Maturity in Project Management Series: PM Maturity for Project Categories


By Russell D. Archibald

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Darci Prado

Minas Gerais, Brazil

Here we describe the need for systematically categorizing the many different types of projects that exist, discuss a few of the many possible ways to categorize them, and present a widely used project categorization approach that has proven practical for many organizations. That project categorization model has been used since 2005 in the project management (PM) maturity research conducted using the Prado PM Maturity Model in Brazil, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, and the United States.

The Need for Categorizing Projects and Programs

Significant differences exist between the many projects within:

  • The total spectrum of actual projects that exist in the worlds of government, business and industry, and
  • The smaller numbers of different kinds of projects that are being planned and executed within one organizational entity or enterprise.

Practical experience over many decades in creating and managing the many types (or categories) of projects that exist has led to:

  • Recognition that the diversity inherent within the many existing and potential projects demands that projects be segregated in several ways for several purposes, to continue to improve the ways in which both the buyers (owners) and sellers (contractors or developers) manage specific projects.
  • Recognition, definition and understanding of the project management (PM) principles and practices common to all (or at least many) projects in all types of human endeavors and organizations, as documented in the several PM bodies of knowledge and the PM literature in general.

These categorization purposes within an enterprise are to:

  • Strategically and operationally select, authorize, and prioritize their projects.
  • Operationally plan and execute their projects:
    • individually,
    • within programs, and
    • within project portfolios.
    • Measure and benchmark the maturity of the project, program, and portfolio management capabilities within organizations, and implement effective improvements in those capabilities to achieve greater project success, project value, and stakeholder satisfaction.
    • Educate and train the managers and specialists involved in projects and PM.
    • Develop and manage the careers of managers and specialists involved in creating and managing projects, the project management discipline, and its informational tools.

Methods of Project Categorization

A number of project attributes that can be used to categorize or classify projects have been identified by Crawford et al (2004), but to date there is not one method or system in use across all industries or governments. Of the many possibilities we present four different approaches here that convey some of the important characteristics of projects and programs.


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Editor’s note: The Project Management Maturity series of articles by Russell Archibald & Prof Darci Prado is based on their extensive research on this topic in Brazil, the United States and other countries.  Russ is one of the pioneers in the project management field and the originator of the Archibald Project Categorization Model.  Darci is the developer of the Prado Project Management Maturity Model which has been successfully implemented by many organizations in Brazil.  More about this model and related research can be found at http://www.maturityresearch.com/.

About the Authors

flag-usa-mexicorussell d archibaldRussell D. Archibald

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Russell D. Archibald: PhD (Hon) ESC-Lille (Fr), MSc (U of Texas) & BS (U of Missouri) Mechanical Engineering, PMP, Fellow PMI and Honorary Fellow APM/IPMA (member of the Board of IPMA/INTERNET 1974-83), held engineering and executive positions in aerospace, petroleum, telecommunications, and automotive industries in the USA, France, Mexico and Venezuela (1948-1982). Russ also had 9 years of active duty as a pilot officer with the U.S. Army Air Corps (1943-46) and as a Senior Pilot and Project Engineer with the U. S. Air Force (1951-58.) Since 1982 he has consulted to companies, agencies and development banks in 16 countries on 4 continents, and has taught project management principles and practices to thousands of managers and specialists around the world. He is co-author (with Shane Archibald) of Leading and Managing Innovation: What Every Executive Team Must Know About Project, Program, and Portfolio Management (2013); author of Managing High-Technology Programs and Projects (3rd Edition 2003), also published in Russian, Italian, and Chinese; other books (in English, Italian, Japanese, and Hungarian); and many papers on project management. Web-site: http://russarchibald.com  E-mail: [email protected]   

To see other works by Russ Archibald, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/russell-d-archibald/

flag-brazilpmwj18-jan2014-archibald-PHOTO PRADODarci Prado, PhD 

Minas Gerais, Brazil 

Darci Prado is a consultant and partner of INDG in Brazil. He is an engineer, with graduate studies in Economical Engineering at UCMG and PhD in Project Management from UNICAMP, Brazil. He has worked for IBM for 25 years and with UFMG Engineering School for 32 years. He holds the IPMA Level B Certification. He was one of the founders of Minas Gerais State and Parana State PMI chapters, and he was member of Board Directors of Minas Gerais State PMI chapter during 1998-2002 and member of the Consulting Board during 2003-2009. He was also the president of IPMA Minas Gerais State chapter during 2006-2008. He is conducting a Project Management maturity research in Brazil, Italy, Spain and Portugal together with Russell Archibald. He is author of nine books on project management and is also author of a methodology, a software application, and a maturity model for project management.  Darci can be contacted at [email protected].

To see other works by Darcy Prado, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/darci-prado-phd/