Project management can often feel like trying to catch the wind.

As a project manager, you keep up with ever-changing goals. You manage a team with tasks and priorities that are constantly shifting. The availability of resources is always in flux.

Here at monday.com, we’ve put together a breath of fresh air for you: hard project management statistics.

Our extensive surveys have turned up knowledge that’s as close to 100% reliable as you can get in the project management world.

In this article, you’ll learn what project management looks like across the economy, how people put it into practice, and what tools those people are using.

Without further ado: the ultimate list of project management statistics for 2021.

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What’s the state of project management in 2021?

This section will give you a 10,000-foot overview of what project management looks like at the beginning of this year.

Of course, there’s been a lot of change. But some things might be familiar. And some things came as a surprise, even to us.

Project management practices are catching on, but there’s more work to do

  • The demands on project managers are increasing. A project manager today is asked to not only launch innovative products, but also take responsibility for updating internal processes. As a result, 4 out of 5 project managers report that they can’t get by without project portfolio management.
  • Unfortunately, project management systems aren’t maturing at the same rate. Only 35% of project managers surveyed in 2020 were “somewhat or very satisfied” with the systems in place. Despite the importance of PPM, only 61% apply a defined project management methodology to each project.

screenshot showing that only 61% of projects apply a defined methodology

(Image Source)

  • Why? Project management maturity isn’t valued. Only 46% of organizations make project management a cultural priority — despite statistical proof that a mature project management process makes an organization far more likely to deliver on time and under budget.
  • PM software offers untapped growth potential. Currently, just under 1 in 4 organizations use any kind of project management software. The rest are working with Excel, paper, or a patchwork of tools with sub-optimal integration. As a result, 54% of organizations lack the ability to track KPIs in real-time.
  • And the stakes couldn’t be higher. Across all organizations, 11.4% of all resources are wasted due to inferior project management processes. Surveys suggest that organizations who fail to properly integrate project management into their strategies will see their outright project failure rate increase by a factor of 2/3.
  • But there are positive signs. 89% of organizations now have at least one project management office (PMO), and 50% have more than one. In addition, 71% of PMs surveyed believe the perceived value of their role is increasing, up from 55% in 2019.
  • These offices are busy. 59% of project managers run between 2 and 5 projects. 11% run 6 to 10 projects, and 15% run more than 10 at a time. Only 15% of project managers work on only one project at a time.

Hopefully, as more companies invest in project portfolio management, we won’t have to learn so many of these lessons the hard way.

Intelligent project management is needed more than ever

  • Repetitive tasks are eating our productivity alive. A monday.com survey found that 54% of workers spend 5 or more hours per week on tedious tasks that require little or no creativity. For 16%, it’s 10 or more hours.

Data entry is the biggest culprit, with almost 1 in 4 describing data input tasks as their biggest time suck.

  • Our co-workers also bear some of the blame. 41% of workers reported that message notifications from email, Slack, and other platforms were a major obstacle to getting work done. 20% described email overload as a serious problem.

All that tedium takes a toll. 57% of workers reported that they’ve begun to feel the symptoms of burnout. 30% report feeling less creative than they used to be, and a whopping 63% don’t think they’re getting enough chances to do their best work.

  • Artificial intelligence will change the game — but not yet. Globally, 85% of CEOs believe that AI will “significantly” impact their business in the next five years. 63% agree or strongly agree that AI will make a bigger difference to business than the advent of the internet.

As we saw above, 54% of workers believe they could save at least 5 hours by automating their most menial tasks. In spite of this, however, 58% of CEOs have not implemented any kind of AI in their business, likely due to the difficulty of finding employees qualified to put it in place.

Project management is a growing career

  • Companies are committing to training project managers. 61% of organizations provide some form of project management training, while 47% have gone the extra mile and established a clear path for developing PM careers
  • As a PM, you’ll do a little bit of everything. The top 6 activities conducted by PMOs are project status reporting, maintaining portfolio lists, maintaining project management methodology & templates, facilitating project approval processes, providing project management expertise, and facilitating lessons learned.

screenshot of an image showing the activities carried out by PMOs

(Image Source)

  • Certification remains extremely important. On average, a PM who’s received a project management professional (PMP) certificate of some form will make 22% more money than a PM who hasn’t been certified. Just over half of the companies surveyed said they require candidates to be PMP certified in order to fill PM roles.

