Managing successful projects using technology

In January, Wellington Project Management and the Association for Project Management surveyed more than 680 project management businesses from a range of industries, looking at topics including tools and techniques, project management maturity and project success rates. The survey results provide a fascinating insight into our customers’ expectations and the chance to evaluate our project management at TSG.

A key survey finding is that while 40% of businesses 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; this should occur at the end of the planning stage, which enables progress to be tracked. These are significant numbers and demonstrate that even across qualified, experienced project partners there is room for improvement. 

A high percentage of professional project managers undertake projects, though there are a number (45%) of projects ‘always’ or ‘mainly’ undertaken by subject matter experts who may have little or no formal training. 

When asked about their organisation’s project management training, over 33% said that training either wasn’t available or they didn’t know about its availability. This highlights a lack of investment in people and effective project 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 businesses ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’ complete a project on time (compared to 32% ‘never’ or ‘sometimes’) while 31% of businesses ‘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 businesses.

Technology and software is a great aid in managing project schedules and resources. Many businesses have implemented cloud project 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.

I found the results of this survey really interesting. Project management is a complex beast – in my previous blog post, I look at what a good Project Manager looks like. There are a number of variables that can change the scope of a project, but it’s a Project Manager or Officer’s job to forsee any potential difficulties. We never rest on our laurels at TSG, and we’re currently reviewing our Guru methodology, our customer journey on projects and the way we deliver. This survey shows us the gaps we need to close and the opportunity to improve services for our customers. Although the lions share will be taken on by the Project Management Team I believe it’s a companywide responsibility.

What are your thoughts on these results? Can your Project Management Team do any better?