New report identifies the nine key factors for project success
By: Neil Vowles
Last updated: Wednesday, 27 October 2021
The Association for Project Management (APM) the chartered membership organisation for the project profession, and the Universities of Sussex and Southampton have launched the findings of a new research report Dynamic Conditions for Project Success.
The research explores the most important conditions for project success, and how these can be applied at the organisational and individual level.
Following an in-depth literature review, interviews with project professionals and a survey attracting over 1,000 responses, the research team – including Dr David Eggleton, Lecturer in Project Management with Innovation Studies, University of Sussex Business School, and Dr Nicholas Dacre, Associate Professor of Project Management, Director of the Advanced Project Management Research Centre (APROM), University of Southampton – identified nine factors for determining success:
• Interpersonal skills
• Training and certifications
• Team ethos
• Technology and data
• Knowledge management
The research highlights opportunities for organisations that deliver projects to improve outcomes, including prioritising informal mentoring, improving data analysis and decision making with technology and AI, and establishing knowledge management roles for more effective learning from past projects.
Despite project management often being focused on processes, soft skills emerged as a prominent theme throughout several of the dynamic conditions identified; particularly in interpersonal skills, team ethos and contracts.
Interpersonal skills are considered the most important condition, deemed important or very important by 97 per cent of respondents. Specifically, communication, leadership and listening to one’s team were rated the highest key indicators of success.
A project manager with strong people skills has a significant influence on their team’s ethos, highlighted as the second most important condition, with 92 per cent of participants deeming it important or very important. Trust, transparency and openness are the best indicators of team ethos.
The research also identifies a positive picture for sustainability, with 69 per cent of respondents considering it important or very important.
Report author Dr David Eggleton said: “Our research shows how a very different set of organisational, professional, and socio-economic conditions can contribute to project success. It offers the exciting potential for a much broader range of stakeholders, including data and sustainability specialists, to come together to enhance outcomes. I hope this report will provide important insights for project professionals, helping them to achieve project, organisational, and professional success.”
Dynamic Conditions for Project Success offers recommendations for both organisations and professionals on how to lay the groundwork for project success. The full report can be downloaded from APM’s website.
Professor Adam Boddison, chief executive at APM, said: “Project management is often perceived from the outside as a profession of processes. While these are important, it must be remembered that people deliver projects. Our research shows that project success relies not only on taking the right steps, but also taking them in the right way, with people in mind.
“The findings support what APM has advocated for years: successful project management requires a broad skill set, including strong leadership and clear communication. In a changing and challenging world, it is encouraging to see that sustainability is also rated highly as an important condition for project success. In order for project professionals to continue delivering change that benefits society, they must have the appropriate range of skills that enable them to positively influence people, as well as manage processes.”