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In the hyper-competitive business environment that exists today, the only way organizations can reach their strategic goals is to make the most of their people. To develop people management capabilities, organizations must build teams, develop skills, and manage performance to fuel organizational growth and development. Without a strong focus on workforce management and professional development, organizations will suffer performance-related setbacks and hamper their growth strategy.

The People Capability Maturity Model (otherwise known as People CMM, PCMM, P-CMM) provides guidance for improving the capability of an organization’s workforce. These best practices help identify skill gaps, break down workflow bottlenecks, and empower team members to develop skills that help the organization succeed.

The PCMM is a maturity framework (adapted from the Capability Maturity Model for Software – CMM) that focuses on continuously improving the management and development of an organization’s workforce. It describes an evolutionary improvement path from ad-hoc, inconsistently performed practices, to a mature, disciplined, and continuously improving development of the knowledge, skills, and attributes KSA)motivation of the workforce that enhances strategic business performance.

Based on the current best practices in fields such as human resources, knowledge management, and organizational development, the PCMM guides organizations in improving their processes for managing and developing their workforces. The PCMM helps organizations characterize the maturity of their workforce practices, establish a program of continuous workforce development, set priorities for immediate improvement actions, integrate workforce development with process improvement, and establish a culture of excellence.

The PCMM is a roadmap for implementing workforce practices that continuously improve the capability of an organization’s workforce. Since an organization cannot implement all of the best workforce practices in one afternoon, the PCMM introduces them in stages.

Each progressive level of the PCMM produces a unique transformation in the organization’s culture by equipping it with more powerful practices for attracting, developing, organizing, motivating, and retaining its workforce. Thus, the PCMM establishes an integrated system of workforce practices that matures through increasing alignment with the organization’s business objectives, performance, and changing needs.

The five maturity levels lay successive foundations for continuously improving talent, developing effective methods, and successfully directing the people assets of the organization. Each maturity level is a well-defined evolutionary plateau that institutionalizes a level of capability for developing the talent within the organization.

PCCM - Process Maturity Rating

The process maturity rating is from ad hoc and inconsistently performed practices, to a mature and disciplined development of the knowledge, skills, and motivation of the workforce. Traditionally, process maturity models like ISO/IEC 15504 or CMMI focus on organisational improvement with respect to operational (Product) Development Processes. PCMM in contrast focus instead on the three prominent factors for operational capability to deliver successful products and services:

  • People
  • Process
  • Products, Technology

Thus, these 3Ps of PCMM are comparable to ITIL’s 4Ps: People, Processes, Products (tools and technology) and Partners (suppliers, vendors, and outsourcing organisations). PCMM is characterised by a holistic approach to people-related issues, instead of looking at traditional Human Resource interventions in a reactionary scrappy fashion.

The PCMM framework enables organisations to incrementally focus on key process areas and to lay foundations for improvement in workforce practices. Unlike other HR models, PCMM requires that key process areas, improvements, interventions, policies, and procedures are institutionalized across the organisation — irrespective of function or level. Therefore, all improvements have to permeate throughout the organisation; to ensure consistency of focus, to place emphasis on a participatory culture, embodied in a team-based environment, and encouraging individual innovation and creativity.

The five steps of the People CMM framework are:

Initial Level: Maturity Level 1

The Initial Level of maturity includes no process areas. Although workforce practices implemented in Maturity Level 1 organization tend to be inconsistent or ritualistic, virtually all of these organizations perform processes that are defined in the Maturity Level 2 process areas.

Typical characteristics of an organization at this level include inconsistency in performing practices, displacement of responsibility, ritualistic practices, and emotionally detached workforce

Managed Level: Maturity Level 2

To achieve the Managed Level, Maturity Level 2, managers start to perform necessary people management practices such as staffing, operating performance, and adjusting compensation as a repeatable management discipline. The organization establishes a culture focused at the unit level for ensuring that person can meet their work commitments. In achieving Maturity Level 2, the organization develops the capability to handle skills and performance at the unit level. The process areas at Maturity Level 2 are Staffing, Communication and Coordination, Work Environment, Performance Management, Training and Development, and Compensation.

