Successful projects are more common than failures, but when a large-scale initiative truly goes off the rails, there are considerable costs—human and financial—that can stagger an organization for years.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) says, on average, 64% of projects in corporations and government agencies are successful—completed on time and on budget and meeting defined goals— but high-performing organizations have a success rate of 80% or higher.
In a recent survey of 2,800 project leaders and practitioners across the globe, PMI found that the highest performing organizations utilize six key principles for project management success:
- Fully understanding the value of project management
- Actively engaging executive sponsors
- Aligning projects to strategy
- Developing and maintaining project management talent
- Establishing a well-aligned and effective PMO
- Using standardized project management practices throughout the organization
Active executive sponsors are critical to what PMI calls a “culture of project management.” Their survey found that 81% of high performers have active sponsors compared to 45% at low performers.
Agile Process and PM trends
The report also outlined trends in project management that are being adopted with greater frequency by high-performing organizations. These include:
- Greater knowledge transfer effectiveness
- More rigorous use of risk management practices
- More frequent use of agile/incremental /iterative project management processes
- Higher benefits realization maturity (e.g. outcomes measurement)
The importance of knowledge transfer— the act of capturing and sharing lessons learned between employees—is a critical competence. PMI’s research shows that having a formal knowledge transfer process significantly improves project outcomes: 75% of high-performing organizations have an established knowledge transfer system in place compared to just 35% of low performers.
Investment is required by organizations to build successful project management teams and processes, but the payoff can be significant. “The projects of high-performing organizations successfully meet goals two-and-a-half times more often, and these organizations waste 13 times less money than their low-performing counterparts,” according to PMI President Mark Langley.
Originally published May 2015; Updated May 2019