To win a decathlon requires the extreme best from the participant. It is a very grueling and demanding set of events. The decathlete is usually very good and in fact the best in one or two events and in good standing in the other eight or nine events. The objective is to be the overall best in all ten events. Decathletes like most athletes must complete in head to head events to know if they are able to win the overall decathlon. They must study their competitors in the greatest detail and know their strengths and weakness. They must learn from the other decathletes what allows them to put out that extra 5% that means the difference between winning and just participating. They must also compete in an environment where the performance standard required to win is always becoming higher.

Being a project manager is similar to the decathlete and in the business of projects, the field is very competitive. Similar to a decathlon there are events (nine knowledge areas) in the Project Management Body of Knowledge. The decathletes in project management are the companies that are controlling costs, schedule and quality on a project level. The project-driven companies must find ways to learn "best practices" in a competitive world and apply these lessons to their processes, systems, and tools. This method of continuous improvement through measuring and comparing is referred to as benchmarking as described by Dr. Kerzner.

Nortel aspires to win the decathlon prize, but realizes it is not possible without both internal and external benchmarking measurements and continuous improvements. The internal benchmarking is similar to intramural decathlons where learning comes from watching the friendly decathletes. A significant opportunity for learning and continuous improvement occurs when the "best in class" have entered the decathlon.

Nortel has particapted in the Kerzner five-step Project Management Maturity Model survey for the last year and a half. The five steps measure the desired di rection of Nortel in reaching the point of external benchmarking and continuous improvement. Over 400 Nortel Project Managers globally have participated in step one. Step one determines if a common language is being used. Nortel is using this initial assessment as a baseline for improvements. In the fall of 2000 Nortel will confirm the improvements in step one and move to measure step 2, "common process," and step 3 "common methodology."

Dr. Kerzner has provided the measuring devices for the project management decathlon in the Maturity Model. By placing the sense of urgency around the improvement programs and remeasuring against the initial baseline, Nortel has a tangible measure of improvement and is encouraged to go on and participate in the external benchmarking order to become the best in Project Management.

Dr. Kerzner's Project Management Maturity Model is on the internal web in Nortel and the results are automatically calculated to provide the participant with an immediate score. The aggregate scores of each business unit are published monthly as a visible proof that Nortel is focused on the ideals of the five-step model (common language, process, methodology, benchmarking and continuous improvement). The model leads to a strong foundation for a world-class, project-driven company to mature and evolve.

If has often been said "that to improve, one must be prepared to measure the improvement" and "one must inspect what one expects." The Kerzner Project Management Maturity Model has provided this tangible measure of maturity. The rest is up to the company to set the expectations and to inspect the results.

Bill Marshall Nortel Global Project Process Standards

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