Project ManagementProject Management OfficeProject Portfolio Management

Pulse of the Profession 2017: Good News for Project Managers

Only 27 percent of organizations have low project management maturity anymore, according to data surveyed from 3,234 global professionals in PMI’s 2017 Pulse of the Profession. A not so bad 39 percent have low portfolio management majority. At last, organizations are waking up to the financial and strategic benefits of mature management, as “Organizations that invest in proven project management practices waste 28 times less money.”

The organizations that PMI considers to be real “champions” are organizations with “80 percent or more of projects being completed on time and on budget, and meeting original goals and business intent—and having high benefits realization maturity.” The progress being seen by them and other businesses is likely due to many factors, but PMI provides insight into what the champions are investing in to continue to progress:

  1. Talent: develop technical and leadership skills
  2. Benefits: pay attention to benefits realization management (BRM), which involves identifying benefits early and taking intentional actions during implementation to ensure the benefits are realized, managed, and sustained
  3. PMOs and EPMOs: execute a project management office (PMO), and/or an enterprise project management office (EPMO) that aligns strategically with the organization and provides management over multiple PMOs
  4. Executive sponsorship: actively engage executive sponsors to drive projects and meet original goals set out
  5. Agile: embrace agile as a technique for managing projects

Reshape Traditional Thinking

Organizations need to embrace project management as a strategic competency for success. When they have a clear mission, they are able to add value, advance strategies, and increase competitive advantage to their own business. Talent is the top deciding factor to give organizations a competitive advantage to navigate through necessary change. Champions nowadays prioritize technical skills, leadership skills, and strategic and business management skills.

BRM is the runner-up in urging an organization to reach an overarching strategy by aligning projects, programs, and portfolios. Fortunately, 31 percent of respondents report high benefits realization maturity. Although there is no single widely accepted BRM model, organizations can establish procedures for themselves to identify benefits, and monitor progress in achieving them. PMOs and EPMOs are playing vital roles as an effective “assistant” to BRM. Notably, half of organizations with a PMO also have an EPMO, and aligned EPMOs reduce project failure by 33 percent. PMOs and EPMOs help establish procedures for identifying benefits, and monitoring progress throughout the project life cycle and beyond.

A project can hardly be implemented and succeed quickly without a hand from executive sponsors. These people have detailed knowledge of a project, and how it connects to business strategy, and can use their influence to clear roadblocks. Equally important is the growing need of agile approaches in project management.  Seventy-one percent of organizations report using agile approaches for their projects sometimes, often, or always. Having a keen focus on using agile approaches for projects helps managers detect technological trends and adapt to customer needs.

PMI looks ahead and talks about the vision for the future:

The positive results of this year’s Pulse of the Profession suggest that more organizations recognize the strategic value of projects and programs—and that how well they support these strategic initiatives and the  professionals  who  manage  them  matters  to  their  long-term  relevancy  and  ultimate  viability.  The  growing  focus  on  talent  management,  executive  sponsorship,  and  benefits  realization  management,  in  particular, shows that organizations are recognizing the connection between project implementation and business success.

At the same time, organizations are searching for ways to be more agile, customer focused, and competitive. A large majority of organizations report greater agility over the last five years. More than half attribute the improvement to critical change factors, such as the need to innovate, a leadership mandate, and shifting customer demands. Nearly half also credit their greater agility to the enhanced skills and experience of project managers.

You can view the full report here:

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