Pursuit of the Elusive

June 2017

By Gabrielle Haskins, IT Enterprise Portfolio Manager, Project Executive Coach, LLC

For the last 20 years we have learned, applied and tried many versions of project management principles, standards and frameworks. The Project Management Institute, “The Pulse of the Profession” (www.pmi.org) provides a remarkable analysis and summary of our profession’s evolution, success rates and performance on a global scale and has been doing so since March 2006.  What we have discovered over the years is incredible, and while we have had to adjust due to economic pressures, the advent of more awareness around customer requirements and a positive set of industry trends, we’re set for an even more amazing future of our profession as project, program and portfolio managers!

In the 2017 Pulse [1] Survey, this year’s edition features feedback and insights of 3,234 PMP Certified Project Managers, 200 Senior Executives and 510 PMO directors representing a wide range of industries from around the globe! We can see a major dichotomy of results in our performance and application of project management concepts as well as improvements and major trends.  New organizational success criteria consider the basic core components of Project Success (PMI triangle) key factors such as expected benefits realization, our organizational ability to make it happen and maturity level!

Through this perspective, PMI identified two major levels of performance and maturity in organizations:

The Champions:  with 80 %or more project success, in core processes and meeting original goals and business intent with high benefits realization maturity.

The Underperformers: 60% or less project success, in core processes and meeting original goals and business intent with low benefits realization maturity.

One other prominent trend emerged -  the need to connect strategic leadership thinking with application development expertise.  For those of us who have been in the industry for two decades or more, this is not a new idea, as we have been working to educate the business world about this trend.  Presently, there is a chasm between the two approaches that sometimes feels like two worlds in parallel. How can the work ahead of us build the structure that aligns development activities to strategic vision? 

Last year, at our local Chapter (www.pmi-mcac.org) Professional Development Day, a panel of local business leaders shared their visions and aspirations concerning project management.  What came across was: a need for more strategic alignment of project and leadership, and more transparency in measuring results and outcomes of projects.  Simple enough, we might say!  However, in our area, a large majority of project managers are hired based on information technology skill such as development, infrastructure or specific application knowledge (!!) with very few requests for experienced business strategic PMs.  What can we do to create and support the skill set that satisfies both technical knowledge and strategic management competencies? A distinct perspective of benefits realization means to connect effectively with the requirements at the onset with the project and putting in place the collective processes of clarifying and purposefully managing throughout the entire project until the end!  

The thirty-one percent of organizations who apply these concepts reached high benefits realization maturity.  This involves expert monitor and control management, skilled stakeholder management and sound management of the entire life cycle of the project! Exciting, isn't it?  How do we get the rest of us (69%) to move forward in that direction?

We can move forward by creating a well-organized Project Management Office (PMO).  It is the bridge to that next level of high benefits realization.  Also based on the Pulse survey, if your PMO is supported by your Enterprise PMO, the results are amazingly encouraging: 77% of projects aligned with strategic goals are meeting original project goals and business intent, a 38% improvement over non-strategic PMO’s. Even more interesting, we get 33% fewer project failures.

Why should we care? Organizations waste on average $97M for every $1B invested, due to poor project performance! Based on the PMI 2017 Pulse results, this is a 20% decline from 2016!

In the spirit of the survey, we want to help our local business and project management community, by offering a one day seminar in September on PMOs. We will present: The Value Add of PMO’s, The role of the Executive and a Roadmap toOrganizational Achievement of Strategic Business Improvement with your PMO and EPMO.  It will be presented by Gabrielle B Haskins PMP, in collaboration with PMI local chapter (www.pmi-mcac.org) and RMC.

The series is scheduled for September and consists of a one day seminar for Executives and PMO directors. It is an open forum and learning environment for sharing our understanding of PMOs, Programs, and Portfolios. We will also discuss Strategic Planning and Organizational Framework from the perspective of PMI standards and guides.  

Using online quizzes offered by PMI,[i]  she will facilitate the conversation; promote mutual understanding; guide our search for application, tools, and techniques or simply get feedback from participants. We will share issues, challenges, successes and failures. 

  1. In Pursuit of the elusive: Showing PMO value. 


What is value and why is it so hard to measure and quantify? What are the various categories of PMO value? What are different approaches that organizations use to illustrate PMO value? What constitutes a holistic and balanced approach for showing PMO value? How do we better communicate and show PMO value? How do we sustain PMO value and manage value dissipation and benefit erosion?

  1. Getting executives to act for project Success


Project success depends not solely on the actions of the project manager, but on those of the executive sponsor. This session explores how project managers can influence executive actions and increase the odds of success. It also identifies actions that executives can take to help projects succeed—along with how project managers can sell these actions to their executives.

  1. OPM3© the path to Organizational Achievement of Strategic Business Improvement. 


This session starts with a discussion of the global project management performance problems organizations face today. It then follows a progression of practical steps that demonstrate how organizational project management maturity, when structuring and executing project management, can help an organization consistently translate its strategy into successful outcomes.

Please stay tuned for more information and registration details at www.pmi-mcac.org

With more than 20 years of global management consulting in industries as diverse as food technology, polymer paint manufacturing, oil and gas production, telecommunications, insurance records, and health informatics, Gabrielle has deep experience in business architecture ecosystems and solutions.  Her passion for and expertise in professional project management in diverse settings stem from eight years teaching the entire Masters Certificate Curriculum in Project Management for ESI at George Washington University.  She is an author of wide-ranging training materials, including major components of the ONC HIT Project Management National Curriculum.  Her executive coaching business advances portfolio and program management using Agile, Kaizen, and Positive Psychology principles.  Gabrielle is a mentor for the Western Michigan Project Management Institute Chapter, which sponsors " The Project" a national university student contest. She serves as the Vice President of Communications for the Capital Area PMI chapter and now is the President elect for 2017-2019.


[1] PMI’s Pulse of Profession(C),9th Global Project Management Survey,2017, www.pmi.org