MSc Literature Review 01/2013

Following in the same vein as my weeknotes I thought it might be useful to collate my literature review notes. My proposal hasn’t been formally accepted but I want to make sure I can hit the ground running or at least have enough knowledge to adapt my proposal. With that in mind I asked the APM’s LinkedIn Group whether they felt there were any relevant resources worth looking at. The following is a summary of the KPMG New Zealand Project Management Survey 2010 and my thoughts reading it. I’ll review other resources mentioned in subsequent posts.


Carried out by the KPMG this survey was completed by almost 100 organisations (KPMG clients) from over 13 different sectors. The survey comprised 22 questions focusing on project governance; business case management; and benefits realisation. There are no appendices attached, it would have been useful to see all of the questions asked and the data received. Key messages include:

  • Key drivers of project activity: introduce new products and services; support organisational change; and develop IT;
  •  59% of organisations do not have a formal benefits measurement and realisation process;
  • 68% of organisations do not formally undertake strategic reviews to track benefits realised by the business;
  • 60% organisations fail to consistently align their projects with corporate strategy;
  • 32% of organisations always initiate projects with a business case. The survey does highlight concerns that critical aspects are often missing or poorly presented;
  • 29% consistently practice timely and accurate monitoring and reporting or projects; and
  • 13% always take risk management into account.

The report also indicates that high performers coordinate projects through a Project Management Office (PMO); view their projects as part of a programme or portfolio; initiate projects with a full defined business case; and apply risk management.

My thoughts

…there are still organisations who are failing to benefit from effective project governance and alignment to organisational strategy.

I think the above quote, taken from p.9 of the survey, relates quite strongly to a comment made by John Townsend on my proposal regarding an organisation’s maturity in relation to project management. How well placed is the organisation to make best use of the various methodologies available? Understanding your organisation is essential and was a key consideration of a programme of work carried out by Jisc in 2002. The work explored the concept of Managed Learning Environments in UK Further and Higher Education. A publication developed by Jisc infoNet providing guidance to those developing an MLE focused an entire chapter on “understanding your organisation“.

One of the biggest difficulties for projects across UK Higher Education (HE), from my own experience, is in articulating and evidencing the benefits derived from a project. I think there are a number of reasons for this, relating to the survey findings: projects are initiated without a business case; they don’t have a formal benefits measurement and realisation process; and I’m not convinced they formally undertake strategic reviews.

The report talks of project success but in terms of my research I’m not sure that’s necessarily important. A project can be closed early and still have achieved certain benefits, and although the full range of benefits might not have been realised the organisation still learns from it. It doesn’t mean to say the project has been poorly managed. I’m more concerned with project management maturity and organisational performance. I was interested by the four items listed by the report that relate to the “high flyers” i.e. a PMO; programme/portfolio view; risk management; and initiation with a business case.


One thought on “MSc Literature Review 01/2013

  1. Pingback: Weeknote 04/2013 | andystew

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