Solid proof

PMI has ordered research on the value of project management. The results were presented at the conference in Warsaw last month. It took three years of fieldwork and cross-disciplinary analysis to produce the findings that culminated in June.
I am a little skeptical of a study that was commissioned by an organization that promotes project management and conducted by someone with a qualification from the organisation. It concludes that project managing is a valuable activity. What else could they have to say? It’s almost like pharmaceutical companies funding research into disease. (Incidentally Ben Goldacre writes a great column in The Guardian and his blog Bad Science, looking for the truth behind science headlines.
They have filled a gap and the study appears robust. It is difficult to quantify the value of project management. I am grateful that someone tried. Janice Thomas, PhD and Mark Mullaly (PMP), looked at 65 case studies from different industries around the globe, according to the website. They have data from 344 project managers and 150 employers, which gives them a solid base from which to draw statistical conclusions. PM Network’s August edition includes a supplement called Solid Proof. This supplement can be found on the PMI website (link removed 26/5/15 because it’s no more working). It also includes a box on statistical analysis. If you are interested in Cronbach’s Alpha as it applies to social science research, it is all there. This was the conclusion of the research team:
Project management practices correlate strongly with: Project outcome satisfaction
?Project success
Success in an organizational project

The benefits of project management are closely related to?Organization project outcome satisfaction

Performance of a project for an organization.

While the analysis is ongoing and will continue into next year’s, preliminary results show that project management works when it’s done well, and is adapted to the needs and requirements of the organization. It becomes less useful if there is too much bureaucracy. If you try to quantify the value and ROI of project management, you’ll get stuck. According to the research team ROI was at level five of the five-point value hierarchy. We’ll see the details later in the month to see how ROI was achieved and what percentage of companies.
Dr Thomas was quoted as saying, “The most significant findings were that we have data available to provide empirically-based advice to organizations on what to do with their project management investment dollars to achieve the greatest value.” I’ll keep you updated as soon as I hear more about the analysis of this study.