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Assessing your organisation's maturity

Sep 08, 2019

Good change management can make a business. It can keep it afloat when times are hard and make it soar when things are going well. It’s important you know how to assess your own organisation for its portfolio and programme maturity, says Féilim Harvey.

For organisations, the difference between surviving and failing can be linked to how they adapt to change. Achieving meaningful change can mean constructing a portfolio of programmes and projects to move the business forward. Yet, many CEOs believe their businesses are not well prepared to execute change. Research shows that only 55% of change management programmes have established, or mature, planning processes in place. Programmes with immature processes can suffer losses 14 times larger than those with mature processes.

Assessing your portfolio and programme management capabilities can help you to identify weak spots and start planning how to evolve. In turn, this will improve the rate of return of your change programmes and reduce wasted costs associated with poor execution.


Let’s start with what a maturity assessment is not. It’s not a test of your project and programme managers’ capabilities. A maturity assessment aims to understand, assess and benchmark how your organisation undertakes project, programme and portfolio management. 

Your entire organisation does not need to be mature in project portfolio management disciplines. You might exclude some areas, such as administration. Including the whole organisation in your assessment may very well ensure a low score. An evaluation should focus in on those areas responsible for the delivery of your change initiatives.

Benefits of a maturity assessment

There are many benefits to conducting a portfolio and programme maturity assessment. First, there is potential to reduce project cost losses from 28% to 2%. Transport for London achieved estimated savings of £1 billion through assessing and increasing its maturity level.

Assessment will also help you understand your current capability to deliver change initiatives and inform decisions relating to risk exposure. You can compare different parts of the organisation to each other, or the business itself with peers or industry standards. This would help you assess where mature portfolio and programme management capabilities will have the most significant impact.

Assessment can direct you to take action, redirect resources, look for external help or re-design your portfolio or programme for better results.

What can I expect from a maturity assessment?

The first step in an assessment is to agree on its scope. What are the priorities for review?  

The second step is to interview key stakeholders and review portfolio/programme documentation to identify and assess critical risks.  A maturity assessment tool is generally used to help capture this information. The tool provides a clear RAG (red, amber, green) status for each of the elements and provides a summary of the review.  

The third step is to score each area and provide supporting information. Risks and recommended actions are captured, and stakeholders should agree on how to put changes in place.  

A full maturity assessment is typically completed within six to eight weeks, dependent on the scope of the assessment.  Scoring levels of maturity differ depending on the method used. They are generally expressed as ad-hoc, immature, established, mature or optimised, or similar.

Very few organisations will ever need to obtain a Level 5 maturity level. What is important is to define what maturity level is suitable for your organisation to maximise your investment, identify quick wins and create a medium-term plan to get there.

Féilim Harvey is a Partner in PwC.