The State of Project Management Report 2019 is the annual health check for our industry, not just in the UK but internationally. This leading piece of research has provided a benchmark for us all since 2016. Anonymised data is shared with University College London to further their Masters and PhD research into project management.

The 2019 Report was published at the end of February but let’s take a first look at some of the key data. Firstly, a big thank you to the 154 organisations that took part. The PPM Practitioners that contributed tend to be very experienced (84.7% + 5 years’ experience), with two thirds in a full time employed role at a large organisation (75% + 250 employees). 70% have achieved the PRINCE2 qualification and 30% Managing Successful Programmes.

Of those that took part over 53% are currently not satisfied with the level of project management maturity in their organisation. This shows a slight improvement over the last three years where the downward trend peaked at 56% last year.

And the most common challenges? “Poorly trained Project Managers” again comes up as number 1, followed by “resource management” and “attempting to run too many projects”. This follows a common theme for the last few years but with resource management gaining much higher ranking than last year where it was placed 8th.

We will be publishing a great deal of data about the PMO, the scope of services and their challenges as part of the final report. If you do work in a PMO you’ll be pleased to hear you are not alone with 83% of organisations having at least one. 61% of PMO Practitioners see the scope of their remit increasing in the future, but with only 43% seeing a headcount increase it suggests a need to work smarter & more efficiently.

Where can we make these efficiency gains? Well, approximately 25% of respondents currently spend 2 or more days a month manually collating project reports. This looks like an obvious area for efficiency improvements and with only 1/3rd saying their organisation had access to real time KPIs there is clearly much room for improvement.

In terms of project performance, how do you compare?

  • Projects are mostly or always completed on time: 34%
  • Projects completed mostly or always on budget: 40%
  • Projects deliver full benefits mostly or always: 37%

These numbers have been pretty consistent for several years, showing the challenges we all face in running successful projects. It is a regular source of concern that even amongst PPM Practitioners our performance has got such room for improvement. In talking to so many practitioners I do feel that one of the main causes of project delay isn’t the project itself or the technical challenges faced by the project team, but more the availability of resource to work on that project in a timely manner.

Each project is assessed and approved in isolation with the wider recognition of the scale of work being approved is lacking. At the Portfolio level there isn’t enough done to assess total resource demand versus availability, with projects therefore being left under resourced, leading to delay and lack of quality (& therefore missing benefit goals). The data supports this with “resource management” and “too many projects” both listed in the top 3 challenges. My call to action for organisations is to engage in much deeper portfolio analysis. Let’s run 10 projects well, rather than 15 projects badly.