Only 36% of projects deliver expected benefits, under 25% have access to PPM software

These were just two of the many significant findings reported in the latest State of Project Management Survey, the largest annual non-salary focused survey in the UK, carried out by Wellingtone Project Management and with contributions from the Association of Project Management (APM), Project Management Office (PMO), Specific Interests Group (SIG) and the APM Systems Thinking Group SIG. 

Ongoing industry growth
Conducted among PMs working across all industries during Q4 2017, the survey highlighted that the last five years have seen a year on year growth in the number of PMOs, especially, in percentage terms, within organisations with over 5,000 employees. In spite of this continued growth, many do not have the foundations for success – a clear governance process, effective business processes, access to the relevant data, ability to collaborate across functions and business units and a lack of the appropriate enterprise PPM software to enable success.  

Third of PMs without professional education
Although the emphasis on professionalism and the importance of professional qualifications has increased, many PMOs continue to operate without these foundations. This is also a frequently cited reason behind project failure.  30% of respondents did not have PRINCE2 for example and a surprisingly large number of the industry had no other professional qualifications. 

Over 50% dissatisfied with their PM maturity and aware of shortcomings
The PM maturity level of an organisation can be assessed by interplay of desired practices leading to a project’s successful completion. 56% of respondents in this survey said they were dissatisfied with their PMOs current level of maturity, a figure 45% higher than in 2016. This upward trend demonstrates both a wider knowledge of optimum practice and definite awareness of scope for improvement. 

Absence of key project activities
Many respondents revealed the absence of 3 key project activities in their organizations – namely, delivery of a scoping document or risk management strategy, and operation of stakeholder engagement during a project. Linked to lack of practices which in turn lead to a high maturity level, the survey results showed that only 40% of projects were delivered on time and only 36% delivered full benefits.

Low levels of PPM software usage
Less than a quarter of PMs (22%) had access to appropriate PPM software and reported that a lack of software tools was a difficulty they need to overcome, because the availability of this software could be leveraged upon to improve project delivery success rates. 

4 key concerns mirrored the level of implementation difficulty 
52% of respondents had 4 primary concerns - embedding of benefits realization; ability to benefit from lessons learned; implementation of adequate change controls and risk management. They reported frustrations in attempting to deliver these within the PMO and categorized them as the most difficult to implement. At the same time, they acknowledged, their importance as an aid to delivering a successful and timely project, in particular with respect to benefits realization.  SMART focused (specific, measurable, realistic and time bound) benefits realization involves the identification, planning, measurement and tracking of all benefits, from the start of project investment until the realization of successful delivery. 

ProjectObjects Extended Project & Portfolio Management solution is a robust, flexible platform, offering a broad range of functionality to help deliver projects on time and within budget. Using ProjectObjects, PMOs can update and analyze their project portfolios for continuous improvement, plus adjust time frames and budgets in real time, from any device. ‘Extended’ PPM means that companies can manage more than just the typical cost and control elements of projects.  They can now manage a number of ‘objects’ including benefits, risks, documents, lessons learned and much more.  Ongoing use of ProjectObjects supports increased stakeholder engagement and the alignment of strategy with day to day operational activities.

Overall trends

The results of the 2018 Wellingtone Project Management Survey illustrate a clear correlation between professional education, PMO maturity and access to PPM software, with an organization’s ability to deliver projects successfully. Until more companies are aware of these three foundations for success, making greater progress towards seeing full realization of a project’s benefits will remain difficult to achieve.