Last week we introduced OPM3, the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model, with a brief overview of the tools and infrastructure it provides in organizational project management. This week, we continue our discussion with an exploration of the three elements that provide the foundation of the OPM3 model.

First, an important distinction. Historically, standards in the field of project management have focused heavily on the individual project manager or program manager. This stems from a convention of measuring aptitude: what do you know, and do you know what to do in a project management context. OPM3 on the other hand, represents a first for the Project Management Institute, addressing not only individual project manager competencies, but best practices across the organization for portfolio, program, and project management.

As a project manager, using the word organization may seem daunting. In the context of OPM3, however, the organization could be your entire company as easily as it could be your own functional area. This is the real beauty of the model: it scales impeccably.

The Knowledge Element provides the foundation for OPM3: 557 best practices as defined by thousands of project management professionals at work in the field. The Knowledge Element doesn’t provide any specific guidance on implementation, rather it provides a background on OPM3 components and operation.

The Assessment Element provides access to the OPM3 Self-Assessment, the online tool that allows users to compare traits of their current organization against best practices as defined in the OPM3 model. Through this self-assessment, you will become keenly aware of strengths and weaknesses in your organization, and see just where you stand against the continuum of organizational project management maturity.

Still, the data you cull from the assessment process might not be an appropriate picture for your organization. That’s why, as a function of the assessment process, you are able to define which best practices apply most critically to your project, program, or portfolio environment.

At the highest level, your OPM3 journey could end there: with a snapshot of your current capabilities and a new awareness of where your organization stands on the maturity continuum. However, assuming you are investing in the process for continuous results, the Improvement Element will help you deliver. Here, you will use the data from the assessment process and build a plan for improvements on key best practices for your organization, implement those improvements, and then re-assess to ensure successful implementation. Each change is specifically targeted to advancement along the maturity continuum.

While the self-assessment tool is comprehensive, like any assessment, interpretation of variables can be tricky. That is why specially-educated Cadence project managers are available to help your organization begin the OPM3 assessment process, a powerful tool for ensuring your projects are delivering the right results today.