Sharp fall in project management use among Irish firms – survey

19 Apr 2012

Clarion Consulting managing director Pat Millar

Fewer Irish organisations are using project management methodologies compared to three years ago, and the number using them to drive business strategy has declined considerably, a new survey has found.

Clarion Consulting, the business and technology consultancy which conducted the research, said poor project management practices can lead to problems like budget overruns, missed deadlines, organisational waste and can jeopardise business transformation efforts.

The survey found one-third of organisations have no project management methodology in place. The number of dedicated project management offices (PMOs) also fell, from 63pc in 2009 to 51pc. 

Just 8pc of respondents said they use project management to drive strategy development – down from 29pc in 2009. One in 10 consider it “unimportant”.

The results were released to coincide with the Project Management Institute’s National Conference, which takes place at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin today.

Why the decrease in project management?

Managing director Pat Millar said the lower numbers are a consequence of the economic situation, as organisations overall show less appetite for embarking on project management because of a belief it will absorb money at a time of tight cash flow for many businesses.

“If you look back on previous years, there was an increase year on year in putting methodologies in place and project management offices. In the last couple of years that has stopped and that’s the pressure of cost,” he said.

“Organisations are probably not willing to invest in a project management office if they don’t already have one because they see it as an overhead,” he said, adding that where organisations have retained a PMO, they are demanding faster results.  

According to Millar, the maturity curve for project management has three main stages: the first is where organisations track and administer projects more closely and introduce status reporting.

The second stage involves training, mentoring and coaching and support to project managers, and getting more people with project management backgrounds.

The third stage is where a project management office is put in place, which is involved with the board in selecting which projects the business should complete, based on how they align with the organisation’s strategy.

At a simpler level, Millar said good project management starts with doing things right and, in the leading organisations, this approach evolves into doing the right things.

The most mature sectors are in technology, telecoms and financial services, where good project management practices have been embedded for some time.

Best practice project management leads to better use of budgets and careful planning gives a greater chance of a successful outcome, he said. “You get less overruns, that’s a fact. More of your projects are completed on time and more of them deliver what you need,” Millar told

“What really only comes when people have the right methodology is they look at whether they are doing the right thing, where it’s not just a pet project of one of the directors but a project aligned with the strategy. That’s the real sweet spot for an organisation.”

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic