Key to Project Management Puzzle May Lie in Looking beyond the Traditional

Article excerpt

BYLINE: Dennis Comninos

Today's business leaders are under increasing pressure to perform and deliver on business commitments to boards, shareholders and customers. A big part of achieving these commitments rests with an organisation's ability to maximise the full potential of its projects.

This is according to the latest KPMG Global IT Project Management Survey, which explores trends in programme and project management. It is one of the largest surveys of its kind, with more than 600 organisations in 22 countries participating.

According to the study, though, despite the pivotal importance of reaping the full potential of projects, many organisations are struggling to do so.

For example, 49% of participants had experienced at least one project failure, while only 2% of organisations achieved targeted benefits all the time - benefits are an intended or unintended positive outcome for key stakeholders/shareholders. Value, in turn, is derived from sustainable benefit over time.

Eighty-six percent of organisations lost up to 25% of target benefits across their entire project portfolio.

The report continues that "many (companies) do not even try to measure the value. It means that significant value is being lost since many organisations either do not, or are incapable of, adequately assessing the degree of commitments kept".

The research refers to this as "benefits leakage".

Why is it then that many organisations are experiencing these benefit losses in projects despite their best intentions? Much of the problem lies in the traditional way in which projects are crafted, implemented and measured.

For example, project management has traditionally focused on linear processes and procedures, and been defined by on-time and on-budget measures. In addition, project management has traditionally relied on technology and a niche approach.

Increasing pressures today, however, are effecting changes in the discipline of project management. The factors adding complexity to the business environment include globalisation, an increase in mergers and acquisitions, more stringent accountability and governance requirements, employee empowerment, and the need to manage change and risk.

And it is in this critical area of delivering benefits and value that organisations are now adopting new practices - in essence the definition of success is evolving.

While project success was defined traditionally by on-time and on-budget measures, the definition of success now is meeting promised project benefits - in other words, keeping commitments. …