PMI has ordered research into the value of project management. The results of the research were presented at the conference held in Warsaw last month. The three-year process of cross-disciplinary analysis and fieldwork that led to the June results was exhausting.
I’m a little skeptical about a study that was requested by an organization that promotes project management and that was conducted by someone who is qualified in that field. It concluded that project management is a valuable activity. What else could they possibly have to say? It’s almost as if pharmaceutical companies are funding research into diseases. (Ben Goldacre, an excellent columnist in The Guardian, and his blog Bad Science, look for the truth behind science headlines.
They have filled a void and the study seems solid. It is difficult to quantify project management’s value. I am grateful someone tried. Janice Thomas (PhD) and Mark Mullaly, (PMP), analyzed 65 case studies from different industries across the globe, according the website. They have data from 344 project managers, 150 employers, which gives them a solid foundation from which to draw statistical conclusions. PM Network’s August issue includes a supplement called Solid Proof. This supplement can be found at the PMI website (link removed 26/5/15 as it’s no longer working). It also contains a box about statistical analysis. It is available for anyone who is interested in Cronbach’s Alpha as it relates to social science research. This was the conclusion for the research team.
The best practices in project management are strongly correlated with: Project outcome satisfaction
Project success
A successful organizational project

Project management benefits are closely linked to satisfaction with the project outcome

Performance of a project in an organization

The analysis is ongoing and will continue into next years. However, preliminary results show that project managing works when it is done well and is tailored to the needs of the organization. If there is too much bureaucracy, it becomes less effective. It will be difficult to quantify the ROI and value of project management. The research team found that ROI was at level 5 of the five-point value hierarchy. We’ll be able to see the details of the month later in the month, including how ROI was achieved and the percentage of companies involved.
Dr Thomas was quoted saying that “the most significant findings were the fact that we have data to provide empirically-based guidance to organizations on how to spend their project management investment dollars to achieve maximum value.” As soon as I learn more about the study’s analysis, I will keep you informed.