The Economist Briefing Paper: Project management excellence and long term success

The Economist Briefing Paper: Project management excellence and long term success

The.EconomistI’m an avid reader of The Economist magazine and make sure to read it cover to cover on a weekly basis.  It is the only magazine I subscribe to and read primarily in paper form.  Though I have converted to reading the majority of articles, papers and books through the electronic medium, I still prefer in depth reading in traditional paper form.  Nothing beats this medium for reading deeply and engagingly.

They also have a much respected Economist Intelligence Unit which sits as a unit within the larger Economist Group umbrella for which the principle Economist magazine sits, that provides comprehensive analysis, evaluation and forecasts of political, business and economic trends.  So it was of much interest when I stumbled upon a briefing paper sponsored by Oracle, titled “Closing the Gap: The link between project management excellence and long-term success”.

As the site abstracts states, this was based on a:

September 2009 survey of 213 senior executives and project management experts worldwide, supplemented by in-depth interviews and desk research. It focuses on six project-intensive industries: industrial manufacturing; architecture, engineering and construction; utilities, oil and gas; chemicals; aerospace and defence; and mining and metals.

Survey respondents are nearly unanimous in recognising the need for good project management: nearly 90% say it is important to delivering successful results and gaining a competitive edge. Yet little more than a third believe they are very good at project management.

This inconsistency has business implications. And the economic downturn has made it even more difficult for companies to execute their projects well.

Other findings of the study include:

  • Companies are aware of their shortcomings, but they are not sure how to address the problem. The worldwide economic slowdown may spur firms to action.
  • Companies can improve their performance by focusing on integrating project management decisions to overall strategic goals, developing project management expertise, and measuring results other than timeliness and adherence to budgets.

Though the paper was based on a 2009 survey, the stagnant economic conditions for which many of the projects were working during that time have remained stubbornly the same and heading into 2013 are as relevant as ever.  For as the concluding section of the paper states:

It is not enough for executives to talk about the importance of project management, or to support training and development initiatives for burgeoning project leaders, however. To make the most of these lessons, leaders need to invest time, money and expertise into developing their project management strategies. They need to take a hard look at the methods their organisations use to select, manage and measure project outcomes, and to align those methods with their long-term strategic objectives.

In good times, but especially in bad, that sentiment could not ring truer for those in the project management field!

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