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PwC PPM Global Survey: 'Insights and Trends into Current Project, Programme and Portfolio Management'

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PwC kindly hosted the Governance SIG event on 12 February – thanks again go to James Lowe and his colleagues for organising, facilitating and providing great facilities – and to Michael Cooch for an excellent presentation. It was really good to see the positive engagement we’ve had with PwC over the past year or two continue to develop. 

PwC carry out a bi-annual survey on the current state of project management.  PwC’s Third Global Survey contained 146 questions focused on project performance indicators with 1,524 respondents across 38 countries and 30 industry sectors. The objectives were to assess project, programme and portfolio management correlation to organisational success; review current trends in project, programme and portfolio management; and identify organisational gaps in these areas with a focus on areas for improvement.

In his presentation, Michael highlighted the key six insights concerning governance out of this study, which dates back to early 2012:

1. Misalignment of ‘Run the business’ and ‘Change the business’- results in ‘wastage’ of resources.  However There is an emerging trend towards strategic portfolio management functions

2. Portfolio Management is a competitive differentiator

3. Fit-for-purpose governance strongly influences project and programme success – organisations have not mastered the ability to design it effectively resulting in it being cited as a top contributor to programme and project failure.  Business resources still do not see or feel the benefit of working on change programmes (often on top of their ‘day job’) resulting in a lack of motivation

4. Higher performance is correlated with higher maturity but there is a pronounced disconnect between ‘self-diagnosed’ programme and project management maturity and the reality (as measured by industry CMMI/PMI methods)

5. Project and programme delivery performance is not improving.  However some lower margin, industries (e.g. construction) are statistically better at delivery than others (e.g. banking) where margins are typically higher

6. People, tools and methodology are under-utilised. These provide ‘low hanging fruit’ for improving programme and project execution through training, standardisation and automation.

Having spoken around these key findings and some of the related conclusions, Michael took questions from the audience, before the event split into groups to consider and challenge some of the major conclusions, in relation to the experiences of those in attendance. The outputs of the group sessions are summarised here.

Outputs  diagram taken from post event analysis work conducted by PwC

The results of the PwC survey support the concept that good governance is the core requirement to improve project outcomes and success.  Organisations should adopt the principles in Directing Change, the APM GovSIG guidance on governance of project management.  The PwC research specifically aligns with the following principles:

1 - The board has overall responsibility for the governance of project management {and establishing a commercial portfolio that best meets the organisation’s strategic objectives}

2 - The organisation differentiates between projects and non project-based activities {and puts in place governance and management approaches that best meet their different requirements

3 - Roles and responsibilities for the governance of project management are defined clearly.

4 - Disciplined governance arrangements, supported by appropriate methods, resources and controls are applied throughout the project life cycle. Every project has a sponsor

5 - There is a demonstrably coherent and supporting relationship between the overall business strategy and the project portfolio {effective portfolio direction and management)

7 - Members of delegated authorisation bodies have sufficient representation, competence, authority and resources to enable them to make appropriate decisions.

8 - Project business cases are supported by relevant and realistic information that provides a reliable basis for making authorisation decisions.

9 The board or its delegated agents decide when independent scrutiny of projects or project management systems is required and implement such assurance accordingly.

10 - There are clearly defined criteria for reporting project status and for the escalation of risks and issues to the levels required by the organisation.

11 - The organisation fosters a culture of improvement and of frank internal disclosure of project management information.

The current environment is already highly pressurised with indications that more challenges are ahead. Positioning for organisations is critical i.e. Definition of strategy and the change necessary to achieve it using sound project, programme and portfolio management principles is even more compelling.

However there are lessons that the GovSIG will take on board regarding Directing Change for example organisations don’t always know what ‘fit for purpose governance’ should look like when it’s done well.  The SIG needs to do more to help to educate and advice boards on this point. 

Amongst the conclusions of PwC’s 3rd Global PPPM Survey, were the following seven things organisations should do tomorrow to become more mature are:

1. Undertake unambiguous definition of organisational objectives, derived from strategy, which can be quantified. Projects should then clearly state how they will align and drive achievement of those objectives

2. Focus more on the interaction between Running the Business (RTB) and Changing the Business (CTB). Ensure resources who do both activities have clearly defined performance criteria to ensure motivations are aligned to the right outcomes and they employ the appropriate management approaches

3. Assess the number/size/impact of cross divisional projects and consider designing an Enterprise Portfolio Management function if significant

4. Ensure project sponsors and stakeholders are actively engaged throughout the individual project lifecycle

5. Embed formalised portfolio and programme maturity assessments, as standard, to identify ongoing opportunities for improvement and maturity improvement, e.g,. every 6 months

6. Consider, if not already in place: 

  • a formalised PM training curriculum
  • enterprise PM software
  • creation of a standardised / consistent delivery methodology (including estimating tools)

7. Hire proven PM talent (with a strong track record) to drive delivery excellence.  Not just in project delivery roles  but in other roles, e.g project sponsor.

Martin Samphire (APM) and James Lowe (PwC)



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