The Project Management Institute’s latest “Pulse of the Profession” has indicated that the future is looking bright for the world of project management.
The annual global survey of 3,200 project management professionals, including 510 PMO directors, uncovered some key trends. The highlights included a more robust level of executive sponsorship, higher Agile adoption, and a consistent emphasis on training and development.
The key trend, which is also the most encouraging, was noted by the PMI President and CEO, Mark Langley – “for the first time in the last five years of this research, we see that more projects are meeting original goals and being completed within budget.”
Positive news indeed. Below we explore the details in depth.
Agile adoption is strong
71 percent of those who took the survey said they use Agile approaches “sometimes, often or always”. Only 12% answered “never.” A similar question in the 2015 survey found 15% of respondents “never” used Agile, so this is an improvement.
The survey also uncovered that being Agile is not just a methodology. The focus is on the customer, innovation and being “little A” agile.
The PMO is crucial in offering guidance and help with agile implementation for many organisations.
“The PMO, especially as it evolves into a stronger driver of strategy, could be a beacon for other operational and functional areas that could be impacted by new approaches to managing projects,” the survey said.
Transformation still necessary
The pace of change, specifically speed as the critical component, was another central theme within the survey.
Based on the survey results, the PMI derived that “organisation leaders are adjusting their strategies in response to business disruptions. For many, it is ‘do or die.’ To stay relevant in the marketplace, executives recognise they need to lead the transformation, not just follow.”
This echoes what our experts see on the ground everyday — new technologies dissolving formerly high barriers to entry, teams and leaders struggling to part with old ways of working, and nascent transformations in need of extra support.
Transformations don’t have to represent times of extreme difficulty. Transformations offer opportunity. The PMI report urged the adoption of an entire culture around innovation and, ultimately – learning. Of the respondents, 41% said their projects were of “high complexity” vs. 23% of low complexity.
The growth in executive sponsorship was one of the most promising discoveries. The latest survey found 62% of projects carried “actively engaged” executive sponsors, compared to 59% in the previous survey.
There were some lowlights
Not all was positive. Projects are still failing, even those categorised as ‘strategic’.
“Compared to last year, the executive leaders in our survey this year classify more of their organisation’s projects as ‘strategic initiatives’ (50% versus 38% in 2016). Yet, one in four (28%) of those strategic initiatives failed outright,” the survey said.
That’s a surprising rate of failure for something promoted as “strategic” within the business, which should mean both significant and valuable. What causes these failures? A lack of “clearly defined objectives and milestones to measure progress” followed closely by “lack of communication.”
While there were numerous predictions and recommendations drawn from the survey, the most significant would be the focus on benefits realisation management (BRM).
The survey described it as “a powerful way to align projects, programs, and portfolios to an organisation’s overarching strategy”, but also a discipline that lacks one accepted process.
The ‘champions’ in the survey are the companies that measure the benefits accrued from the project for the wider organisation. There are also the ‘elite’ organisations, whose project work is already on a higher level.
About one-third of organisations in the report say they’ve reached high benefits realisation maturity, a metric that will no doubt be closely watched in years to come.
In all, the survey balanced a compelling optimism around the future of project management and a clear-eyed understanding of what still needs to be done.
If you are on your transformation journey or about to embark on one – speak to us to find out how we can assist +65 6818 5771.