Project Portfolio Management Maturity Modeling

Project Portfolio Management Maturity Modeling

Project Portfolio Management Maturity Modeling

“Maturity comes not with age but with the acceptance of responsibility. You are only young once but immaturity can last a lifetime!” -Edwin Louis Cole

The essence of an IT strategic plan is to align the IT department with the organization’s strategic intent, vision and business objectives in concert with the senior executive team. The goal is to develop a road map of initiatives and activities that will enable the organization to achieve the vision, and optimize the IT resource capability to deliver on the promised benefits and outcomes needed to accomplish the firm’s mission.

In April of 2000, Cirque du Soleil engaged Danielle Savoie as the first CIO of the famous Cirque and she placed the organization on a course of upward maturity by developing their first IT Strategic Plan. According to a CIO.com 2002 article titled “Rapid Deployment: IT at Cirque du Soleil”, Ms. Savoie delivered on her department’s strategic intent to streamline the Cirque IT infrastructure to provide a perfect show under the big top night after night.

So what does IT Strategic Planning and Cirque du Soleil’s accomplishments have to do with Project Portfolio Management Maturity Modeling? Everything!

When an organization starts down the road of maturing its IT department to execute the right projects more efficient and effectively, they have embarked on a form of Project Portfolio Management Maturity. They are addressing the questions: are we doing the right thing and are we doing them right?

Organizations are made up of individuals who will only change their behavior for one or two reasons: avoiding pain or going for gain. Pains that prompt an organization to pursue maturing their PPM capability are:

  • Lack of accountability regarding who owns the oversight of the IT portfolio.
  • Project investments are not aligned to the business objectives of the corporation.
  • Lack of standardized processes leading to project execution heroics.
  • Roles and responsibilities are not clearly defined which creates confusion within the organization.
  • Investments are approved regardless of critical information being absent.
  • Limited or no visibility into the portfolio performance.
  • Project outcomes are not verified to determine if the investment produce the expected return. (Try that with your 401K you’re expected to retire on).
  • Constrained resources are used sub-optimally due to lack of appropriate alignment and allocation.

One of the greatest challenges to Project Portfolio Management Maturity assessment is the lack of industry standardization. There are a number of recommended ways to conduct an assessment but no official methodology or process has been sanctioned. 

Free Assessment

PMO 360 Assessment

According, to James S. Pennypacker in his book “Project Portfolio Management Maturity Model”, there are 5 Levels of PPM maturity that an organization can use to assess its organizations PPM processes. They are:

  • Level 1 – Initial Process
  • Level 2 – Structured Process and Standards
  • Level 3 – Organizational Standards and Institutionalized Process
  • Level 4 – Managed Process
  • Level 5 – Optimizing Process

Each level is then subdivided into (6) six sections which are:

  1. Portfolio Governance
  2. Project Opportunity Assessment (Demand Management)
  3. Project Prioritization and Selection
  4. Portfolio and Project Communication Management
  5. Portfolio Performance Management
  6. Portfolio Resource Management

Gartner developed the Five Progressive Levels of the Maturity Model which is displayed below.

Gartner PPM Maturity Model

Gartner (April 2012)

Also, in their book, “IT Portfolio Management Step-by-Step,” Maizlish and Handler state that, “The overall goal of IT portfolio management is to optimize the risk reward trade-off when allocating resources in support of organization objectives.” Their PPM Maturity Model follows the steps below:

  • (0) Admitting
  • (1) Communicating
  • (2) Governing
  • (3) Managing
  • (4) Optimizing

Maizlish and Handler’s maturity model is further sub divided into the following section:

  • Projects
  • Application
  • Infrastructure
  • People
  • Process
  • Information

Organizations embarking on a Project Portfolio Management Maturity Modeling journey need to select a maturity model that is aligned to their company’s culture. In my experience, this is more important than the specific vendor model chosen to perform the assessment.  In the end, the executive leadership’s goal is to impact the following areas of their organizations:

PPM Components


Project Server can be configured and modified to enable an organization to align it's project investments with its strategic objectives. Whether on premise or online, Project Server can provide:

  • Portfolio Visibility
  • Portfolio Scenario Planning and Optimization
  • Portfolio Selection and Alignment
  • Budget and Cost Planning
  • Resource Alignment and Capacity Planning

Project Server Portfolio



Gerald J. Leonard

Gerald J. Leonard is an international expert on the topics of Developing A Culture That Works, Strategy Implementation, and Project Portfolio Management. He is the author of Culture Is The Bass: 7 Principles for Developing A Culture That Works, and the upcoming book, Workplace Jazz: How Emotionally Connected Teams Thrive and Sustain Results. He is the CEO of Principles of Execution (PofE), a Certified Minority Business Enterprise with over 20+ years experiencing working with large Federal and State Governments and Multi-National Corporations. Gerald provides an insightful and unique way of combining his experience and expertise as a professional bassist and a certified Portfolio Management Professional consultant. Find out how you can work with Gerald as your business coach or attend one of his upcoming programs