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Successes and challenges - the state of project management

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The State of Project ManagementWellingtone Project Management and the APM Project Management Office (PMO) specific interest group (SIG) have published a report looking into the state of project management.

More than 680 professionals from a range of industries participated in the survey which looked at topics including project management maturity, tools and techniques, and project success rates. The survey results provide a fascinating insight into project management today. 

A key survey finding is that while 40% of respondents apply a defined methodology to projects, an alarming 25% ‘never’ or ‘sometimes’ apply a consistent methodology or prepare a standard scoping document. 

More than 34% of project schedules are not baselined, which should occur at the end of the planning stage, enabling progress to be tracked. These are significant numbers and demonstrate that even across qualified, experienced professionals there is room for improvement. 

Benefits realisation remains an important topic in the profession and organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to identify and monitor tangible project benefits. 

However, more than 45% of respondents identified this as being troublesome to embed with change control and lessons learned also highlighted as key challenges. 

Emma-Ruth Arnaz-PembertonEmma-Ruth Arnaz-Pemberton APM PMO SIG chair (pictured) said: “I see lessons learned as key for the success of any PMO and whilst not insignificant; a ‘must have’ for the PMO to be seen to be embedding a culture of continuous improvement.”

A high percentage of professional project managers undertake projects, though there are a number (25%) of projects ‘always’ or ‘mainly’ undertaken by subject matter experts (SMEs) who may have little or no formal training. 

When asked about their organisation’s training over 33% said that training either wasn’t available or they didn’t know about its availability; highlighting a worrying lack of investment in people and effective teams. 

Project success can be defined by a number of criteria and respondents were asked about performance against time, budget and benefit. 

Results show that over 40% of organisations ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’ complete a project on time (compared to 32% ‘never’ or ‘sometimes’) while 31% of organisations ‘never’ or ‘sometimes’ complete on budget, and 46% ‘never’ or ‘sometimes’ have a track record of success. 

Attempting to run too many projects, frequent changes to scope and an inconsistent approach were highlighted as the biggest challenges faced by organisations.

Technology and software is a great aid in managing project schedules and resources. Many organisations have implemented cloud solutions (more than 47% use cloud-based software) and just 20% are not expecting to increase their use of cloud computing over the next 12 months. Ease of access, increased collaboration and improved mobility were identified as the greatest benefits. 

Steve WakeSteve Wake, APM chairman (pictured) states: “In this report I see evidence with which to challenge complacency and incompetence so that things can be made better for us all. 

“I would like to live in a world where there is always a project manager on the board. It is only by participation and sponsorship of project management at board level that our full professional value will be realised.”

Download The State of Project Management




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  1. Boyko Boev
    Boyko Boev 01 August 2016, 02:43 PM

    Congratulations on the report. I shared it.