PPM benchmarking report 2019: programme and project managers meet the increasing challenge of change

Group of PPM practitoners sat round small table with laptops discussing project and programme work

It’s a challenging time to be a programme or project manager: expected to deliver more with less, responsible for multiple change initiatives simultaneously, facing a range of internal and external pressures and embracing agile methods.

This is the world according to professionals working on the front line of programmes and projects in a variety of countries, business types and sizes – and who have shared their insights for AXELOS’ third annual PPM benchmarking study.

At a time of tough economic conditions and accelerating technological change, more stakeholders within organizations are expecting projects to deliver greater competitive advantage (90% in 2019 versus 70% in 2017, our previous study).

However, the value organizations seek has to be delivered with fewer resources (i.e. budget) and more quickly (87% in 2019 versus 74%). The expectation for project managers to deliver more projects in a shorter time scale has increased by a quarter since our last study (81% versus 65%).

Without question, the contribution of PPM to business success has become more fundamental (say 80% of project managers). And that’s in the context of heightened project risk (according to 71%), project complexity increased by new technology (62%) and a more competitive business environment (88%).

The high performing PPM function

This year’s benchmarking study explores the key factors in what makes a successful PPM team and has pinpointed four essential elements:

  • Delivering the basics: having and monitoring processes, conducting project reviews and sharing lessons learned
  • The value of specialism: combining generalist and specialist PPM expertise
  • Ensuring agility: teams adopting agile methods more widely
  • Role of senior management: having PPM represented at the highest level.

Among the most successful PPM teams, 70% are monitoring and measuring their processes and 66% conduct project reviews. A somewhat alarming finding is that only 52% of PPM teams overall claim to have processes with any sort of monitoring or measurement and 48% do project reviews. While these best practices have increased marginally since 2017’s study (45%), they remain far from being well-established.

The Agile advantage

Agile approaches are coming of age among PPM professionals and, seemingly, moving away from their previous perception as “lack of management” buzzwords.

Today, the PPM community is increasingly embracing agile working (75%) and experiencing the benefits such as increased customer satisfaction (55%), greater transparency and efficiency (51% and 49% respectively), reduction in project failure (44%) and higher quality outputs/deliverables (40%).

That said, the uptake of agile methods is happening in only about half of organizations, with only 12% of professionals saying they are “very well-equipped” by their employers to work in an agile way.

Talent development

PPM professionals are unanimous in supporting the need for continuing professional development (CPD), saying it builds a CV, helps keep them up to date with current standards, reflects a commitment to their work and improves their performance on the job.

Consequently, three-quarters of people or more are investing in CPD through training courses (79%), active reading about new topics/trends (77%) and taking certifications (75%).

Having a high level of training, learning and certification has become even more fundamental to PPM professionals today, as they face ever-more demanding programme and project environments – and when organizations are expecting their transformation professionals to drive successful and valuable change.

Download your free copy of the PPM Benchmarking Report 2019.

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