PMI Pulse of the Profession

The PMI have recently published the 2018 edition of the ‘Pulse of the Profession’. I would commend it to anyone associated with project, programme and portfolio management.

Some interesting extracts:

The main chart that I always delve into is how project delivery performance is improving. I find it fascinating that despite the wide range of initiatives across our profession, delivery performance has changed very little over the last 8 years. Performance has generally flatlined with the exception of the number of projects that experience scope creep. Is it acceptable that around half of all projects are completed on time and around half are completed within the original budget (numbers aren’t provided for projects which were completed on time and to budget, but it will be <50%)? In an environment of constant change is scope creep something that we should be avoiding or learning how to live with – I don’t believe that this metric should be on the same chart because it doesn’t necessarily show degrading performance.

If we look at the figures on construction project management from the Office for National Statistics it is evident that there is a significant challenge that we need to grapple with. The Institute of Civil Engineers has established an initiative called Project 13 which is seeking to try and improve performance within the construction industry, but sadly it isn’t clear where the focal point for change is within the P3M profession.

I also found the following chart interesting. It illustrates the challenges that organisations are having with leveraging the lessons from successful and failed strategy implementation and the extent to which this could have a impact on competitiveness. If organisations placed hard metrics on this analysis I fear that the current situation would be far worse than has been reported. I have been unable to identify many organisations who successfully feedback the lessons from strategy implementation, which includes project delivery, into the formulation of future strategy. The evidence suggests that organisations keep on falling down the same holes.

It is also worth noting the emphasis that the report places on being adaptive to the disruptive nature of the project delivery environment.

The organisational glue.  This not only requires project managers to equip themselves with new skills but to change their mindset on how projects are delivered. The project manager provides the organisational glue that pulls together the various strands of delivery and they need to have a thorough grasp of the extent to which this strands are operating cohesively. The project manager’s job isn’t to deliver the project, but to ensure that the project is adapting to the business conditions and constraints in which it is delivered. The challenges of Brexit, march of AI and a wide range of other disruptive factors mean that it will become increasingly difficult for projects to be delivered using a turnkey approach. The challenge for our profession will be how we leverage the experience of the past to help guide our way through a turbulent future, ensuring that the experience provides clarity and insights rather than reasons not to act.

Executive Sponsors.  It is also interesting to see the emphasis that the PMI place on the effectiveness of executive sponsors. Many organisations use executive sponsors as a figurehead for project delivery, but they often don’t have the skills, capacity or experience to become actively involved in delivery. I agree with the PMI’s focus on training and development where organisations have significant investments in a pipeline of projects, but many organisations share the burden of project oversight and sponsorship across members of the Board, Is it sensible to try and retrain the finance director in the intricacies of project delivery or to provide them with the support and insights that they need when they need them? A balance needs to be struck. They need to be able to identify areas of focus and the potential implications of decisions before decisions are taken. Insights that are focused on the rich seam of experience that has gone before, tempered against the changing nature of the project circumstances.

It is a fascinating report and I would recommend that you examine it further if you get the opportunity to do so.