How are projects being planned?

  • Companies love Agile project management, but they adopt it piecemeal. Research suggests that the most popular Agile innovation among businesses today is the daily standup, used by 85% of respondents. Runners-up include retrospectives (81%), sprint planning (79%), sprint review (77%), and short iteration cycles (64%).

Across a range of organizations that are seen as innovators in PM technology and practices, 53% employ at least one Agile methodology technique.

  • The trend is to keep teams small. 30.5% of project teams have 5 or fewer members. Another 39% have between 6 and 10 members, leaving only 30.5% with more than 10 employees.
  • More PMs are seeing the value of baseline project schedules. Almost half of organizations stated that they “mostly or always” start each project with a baseline schedule. They use those schedules to assess the project’s performance, discovering where resources need to go and where improvements have to be made.
  • But there’s also an increasing awareness of the importance of change. KPMG’s study of project management in Australia demonstrated that two-thirds of organizations engage in some form of project change management.

Change management provides teams and companies with a controlled way to execute changes to a project plan, make changes intelligently, and keep all stakeholders informed.

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How do you create a project budget?

  • Surprisingly, the first step is empathy. 91% of CEOs — as clear a consensus as we found anywhere — believe that the ability to empathize with colleagues, subordinates, and customers directly influences a company’s financial performance. The more you view your problems as people-problems, the more baseline revenue you’ll have to budget with.

  • Going over budget is an epidemic. Only 43% of companies reported that they “most of the time” or “always” complete their projects within the established budget.

Even worse, a substantial number of respondents reported that they don’t track their budgets at all. Can’t go over budget when you don’t have a budget, right?

  • Higher budgets are correlated with a greater failure rate. Unfortunately, there are real consequences to going over budget or failing to track your spending.

Counter-intuitively, research reveals that spending more on a project can actually mean it’s more likely to fail. Projects where the company spends $1 million or more fail 50% more often than projects where $350,000 or less is spent.

Undoubtedly, some of this comes from lower-budget projects tending to be simpler and lower-effort than high-budget projects. However, it’s also true that heavy spending to fill serious gaps is the first sign that a project is headed for failure.

Speaking of project failure, let’s examine some other signs that a project might be doomed.

How many projects will fail in 2021?

If teams and leaders take an average of 1 hour to make any decision, projects succeed at a rate of 58%. When that time increases to 5 hours, the project success rate drops to 18%.

  • Black swan events like COVID-19 play a role. 58% of organizations said that the coronavirus pandemic had a “moderate or significant” impact on their operations, forcing them to delay or cancel projects.
  • In the end, though, it comes down to processes. Companies who build strong project practices enjoy a whole host of benefits.

Compared to companies without mature value-delivery processes, they’re more likely to meet their project goals (77% vs. 56%), stay within budget (67% vs. 46%), and deliver on time (63% vs. 39%), and less likely to suffer scope creep (30% vs. 47%) or outright project failure (11% vs. 21%).

What will happen to project management software?

  • The best way to reap the benefits of project management is to use PM software to organize your processes. However, fully one-quarter of project managers report that they do not have access to software dedicated to project communication, despite that being one of the most important factors in keeping decision latency low — and chances of success high.

Remember how we said earlier that only about 23% of businesses were using a dedicated project management solution? They’re missing out on key benefits, of which communication tools are just one example.

  • The software already exists to influence every aspect of work for a project manager. While building monday.com, we did extensive research to see what our customers were looking for.

We came away with some interesting data. 91% of our users said they listed their project tasks on a board. 88% said that their job frequently involved re-prioritizing and updating their tasks, while 70% spent a lot of time keeping track of deadlines and milestones. And 42% were trying to do all of this in a spreadsheet.

monday.com cross-department project tracking template

  • As PMs ourselves, we felt the pain of that last part. So we built monday.com to be able to do all of those things and more. Check out any one of our 200+ templates — like our cross-department project tracker — to see how that works.

What’s next?

As we start 2021, the project management statistics reveal a vibrant, growing set of practices — but one that still has a long way to go.

We predict the gap between companies that establish project management practices and those that throw caution to the wind will only grow. If you’re looking to enhance your chances of project success by exploring project management software, the best time to start is right now.

Explore the monday.com Work OS today to see what it can do for your project management office.

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