Are you living on the right side of time?

In today's recovery, there is more pressure than ever on organisations to complete projects. Looking at why businesses need to make fundamental changes to project management processes is the first priority

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A new study by the International Project Management Association (IPMA) has just revealed that an overwhelming number of CEOs and project managers have very little confidence in their ability to manage projects efficiently, despite the fact that they view project management as crucial to business success and growth.

The study highlighted that:
– Nearly three quarters (72 percent) of CEOs/ COOs and project managers identify the ability to manage projects as critical or absolutely critical to the future growth of the business;

– Despite this, just 11 percent of CEOs/COOs and project managers are very confident of their ability to manage business critical projects in the most efficient way;

– Only one quarter (25 percent) of businesses surveyed have fully integrated IT systems for project management and just 12 percent of all businesses are very confident they have full visibility of information to run projects effectively despite identifying IT integration and real time data as priorities for project control.

The scale, complexity and size of projects will vary hugely from business to business, but the majority of companies rely on effective project delivery for revenue growth. All businesses are made up of a collection of projects and the delivery of these projects is usually based upon on a collection of processes. Talking to customers and prospects daily, their one recurring problem is that the tools used to manage their most critical projects and processes are more often than not functionally driven with each business unit supported by a different application, resulting in a lack of integrated systems with project information being stored in numerous, siloed locations.

This worrying lack of information transparency and clarity across an organisation poses significant restrictions to a businesses potential. In a world readying for recovery, there is no doubt that it will be the global organisations that can run their mission-critical projects consistently and more efficiently that will be best prepared for a return to growth, gaining significant competitive advantage in the process. Some companies have reported positive financial results during tough economic conditions, however if you scratch beneath the surface, much of this is due to cost cutting rather than real growth. The cost cutting measures that have supplemented balance-sheets over the past year are unsustainable in the long-term and to achieve tangible growth consistently, organisations need to embrace what we call a new mindset for Sustainable Efficiency, ensuring they have the systems and processes to manage their most business critical projects more effectively, all of the time.

Researching project management
IFS is working in partnership with the International Project Management Association (IPMA) to explore the theme of ìSustainable Efficiencyî further and recently conducted research to determine how global organisations are managing their most business-critical projects. The research surveyed 273 respondents across the US, UK, Australia, Scandinavia and Benelux, comprising 49 percent CEOs and COOs and 51 percent project managers ñ giving a balanced perspective from both those running the company and those at the coalface of project delivery. Respondents surveyed were from energy/utilities, telecom, oil and gas, construction and manufacturing sectors.

Lacking confidence in project management
The research uncovered that whilst the vast majority (72 percent) of CEOs/COOs and project managers consider the ability to manage projects as critical or absolutely critical to the future growth of their business, confidence amongst the same set of executive business leaders and their project management experts to efficiently manage their crucial business projects is alarmingly low.

Only 11 percent of CEOs/COOs and project managers are very confident of their ability to manage business critical projects in the most efficient way. Confidence levels decreased even further amongst European respondents compared to their global counterparts with only seven percent of organisations from Benelux and a staggering two percent from Scandinavia stating that they were very confident about project management efficiency. This is worrying when you consider the stated importance of project management in relation to company growth.

The research also recognises that as a result of the economic downturn there is now unparalleled pressure on all organisations to complete projects faster, more efficiently and for less cost. When questioned about post-recessional pressures on project management, 65 percent of executives and project managers agree or strongly agree that customers expect projects to be delivered faster, 60 percent state that margins made on projects have decreased and importantly that customers expect to be able to negotiate costs and prices during existing contracts. A total of 57 percent agree they now have fewer personnel resources available to deliver the projects and 53 percent said that they are increasingly asked to deliver one-off, unique specification projects for customers.

Respondents were also asked to identify the top factors for consistent and efficient project management. Both the C-level executives and project managers agreed the most important factors are resource planning (55 percent), integrated IT systems (52 percent), access to real-time data (47 percent), personnel and skills (39 percent) and effective supply chain management (36 percent). These results mirrored what organisationís are prioritising in terms of investment in IT and project-based solutions. A total of 49 percent stated integration of IT as the top priority followed by access to real-time data (40 percent) and resource planning (37 percent).

IT integration required
Interestingly, despite being highlighted as an investment priority as well as being seen as crucial to business success, only one quarter of organisations have fully integrated Enterprise IT systems for project management, which is perhaps why only 12 percent of all respondents are very confident that they have full visibility of all the necessary information to effectively run business critical projects.

The face of project management is changing rapidly and as this new research reveals, it is imperative that all organisations, not just those involved in large-scale global projects, assess their business strategies and processes to increase efficiencies that meet new customer and economic demands. Change is the nature of projects and as customers continue to place greater pressure on businesses to adapt to their requirements, this need for agility must be supported by the right project-based systems and processes. The fact that 66 percent said that business software tools have become even more important to their ability to run projects, serves to justify this point.

Seeking a holistic view of project data
Organisations’ supply chains across the world remain under the spotlight and are constantly scrutinised to ensure they compete on a global level. We are operating in a far more complex marketplace as a result of globalisation, handling more sub-contracts and outsourcing contracts, transacting across a wider variety of channels and delivering to an increasingly diverse and international project-driven customer base. As a CEO, if you don’t have access to a holistic view of reliable data, then your ability to maximise the supply chain and subsequently run projects effectively becomes increasingly difficult.

If youíre interested in further information on Sustainable Efficiency and to register for updates on the research, you can visit: