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IT project success rates finally improving

Sharon Florentine | Feb. 28, 2017
After years of stagnating IT project success rates, a new survey from PMI shows that rates are finally on the rise.

Established PMO and EPMO

Organizations can bridge the gap between high-level strategic vision and implementation with a project management office (PMO). Among organizations in the survey that have a PMO, half report having an enterprise project management office (EPMO). And those that align their EPMO to strategy (i.e., have a strategic EPMO) report 38 percent more projects meet original goals and business intent and 33 percent fewer projects are deemed failures, the research shows.

"The best-performing, Champion organizations also have organized appropriately around a structured PMO and an EPMO. Most organizations have different PMOs for different departments and projects, and it's unique for each organization how that works. But formalizing the support function with an EPMO means there's standards and best practices in place that help streamline project management processes and tools," he says.

The department-specific PMOs, like the IT PMO, for instance, should focus across the organization and down; meaning they should be listening to their peers and their customers and end users and communicating that effectively up the leadership chain, Langley says. The EPMO, on the other hand, should be listening and communicating with their peers and down; meaning between other PMOs and to their direct reports and subordinates, he says.

Executive sponsorship

Actively engaged executive sponsors continue to be the top driver of whether projects meet their original goals and fulfill their business intent, the research revealed.

"Executive sponsorship is a really critical piece of successful projects. These folks are usually senior managers or department heads who remain engaged with the whole project lifecycle, can communicate the value and across the organization. They're the ones who monitor and manage resources and they can remove roadblocks, break down silos and advocate for resources needed so those don't get siphoned off for 'emergencies,'" Langley says.

The importance of executive sponsorship was not lost on survey respondents, who revealed an increase in the percentage of their organizations' projects with actively engaged sponsors compared to last year -- an average of 62 percent compared to 59 percent, respectively, the research shows.


Finally, organizations that embrace agile methodologies and practices for project management are more likely to be successful; A full 71 percent of organizations report using agile approaches for their projects sometimes or more frequently, the research shows.

This is a major mindset shift for many project management professionals and the organizations with which they work, says Tickle, but it's becoming more common as its effectiveness becomes clear.

"So many 'traditionally trained' project management professionals still believe that agile and collaborative work management tools are a threat. That couldn't be further from the truth -- so, the challenge is to get project managers to think differently and instead of just applying the usual waterfall approach, take a look at your entire bag of tricks. Figure out what is going to help you best enable the business, what's going to get the project done to the best of your ability, no matter what that looks like, methodology-wise," Tickle says.


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