project management trend guide

 It’s a moot question whether project management is a profession. Daggers will be out if this question is asked to a group of project managers.

Anyway, let’s assume that project management is also a profession. The question “How is it doing” would be imminent. This question is addressed in “Pulse of the Profession®”published every year by PMI Inc. The “Pulse” is eagerly awaited as it shows performance and trends in project management.

In the most recent “Pulse” for 2016, the following data was shared -

Current State of Project Outcomes

 

Met original goals

62%

Completed within the original budget

53%

Completed on time

49%

Experienced scope creep

45%

Failed project’s budget lost

32%

Deemed failure

16%

The Pulse of the Profession® does a complete analysis of the above numbers and presents inferences and actions. However, that is not the mainstay of this article. You can anyway read “Pulse” on the net, free of cost. What caught my attention were the same metrics for 2012.

Current State of Project Outcomes

2016

2012

Met original goals

62%

64%

Completed within the original budget

53%

55%

Completed on time

49%

51%

Experienced scope creep

45%

44%

Failed project’s budget lost

32%

34%

Deemed failure

16%

15%

What I could not fail noticing is that the numbers are almost the same! And mind you there is four year interval!

Let’s add another data point to the above story. That is, the number of Project Management Professionals® or PMP®s at the end of the above two years under discussion. 

Year

Number of PMP®s

2012

510,000

2015

712,000

There is almost a 40% increase in the number of PMP®s, but that does not seem to have improved the outcomes of project management! It appears to me that more and more people are earning their PMP® credential but they are unable to apply it to their projects.

No, I am not a PMP® baiter. I know PMP® is no cakewalk and I respect it. Also contrary to what some folks think, PMP® examination is not a theoretical exam. There are many scenario based question especially in the execution process group. It is not easy to answer these questions. So you are not creating only theoreticians through the PMP® exam.

I think there are three reasons for this gap between knowing and doing project management.

One, most of the project management courses just make you knowledgeable about what is needed for the PMP® examination. The instructor goes through each process religiously. There is hardly any attempt to correlate the project management processes to concrete examples. It is all abstract talk. This is followed by a few hundred or may be a thousand practice questions.

Two, the management looks at PMP® certification as a silver bullet. They expect that as soon one gets PMP® he or she would do miracles in the project. They do not realise that the newly minted PMP® would need handholding and support to apply the learnings to real life projects.  

Three, the management could also be ignorant about project management and may ride roughshod over the project manager’s project estimate, project scoping or risk identification. This does not encourage the project manager to apply his / her knowledge to project management.

Here are some suggestions to make PMP® work better for projects.

  • Follow up  PMP® certification by an in-house course which emphasizes on application of project management to real projects in the organisation
  • Create forums where PMs can share their experiences amongst their peers, for example a community of practice. Let this be loosely run entity without management’s stranglehold on participation and results
  • Give project management awareness courses to senior management
  • Do not rely only on conventional courses. There are project simulators available and I am not referring to PMP® examination simulators. The project simulator creates various project scenarios and makes you plan and execute. This is a more effective way of learning. Project Team Builder® from Sandbox is my favourite.
  • This is for the PMs. Do not overdo the project management bit  - Gantt charts, metrics and meetings and the like. Leave some room for intuition and gut feel as well when you run your project.

What do you say? Eager to hear your views.

About the Author

Mukund Toro 

Mukund Toro is an independent Project Management Consultant who has worked with more than 1000 project managers. His 20+ years’ industry experience in software and telecommunication includes working in various capacities from project manager to director across multinationals, product and service companies and government research organisations.