Warning over skills deficit in project management

14 Mar 2007

High-profile project failures such as the PPARS debacle at the Department of Health highlights a widespread deficit in sound project management practices across public and private sectors in Ireland, a consulting firm has warned.

A survey of private and public sector bodies by Clarion Consulting has revealed that one third of organisations have no documented project management methodology in place.

Pat Millar, managing director of Clarion Consulting, said this is down to a skills deficit of project managers in public and private organisations in Ireland.

“This skills deficit is hampering business competitiveness in the private sector and the smooth rollout of services in the public sector, resulting in budget overruns, missed business opportunities and lost customers,” Millar claimed.

“Many organisations simply don’t recognise project management as a discipline in itself with a distinct set of skills and competences.”

IT developments and new product or service introductions were cited as the key drivers for projects while scope creep and unrealistic timeframes were cited as the top two reasons for project failure. Almost one in five (17pc) said that management only sometimes selected projects aligned with corporate strategy.

Some 87pc of the companies surveyed said they have never used project portfolio management software or applications that typically manage several projects across a portfolio simultaneously.

“We’re not entirely surprised with the findings of the survey,” said Millar. “Experience tells us that many organisations are failing to use controlled project management methodologies and governance structures to ensure project success.

“We encourage both public and private sector organisations to invest in greater project management expertise and put an end to these flawed practices, which are clearly putting business competitiveness and the rollout of public services at risk.”

Clarion said that 300 enterprise companies and public sector bodies were invited to participate in the survey and 52 responses were received, representing an unprompted response rate of 17pc.

By John Kennedy