Project Management Resource Survey 2009 – Results

In June 2009, I worked with an intern from The University of Texas in Austin to collect data about the resource management tools and processes of today’s organizations. Our definition of resource management was the “planning, allocation, and scheduling of manpower, machine, money, and materials” as defined by Wideman’s Comparative Glossary of Project Management Terms.

Last week I talked about how the survey was conducted and described the respondents. This week I want to share with you some of the interesting things we learned from the survey about the State of the Union of Resource Management.

Finding 1: Project Resource Management Tools in use today
The most commonly used tools are Microsoft Project – Desktop and Microsoft Excel (67% and 60% respectively). The next three in order of frequency were: In-House Developed Applications, MS Project Server and MS Access.

Although the most frequently used resource management tools offer good information to the project manager, neither Project – Desktop nor Excel provide the task level information needed to make resource allocation decisions for complex or multiple, concurrent projects. On the other hand, organizations that used more mature resource management tools such as MS Project Server and Oracle’s Primavera were better able to track and status projects and felt more confident that their tools provided the information needed to make project decisions.

Finding 2: How Resource Management Tools are used
The organizations responding to our survey consistently reported that while they had resource management tools in their organizations they were not used consistently. One critical area where the tools were not used effectively was project time tracking.

In software development projects, worker time on task is usually the single greatest project cost category. However, 15% of the polled organizations reported that they did not track employee time on projects while 53% reported that they only tracked time at the account number or project level rather than the more predictably useful task level.

Finding 3: Effectiveness of resource management tools for decision making
The average response to questions on “how effective resource management tools are as the basis of decision making” is the most disturbing implication of the survey—only 10% strongly agreed that their resource management tools gave them sufficient information.

Other concerns were reflected in the 33% of the respondents that reported their resource management tools do not provide timely information and the 60% who said they could not use their tools to find resources with specific skills when they were needed on projects.

If managers cannot get the information they need to understand status, management risks, and plan for new projects from their tools, they are left with a much less effective ad hoc process for resource allocation and management. And that was indeed the report of survey participants. The average and the most frequently responses on allocation indicated that resources were allocated by the resource owners in an ad hoc way, were based on the perceived priority of the project, and did not consider the impact of allocation on existing projects.

The failure of resource management tools and process to support decision making across the enterprise leads to many challenges for project managers. Next week, I will tell you about our findings on perceived challenges and offer some observations on how to more effectively use resource management tools.

 

2009 Project Resource Management Survey—the results are in

Ineffective resource management is a serious threat to project success. Resource management in includes the “planning, allocation, and scheduling of manpower, machine, money, and materials” according to Wideman’s Comparative Glossary of Project Management Terms. However, since many organization’s projects today focus on knowledge workers, the management of human resources is the key to successfully completing projects.

According to a 2008 Gartner report, 15% of all projects fail due to high cost variance, while another 18% are unsuccessful because they were substantially late. Since project resources are the biggest component of both project costs and schedule, we contend that ineffective resource management may be the source of these project failures (Project Time Management: The Foundation for Effective Resource Management  McGraw, B. and Leonoudakis, R.).

In June 2009, I worked with an intern from The University of Texas in Austin to collect data about the resource management tools and processes of today’s organizations.

About the Survey
Our survey targeted C-level executives and senior project managers. We contacted project managers through Linked-In, Facebook, and the PMI portal as well as inviting our blog readers. We received completed responses from organizations across the spectrum of size and type—private, public, government and non-profit.  The total number of surveys completed was 147.

We used an online survey that included 24 questions (12 Likert scale, 9 multiple choice, 2 “select all that apply” and 1 open text).

  • Sample Question: Project managers struggle to find available resources for new tasks or projects

 Characteristics of the Respondents
Of the 147 responding organizations, 87% were commercial (52% public, 35% private), 8% classified themselves as government, and the remaining 5% were non-profit. The respondents represented many industries categories but more than half came from Insurance, IT/Technology, Healthcare/Pharmaceuticals, Financial Services, Energy & Utilities and Consulting.

Respondents represented both upper and lower management within an organization with 47% of identifying themselves as upper-level executives, 44% as project/program managers, 9% as other.

The organizations varied in size also with 22% reporting annual revenues below $100 million, 23% between $100 million and $1 billion in revenue, and 48% greater than $1 billion. The remaining 7% of respondents declined to report their revenue.

Analyzing the results provides some interesting data and insight into what’s happening in resource management:

  • Which types organizations use formal resource management tools
  • What tools are used most often and which are most effective
  • What are the differences in resource management processes across organization types
  • What are the organizational implications of using different resource management tools and processes

Next week, I will talk about The State of the Union in Resource Management—including a summary of our findings.

The Lazy Project Manager's Blog

The Home of Productive Laziness Thoughts

ProjectManagement.com

Thoughts, experience, tips and tricks on issues affecting managers and project management

A Girl's Guide to Project Management

Project Management musings for one and all

How to Manage a Camel - Project Management Blog

Project Management Recruitment, Careers and News from Arras People

LeadingAnswers: Leadership and Agile Project Management Blog

Thoughts, experience, tips and tricks on issues affecting managers and project management

Project Management Hut

Thoughts, experience, tips and tricks on issues affecting managers and project management

Herding Cats

Thoughts, experience, tips and tricks on issues affecting managers and project management

beyondcenter

Pushing the Edges Out ...

projectxpert

Just another WordPress.com site