Steps For Success

By J. LeRoy Ward  |  Posted 2009-06-09 Print this article Print

Better project management is critical to getting projects done on time and on budget.

In response to these overwhelming project shortfalls and failures, companies and government entities have 

•    increased oversight of IT projects,
•    established professional requirements for project managers,
•    emphasized compliance with establishing project management procedures,
•    implemented software tools.

While these actions are positive, the costs and outcomes associated with each remedial action indicate not all of them should be, or even need to be, implemented. Research from two unique sources, the PMAppraise® database and the Project Evaluation System® (PES®), strongly suggest that training on project management best practices is a solution organizations should consider to increase the probability of project success.

The PMAppraise® database, maintained by ESI International, a global project management learning company, contains knowledge and skill assessments of IT project management professionals working for large and mid-sized companies across all industry sectors located throughout the world. PES®, developed by Independent Project Analysis, Inc. (IPA), a project benchmarking company, is a methodology that measures the effectiveness of a company’s practices and procedures in planning, defining, engineering, constructing, and initiating projects.

The previously cited research by the Economist Intelligence Unit and reports of the states of Wisconsin and Texas revealed the lack of project management skills among the IT staff to be the primary obstacle to improving IT project management performance.
Training is one of the chief methods for improving a project manager’s ability to implement a successful project and should be viewed as an investment, not an expense.

According to Mary Ellen Yarossi, Director, IPA Institute, “Best practices have been shown to reduce costs by 10 percent, reduce execution and implementation time by 8 percent, and improve performance by 10 percent.  These project improvements can take a 15 percent rate of return project and turn it into a 24 percent rate of return project. That translates into a 60 percent improvement.”
The PES® database reveals that not applying proper project management techniques can result in negative outcomes in terms of significantly higher costs and substantial schedule delays.  The PES® data shows, for example, that projects with a well-defined Project Execution Plan (PEP) shorten the project duration by 14 percent while decreasing cost growth by 17 percent compared to a project with a less well-defined PEP.

The PMAppraise® results show a substandard average score for each of the project management assessment areas. Not surprisingly, the lack of project practices and techniques results in high project failure rates. Increasing a project manager’s knowledge and skills base will enable him or her to apply proven project management procedures and techniques. Undertaking this proactive, cost-saving approach can lead to a higher probability of project success.

J. LeRoy Ward, PgMP, PMP, Executive Vice President, ESI International, is responsible for ESI’s worldwide product offerings and international partnerships. Ward has authored several articles and books including Dictionary of Project Management Terms and PMP® Exam Challenge! He speaks frequently on project management and related topics at professional association meetings and conferences around the world. He is a member of numerous professional associations including the International Project Management Association and the Project Management Institute. 


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