Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Getting better all the time...

"I used to get mad at my scope, my PMO just didn't cope. Holding me down, turning me 'round, right at the end of my rope.

Now I admit, it's getting better, it's getting better all the time..."

...apologies to The Beatles, from their song "Getting Better All the Time". To see (and hear) the real version, go here.

Why the flashback to the Sixties? Just got my latest edition of PMI Today. The feature story is about the latest survey on project performance, and there is the reason for the flashback - it's getting better all the time. What is? Project performance. A little better. Projects finishing on time moved up from 53% to 55% and projects finishing within budget edged up from 55% to 58%. The glass, however, is still just barely over half-full. These numbers are not great. Some other numbers were more impresive - 65% of respondents reported an increase over 2006 in projects meeting goals and business intent.

How about scope creep, the namesake of this blog? Well, unfortunately, that little slug is doing just fine, and is quite healthy, thank you very much. 51% of projects experience it, say the respondents. So....more work needed there.

What's nice about the survey is the positive correlation identified between PM maturity or project management culture (centered around a PMO) and project success rates. For example, One chart shows that if an organization has high PM maturity, on-time-ness and on-budget-ness go from 43% to 75% and 48% to 73%, respectively. And strikingly, scope creep affects 36% of projects for organizations that have achieved higher maturity levels but over 59% for those that have lower levels of PM maturity.

And how about this one - the frosting on the cake and a good justification in and of itself - for efforts in PM maturity: the increase in percentage of projects that met their goals (in other words, the whole reason for doing the project in the first place). It goes from 51% for low-maturity organizations to a whopping 80%, for those organizations with high PM maturity levels. Speaking of "being mad at your school", that's like going from an F to a B. Okay, a B-minus, but hey - it's still a B!

I'm trying to find a direct link to the survey, but in the meantime, you can go here to read the article. If you're pushing for increased PM maturity at your organization, this is good backup data for you.

So hopefully, for you as well, it's getting better all the time...


Pawel Brodzinski said...

I'm curious how PM maturity is measured. If you consider judging maturity for example basing on CMMI I bet there are mostly big corporations which are called mature. Then I can believe they quite often deliver on time and on budget but unfortunately it doesn't have to mean the project as a whole is successful.

This brings me to a story from one of big consulting company. A project was bought for big bucks, so they had no problems with on-budget delivery, they threw a bunch of people there and were mainly on time (project consisted of several independent paths). A stunning success one would say.

Unfortunately vendor refused to make changes which weren't captured in an agreement and customer refused to deal with additional (high) costs of adding them. A situation ended up with the customer not using the software or using it in a very limited part. Definitely far from success for both sides, maybe except of financial aspect for the vendor. The process was mature but it was unreasonably stiff too.
Would you consider that as a success?

Rich said...


Thanks for your comment. Note that I was just about to append to this optimistic posting with some recent findings from the Standish Group, and their CHAOS results, so you are very timely. The bottom line, in my opinion for a measurement of success of any project is the satisfaction level of the customer and the continued life and well-being of project team members. In other words, even IF the customer is happy, but you have injured or killed your team members, that's hardly success - at least enterprise success - because you "won the battle but lost the war".

To your point, there is not a direct connection between PM Maturity and success. In your example, it seems that while some aspects of PM Maturity were demonstrated, the stiffness of the process caused some problems. In my company we have a thread through our PM Maturity measurement that INCLUDES project success and that helps balance things.

You may want to check out my posting on "Measuritis" from a long time ago...


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