Typical characteristics of an organization at this level include work overload, environmental distractions, unclear performance objectives or feedback, Lack of relevant knowledge, or skill, Poor communication, Low morale

Defined Level: Maturity Level 3

The fundamental objective of the defined level is to help an organization gain a competitive benefit from developing the different competencies that must be combined in its workforce to accomplish its business activities. These workforce competencies represent critical pillars supporting the strategic workforce competencies to current and future business objectives; the improved workforce practices implemented at Maturity Level 3 become crucial enablers of business strategy.

Although the organization is performing basic workforce practices, there is inconsistency in how these practices are performed across units and there is little synergy across the organization. The organization misses opportunities to standardize workforce practices because the common knowledge and skills needed for conducting its business activities have not been identified.

Predictable Level: Maturity Level 4

At the Predictable Level, the organization handles and exploits the capability developed by its framework of workforce competencies. The organization is now able to handle its capacity and performance quantitatively. The organization can predict its capability for performing work because it can quantify the ability of its workforce and of the competency-based methods they use performing in their assignments.

Optimizing Level: Maturity Level 5

At the Predictable Level, the organization handles and exploits the capability developed by its framework of workforce competencies. The organization is now able to handle its capacity and performance quantitatively. The organization can predict its capability for performing work because it can quantify the ability of its workforce and of the competency-based methods they use performing in their assignments.

The organization uses the results of the quantitative management activities established at Maturity Level 4 to guide improvements at Maturity Level 5. Maturity Level 5 organizations treat change management as an ordinary business process to be performed in an orderly way on a regular basis.

At Maturity Level 5, individuals are encouraged to make continuous improvements to their personal work processes by analysing their work and making necessary process enhancements. Similarly, workgroups are composed of individuals who have personalized work processes. To improve the capability of the workgroup, each person’s work processes must be integrated into an effective operating procedure for the workgroup. Improvements at the individual level should be integrated into improvements in the workgroup’s operating process.

Mentors and coaches can be provided to guide improvements at both the individual and workgroup levels. Simultaneously, the organization continually seeks methods for improving the capability of its competency-based processes.

Principles of People Capability Maturity Model

The People Capability Maturity Model describes an evolutionary improvement path from ad hoc, inconsistently performed workforce practices, to a mature infrastructure of practices for continuously elevating workforce capability. The philosophy implicit in the PCMM can be summarized in ten principles.

  • In mature organizations, workforce capability is directly related to business performance.
  • Workforce capability is a competitive issue and a source of strategic advantage.
  • Workforce capability must be defined in relation to the organization’s strategic business objectives.
  • Knowledge-intense work shifts the focus from job elements to workforce competencies.
  • Capability can be measured and improved at multiple levels, including individuals, workgroups, workforce competencies, and the organization.
  • An organization should invest in improving the capability of those workforce competencies that are critical to its core competency as a business.
  • Operational management is responsible for the capability of the workforce.
  • The improvement of workforce capability can be pursued as a process composed from proven practices and procedures.
  • The organization is responsible for providing improvement opportunities, while individuals are responsible for taking advantage of them.
  • Since technologies and organizational forms evolve rapidly, organizations must continually evolve their workforce practices and develop new workforce competencies.

Although the PCMM has been designed primarily for application in knowledge intense organizations, with appropriate tailoring it can be applied in almost any organizational setting. The PCMM’s primary objective is to improve the capability of the workforce. Workforce capability can be defined as the level of knowledge, skills, and process abilities available for performing an organization’s business activities.

Benefits of PCMM

The below are some of the benefits observed in some organizations that have implemented PCMM. The adoption of the model:

  • Drives a “systems” approach to the organization’s people related processes and initiatives
  • Promotes a long-term thinking in the organization in terms of the people
  • Builds organizational agility and ability to execute cross-functional projects
  • Increases the level of automation
  • Makes the organization more metrics and data analytics focused
  • Drives a competency culture in the organization
  • Enables handling of rapid growth and scale of the organization
  • Makes the HR function become more of a business partner
  • Transforms line managers to better people managers