Friday, October 25, 2013

Project Governance – Maturity Level V

"There is a universality to comedy.”
                                      - Simon Pegg

We have been building to this post for a while now.  This is the final installment of my series on project governance – or, more accurately, governance in the project context.  In the first post I introduced my arbitrary, tongue-in-cheek governance maturity level (gml).  Having covered all of the descriptions for project governance maturity up to this point, it is now time to reveal the ultimate state of governance of interest to project managers.
Historically, the highest level of governance is some variation on the theme of continuous improvement or optimizing, but I announced in my previous post that that was not the case for this maturity model.  And that post described the penultimate maturity level as alignment with organizational strategy, so what remains for the highest level of project governance maturity?

For strategic projects, there are really only three reasons that justify the project:  it increases revenue;  it reduces cost;  it is a regulatory requirement.  (Do you know of any other reasons that legitimately justify a strategic project?)  For most enterprises, what department has the highest stature?  Marketing?  HR?  Procurement?  FINANCE (hint hint)?  Of course it’s finance.  And it’s time finance started seeing projects as generating revenue or reducing expenses.
In May, Angelo Baratta presented a webinar for PMI’s Information Systems Community of Practice titled “The Value Triple Constraint: Project Value Left Behind” (PMI and ISCoP membership required).  In it, Baratta reminded us that projects have an economic benefit to the organization.  So often as project managers, we are focused on cost (along with time and scope) and leave benefit and value to the cost-benefit analysis or the charter – and to bean counters or stakeholders with “higher pay grade.”  But because there is this positive financial component, delays (among other choices) have a financial impact to the organization.

The highest level of project governance maturity, then, is when projects are recognized as enterprise assets.  Just like raw materials and capital investments, we (the PM community) should be lobbying to have our projects recognized as corporate assets.  This would immediately transition us to the big leagues.  Our babies would be elevated in stature within the corporate and political pecking order.  Project choices (delay, increase scope, cut scope, etc.) would have clear financial impact to the organization.  Getting resources, as Baratta noted in his presentation, would be straightforward to justify when the alternatives can be quantified.
Of course, these benefits don’t come without perils, but such is the consequence of maturity.  We will no longer be able to operate informally.  We will operate in the spotlight.  We will have to learn to speak “executive” (cut your vocabulary in half!).  Risk management will impact the corporate risk profile.  Governance in the project context will be integrated into the organization’s financial governance (think Sarbox).

One of the objectives of PMI is to have “Project Management” recognized as a discipline (or profession) distinct from “Management.”  A step in this direction is to elevate the governance maturity and to transition project delivery from a technical discipline to a financial discipline with direct consequence for the enterprise bottom line. 
From gml-I Chaos, gml-II Solution, gml-III Consultancy, and gml-IV Alignment, we have climbed the maturity staircase.  Getting to gml-V Capitalized is governance your CFO would recognize – the next stage in PMI maturity.

Has this journey been worth it?  What changes would you make to gml?  Or how would you define a project governance maturity model?
© 2013 Chuck Morton.  All Rights Reserved.

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