Fast Facts – Project Management


Is project management important?

The world as a whole spends (2010) nearly USD10 trillion of its USD40.7 trillion gross product on projects of all kinds

More than sixteen million people regard project management as their profession

Anecdotal evidence suggests that at least three times as many people use project management disciplines in their regular work practices

Are we getting better at managing projects?

The CHAOS Report from the Standish Group tracks IT project success rates. The results reported for the past few years were:

1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2009
Successful 16% 27% 26% 28% 34% 29% 35% 32%
Challenged 53% 33% 46% 49% 51% 53% 46% 44%
Failed 31% 40% 28% 23% 15% 18% 19% 24%


Successful means that the projects finished on time, within budget, and delivered the required features and functions

Challenged meant that the projects were late, over budget, and/or delivered less than the required features and functions

Failed means that the projects were cancelled prior to completion, or delivered products which were never used.

So, we could conclude that project success is a little worse than in 2006 (32% vs. 35%) but definitely better than in 1994 (16%). What can we make of this information? On the one hand, there is better project management expertise (more certified project managers), better training, and better tools and techniques. On the other hand, the complexity of projects and their environments have increased while the time to deliver has been reduced. Look at the table above and make your own conclusions.

In our opinion, project success in IT has improved when looking at all the many angles that are not being considered by the CHAOS Report. Nevertheless, the figures are still low and need to greatly improve.

Does project management help?

From the UK National Health Service:

  • 33% of projects which didn’t use PRINCE2 were successful
  • 66% of projects which did use PRINCE2 were successful
  • Which means that in this organisation, use of PRINCE2 helped to double the project success rate.

Is there a dominant project management method?

In 2007, the takeup of two of the main project management methods was:

  • Over 500,000 members of PMI worldwide, of which over 250,000 were PMP accredited
  • Over 650,000 people worldwide had a PRINCE2 accreditation. This number is increasing at the rate of 60,000 per year and growing exponentially

What factors contribute to project success?

Below are the “Top ten factors contributing to Project Success” as listed in the ‘Empirical Study on Current Project Management Practice’ by Diane White and Joyce Fortune of the Centre for Complexity and Change. PRINCE2 addresses all of the top 10 factors on the list and goes further to address all 22 factors identified.

  • Clear goals/objectives
  • Support from senior management
  • Adequate funds/resources
  • Realistic schedule
  • End user commitment
  • Effective leadership/conflict resolution
  • Flexible approach to change
  • Clear communication channels
  • Taking account of past experience
  • Effective management of risk