Understanding organizational functioning is central to the purpose of maturity models, and it has been argued by Van De Ven, 1976 that these can be evaluated through an exploration of process, structure, consistency, and discretion. Their overall development emanated from the need to understand the major distinctions that existed between defined stages of organizational development, and their principles that can be found in their corporate lifecycles, organizational goals and structures, and the political influences within the enterprise that are the ultimate determinants of adopted strategy.
One of the earliest and most widely recognized maturity models was the Capability Maturity Model for Software (CMM-SW), developed by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA. It popularized the idea that maturity could be reflected by a number of levels assessed across a number of capability areas. Since that time, a number of other maturity models have been developed that enable assessment of enterprises against a range of practices and topics, including strategic management, innovation, contract management, and leadership.
In the field of project management, there has been a significant amount of effort and study conducted in the fields of maturity and the development of various maturity models. Many of these have adopted a similar framework to that of the Capability Maturity Model, with five assessed levels of maturity and a number of capability areas across which the practices of each level are described.
While each of these models supports the identification of process capabilities as suggested by Ford and Schellenberg (1982) what they do not support is the linkage of these process capabilities with an understanding of their influence on organizational performance. The most widely known maturity study to date is that conducted by Kwak and Ibbs (2000), which asserted a correlation between maturity and performance but demonstrated no statistically significant correlations.
A review and evaluation of the effectiveness of project management maturity models as a means of supporting improvements of project success suggests that this correlation is still elusive, and while maturity models have raised the awareness and visibility of project management there is no empirically sound study supporting the use of maturity models as an improvement tool or any theoretical basis for asserting that maturity models in their current form could lead to strategic advantage. Certainly, the larger goal of establishing differentiation and using assessment to attain competitive advantage, as advocated for by Duncan et al (1998), has not been realized.
Cite this Essay
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below