A quarter of projects don’t meet their stated goals – but that’s not because of remote working

A quarter of all projects do not meet the business goals that their organisations set for them but remote working is not a major factor in outcomesA quarter of all projects do not meet the business goals that their organisations set for them, according to research published by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the 15th edition of its Pulse of the Profession report – The Future of Project Work. The newly released report, based on the responses of over 2,000 project professionals and 300+ senior leaders around the world, paints what the report says is a concerning picture of project outcomes across various industries globally. The report also highlights the reasons for this and excludes remote working as a major factor.

Although a significant number of projects (26 percent) are failing to meet business goals, 16 percent delivered some value or benefit to stakeholders or the organisation. However, one in ten projects delivered no value and are thus identified as outright failures by their organisations. These projects account for a quarter of all budget lost.

Lysan Drabon, the PMI’s Regional Managing Director for Europe, said: “Projects are currently in crisis, which has dire implications for all organisations aiming to adapt to the challenges of our changing world. Whether its projects to help tackle climate change or integrating AI to boost operational efficiencies, continuing at this rate of failure is simply unsustainable.”

According to the report, there has long been a focus on assessing the perceived pitfalls of remote working and its potential to contribute to a decline in productivity and overall project failure. However, while 35 percent of business leaders consider remote working less useful than in-person work, the report reveals that work location has little or no bearing on the success of projects.

Instead, the report outlines that capability-building is a key factor in combatting project failure and driving higher performance rates. The research revealed that 64 percent of teams needed new or different technical skills to adapt to rapidly changing work environments (e.g. data analysis and agile project management practices). It is also highlighted that 61 percent needed power skills (e.g. communication and collaborative leadership), while 54 percent required business acumen skills (e.g. better understanding the organisation and/or industry).

It is clear that, in favour of persistent debates about the evolution of work styles, leaders have overlooked the importance of empowering employees with education and professional development – whether through dedicated training programmes or mentoring and coaching. Luckily, according to AIPM, business leaders can always rely on the convenience of online courses in upskilling their staff.

“In light of the results showing that work location has no impact on project performance, being constrained to a specific way of working could actually lower morale and be detrimental to teams and organisations. Leaders must recognise that the remote work debate is a red herring and instead focus on upskilling their people – not only by providing the technological tools that will make their work more efficient and effective, but by focusing on building employee capabilities. Only those who do so will preside over truly adaptable businesses fit for the challenges of tomorrow,” Drabon added.