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The Organizational Project Management Maturity Model or OPM3® is a globally recognized best-practice standard for assessing and developing capabilities in Portfolio Management, Program Management, and Project Management. It is published by the Project Management Institute (PMI). OPM3 provides a method for organizations to understand their Organizational Project Management processes and measure their capabilities in preparation for improvement. OPM3 then helps organizations develop the roadmap that the company will follow to improve performance. The Second Edition (2008) was recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as an American National Standard (ANSI/PMI 08-004-2008). The Third Edition was published in 2013.


In 1998, PMI chartered the OPM3 Program to develop an Organizational Project Management Maturity Model to be a global standard for Organizational Project Management (OPM). During development, a team of volunteers analyzed twenty-seven existing models and deployed surveys repeatedly to 30,000 practitioners. The concept of maturity model had been popularized through the Capability Maturity Model or CMM for software development that was created by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) of Carnegie Mellon University between 1986 and 1993. The volunteer OPM3 model review team reviewed CMM and other models to understand the scope of each model, capabilities of each model, methodology for conducting assessments against each model, each model's structure, and each model's implementation procedures. The analysis concluded that existing models left many important questions about Organizational Project Management (OPM) maturity unanswered and that the team should proceed with the development of an original model through the sponsorship of PMI.

The project team used a brainstorming technique to facilitate the identification of elements of Organizational Project Management (OPM) in such a way that no single person could dominate the process. Participants were invited to suggest elements that constituted maturity in OPM. Such elements were refined as testable capability statements, consolidated, and eventually organized into groups called OPM3 best practices. Each OPM3 best practice statement denotes a group of OPM3 capability statements. OPM3 capabilities are the testable statements of the OPM3 standard (not the OPM3 best practices) and this distinction has led to the development of different kinds of products (described below under Controversy). To ensure alignment to PMI's A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge standard, processes from this PMI standard were incorporated in the first edition of OPM3 (see Contents below) published in December 2003.

Upon release of OPM3, the user community expressed interest in the development of supporting products and services for companies that were adopting the model. PMI responded by developing OPM3 Online, a web-based database that allows users to search OPM3 best practices, conduct rudimentary assessments against the model, and serve as a reference when implementing improvements. Shortly thereafter, PMI also created the OPM3 ProductSuite, a set of certifications and software tools that enable service providers with more powerful diagnostic and improvement tools.[1]

Following PMI's standard development lifecycle, the OPM3 Second Edition was published in December 2008 to update the standard based on experience in the field and align it with other PMI standards. The Second Edition was subsequently superseded by the Third Edition in 2013 to align with the Fifth Edition of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, the Third Edition of the Standard for Program Management, and the Third Edition of the Standard for Portfolio Management. PMI standards, including OPM3, are also ANSI standards.


OPM3 covers the domains of Organizational Project Management, the systematic management of projects, programs, and portfolios in alignment with the achievement of strategic goals.Organizational Project Management The domains are Project Management, Program Management and Portfolio Management. OPM3 uniquely integrates these three domains and analysis of an additional 17 organizational enablers into one maturity model.

OPM3 offers the key to Organizational Project Management (OPM) with three interlocking elements:

  • Knowledge - Learn about hundreds of Organizational Project Management (OPM) Best Practices.
  • Assessment - Evaluate an organization’s current capabilities and identify areas in need of improvement.
  • Improvement - Use the completed assessment to map out the steps needed to achieve performance improvement goals.

As with other PMI standards, OPM3’s intent is not to be prescriptive by telling the user what improvements to make or how to make them. Rather, OPM3 provides guidelines regarding the kinds of things an organization may do in order to achieve excellence in Organizational Project Management. Consultants who are certified by PMI in OPM3 ProductSuite are trained to help organizations to identify and choose among improvement options based on strategic priorities, benefits, costs, technical prerequisites, and other factors.[2]


OPM3 is designed to provide a wide range of benefits to organizations, senior management, and those engaged in project management activities. Some of the benefits derived from using OPM3 are as follows:

  • Strengthens the link between strategic planning and execution, so project outcomes are predictable, reliable, consistent, and correlate with organizational success.
  • Identifies the best practices which support the implementation of organizational strategy through successful projects.
  • Identifies the specific capabilities which make up the Best Practices, and the dependencies among those Capabilities and Best Practices.


Criticism of a software tool called "OPM3 Online" has been growing steadily since its release among users who report that it is a superficial survey, that it does not collect the information necessary for an organization to implement OPM3, that it produces erroneous results, and that in the long run these facts will destroy OPM3.

The OPM3 standard should be implemented in a lifecycle of 1) assessment, 2) improvement, and 3) reassessment. These three steps are necessary in order to orchestrate actual improvements and demonstrate successful change. If this is not done, then implementation of OPM3 will likely fail, and as failures accumulate in the marketplace the OPM3 brand could become degraded.

Most of the user community agrees that OPM3 Online is inferior to the other dominant software tool for implementing OPM3, called "OPM3 ProductSuite." This is because OPM3 Online focuses only on step one of the three stages and, more importantly, does not enable steps two and three to occur because it requires step one to be performed generically and without specific guidance regarding the current-state capabilities of an organization. By contrast, OPM3 ProductSuite enables all three stages to occur through the use of PMI Certified OPM3 Professionals. A directory of current PMI Certified OPM3 Professionals may be found on PMI's OPM3 Professional Services Registry.

PMI continues to promote OPM3 Online because it is a revenue stream directly to PMI with a price-point lower than OPM3 ProductSuite, enabling PMI to undercut or cannibalize OPM3 ProductSuite. It appears to be a strategy on PMI's part to focus on acquiring new users of OPM3 Online instead of enabling organizations implementing the OPM3 Standard to increase their capability and maturity.

Specifically, critics say that OPM3 Online does not reflect the OPM3 Standard because it does not articulate assessment questions in terms of the testable OPM3 capability statements that comprise the majority of the OPM3 Standard, and in order to increase maturity the capability statements must be assessed. Remarkably OPM3 Online excludes 72% of the OPM3 Standard; therefore the name "OPM3 Online" (which implies an online version of the OPM Standard) is literally a misnomer.

Users of OPM3 Online cannot determine the actual capabilities, outcomes, and best practices of an organization and corresponding improvement options per the OPM3 standard. Therefore the assessment result or score from OPM3 Online is not actionable. By contrast, more organizations are recognizing that OPM3 ProductSuite is a more robust and reliable maturity assessment tool that functions at the testable OPM3 capability statement level, enabling the identification of specific improvement options that correspond to the OPM3 standard.[3] Only consultants who are certified by the Project Management Institute and who pay license and maintenance fees to PMI may use OPM3 ProductSuite.

In 2010 PMI withdrew OPM3 Online from PMI Market Place and began to distribute licenses to the general public through registered certified OPM3® Professionals, transferring risk to the OPM3® Professionals.

And then in 2014, PMI retired the whole OPM3 program, including the ProducSuite tool and the certificate itself. This raised huge adverse reaction and criticism to PMI decision specially among the community of certified professionals who faced business impacts due to PMI decisions, and launched a petition calling for subjecting PMI to audit as well as withdrawing trust from the executive team and management board responsible for such decisions.


Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3®) — Third Edition, 2013, Project Management Institute