisting of representatives from departments across the City who were actively involved in delivering significant project efforts.
We collaborated with the working group to conduct an introductory series of workshops regarding project management maturity models, their evolution and their role in supporting assessment, benchmarking and organizational improvement. In delivering these workshops, we facilitated a strategic dialogue within the City about what their objectives and desired outcomes, and how those might be realized.
The result of the working group process was a desire for an approach that leveraged current frameworks and policies, and provided a means of internal assessment, comparison between departments and evaluation of on-going improvements. To support this, we facilitated the development of a tailored maturity model customized specifically for use within the City. In additional to developing the maturity model, we also guided the development of an assessment framework, questionnaires for interview and survey responses, and a scoring model that allowed for consistent and objective comparison of capabilities and practices. A core emphasis of this model was supporting improvements in consistency, robustness and effectiveness of departmental project management practices.
The development of the maturity model for the City of Calgary was a tremendous example of co-creation, collaboratively bringing together external expertise and internal focus, knowledge and clarity. The working group served as a sounding board for both the maturity model and the assessment approach. Their role ensured that the dimensions and areas of focus being assessed within the model were relevant, appropriate and meaningful for a City audience. They also helped to shape and vet the assessment approach. They helped to ensure that the process was streamlined and focused on what was most relevant, that it would be accepted by department audiences, and that the results that emerged were presented in a way that was useful, informative and relevant.
In support of this work, we provided subject matter expertise in industry practices, organizational assessment and maturity model development. We provided an external and objective counterpoint to internal perspectives, helping to ensure that the model was defensible, robust and comprehensive. We helped ensure that the results would provide tangible and useful insight and serve as a basis for forming and presenting recommendations. In particular, we applied our expertise in developing models, conducting assessments and designing instruments to ensure that the assessment tools provided objective, consistent and comparable results.
To prove out the model in practice, we conducted a series of pilot assessments with departments that had been involved in the working group. These provided localized insights into key project areas of the City. Conducing multiple pilots provided an opportunity to step back and assess whether the model was providing consistent and comparable insights across the City, ensuring a meaningful basis for not just benchmarking but also assessing ongoing improvement efforts.
The resulting model was designed to support self-assessment, conducting of internal assessments by CPMC resources as an internal provider, or objective facilitation by external subject matter experts. The model continued to be used as a means of assessment by several departments, guiding and focussing improvement efforts and supporting the City on its continued project management improvement journey.