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Module 8: Project Closeout

1.3 Project closeout and the Project Capability Maturity Model

The Capability Maturity Model was originally developed to assist in the development of software, but has evolved to become a useful tool in describing the overall capability of an organisation in terms of project management systems and processes. Five levels are used:

Level 1 – Initial ad hoc systems and processes, with success largely dependent on the efforts of capable individuals, but if they leave there is no inbuilt continuity and as a consequence the business could collapse because there is not replication or repeatability of what is done.
Level 2 – Repeatable Some systems and processes are documented, which enables successful activities to be repeated, as long as they are similar to past activities.
Level 3 – Defined Standard processes are in place for documenting procedures and management systems with processes widely integrated into the decision-making processes of the organisation.
Level 4 – Managed Decisions are made using formal management processes. This includes resource and decision planning, context setting, risk identification and management and monitoring of outcomes for feedback.
Level 5 – Optimised Continuous improvement is possible due to the capture of quantitative information and feedback from decision implementation. New ideas and technologies can be trialed and risk associated with doing new things managed. Review processes provide information that is used to improve current systems and processes.

Using the Capability Maturity Model as the framework, Von Zedwitz (von Zedtwitz, 2002) proposed that organisations at different levels of project management maturity also display different levels of maturity in the project closeout process. Von Zedwitz’s description of what is in place in organisations at different levels of organisational maturity in terms of project closeout maturity is summarised in the table below.

Table 1.1: Typical support in place for project closeout in organisations at different levels of organisational maturity

Maturity of Post-Project Review Processes (PPRs) Description of what’s in place for organisations at different maturity levels
Level 5 - Optimised Organisation-wide post-project review
Consistent inter-project learning
Proactive review of PPR processes
Level 4 - Managed PPR goals quantified and measurable
Corrective action can be taken
Quality of transferable knowledge predictable
Level 3 - Defined PPR processes standardised
Establishment of sound and consistent review criteria
PPR responsibility assigned to a unit
Level 2 - Repeatable Establishment of PPR policies
Introduction of sound review practices
Based on experience with similar reviews
Level 1 - Initial Ad hoc PPR
Reaction-driven reviews
Based on capabilities of project individuals

Note that it is estimated that less than 10 per cent of organisations around the world have achieved Level 5 maturity.

1.2.1 The Project Capability Maturity Model and research projects in general

Just like products, organisations and industries, projects go through a similar lifecycle profile: that of definition, planning, execution, delivery and closeout.

Thinking about projects in terms of their lifecycle and understanding the different skills and capabilities that are required at each stage can greatly assist research managers in delivering successful projects at the same time as using available resources to their greatest advantage.

A skilled project manager will understand that the capabilities required to initiate a project are different to those required to manage project implementation, and are often not found in the same person. Equally, giving someone responsibility for detailed quality control checking and the processes required for project closeout when they prefer to initiate and plan is unlikely to excite them. On the other hand, they are likely to be interested in the lessons learned from completed projects and how they can be applied to new projects and the initiation of new projects.

Understanding the work preferences of a research team in the context of the project lifecycle and the different phases of a project therefore provides a powerful combination of information that can be exploited not only for project implementation success, but also to create project teamwork satisfaction.


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