Project Management is Optional!?!

Oracle, the owners of Primavera have sponsored a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit of The Economist, looking at the link between project management excellence and long-term success. The report was based on a survey of 213 senior executives and project managers worldwide and in-depth interviews with nine executives and project management experts.

I have not had the chance to read the full report yet but one item in the executive summary really caught my attention. The editors state “An impressive 90% of respondents say project management is either critical (47%) or somewhat important (43%) to their ability to deliver successful projects and remain competitive.”

This statement raises two interpretational questions:

  1. What do the other 10% do? How is it possible to undertake projects and not do project management. I would have thought is was impossible to do a project without doing project management and consequently project management was critical to doing projects. More than 50% of the people interviewed disagree. And interestingly more then 50% of project fail maybe there’s a correlation?
  2. Probably a more significant question is what do the respondents to the survey mean by project management? Despite the well established standards defining project management ranging from the PMBOK® Guide to PRINCE2, do over 50% of the people responsible for project still fail to grasp the essentials??

The same survey found nearly one-half (49%) of the respondents only follow formal project management practices on large or complex projects and few (20%) use a standardised set of project management tools including enterprise-level systems. Which is consistent with Gartner’s findings that smaller project fail more frequently then lager projects.

It looks as though PMI, IPMA and academia have a lot of work to do to make project management effective in business. It would appear that whilst executives recognise the value of delivering projects on time, on budget and to the customer’s expectations very few are prepared to invest the resources needed to achieve effective project management.

This reminds me of another quote by Lister DeMarco from a few years ago: “Quality is free, but only to those that are willing to pay heavily for it!” There should be a PM equivalent somewhere…..


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