Waterfall Project Management has not gone away

Conferences offer an unpredictable mix of benefits

  • Content, from formal presentations, exhibition stands etc.
  • Networking with other participants
  • Surprises or nuggets of unexpected value

This post picks out only a couple of points from the 2021 PM Summit held by the PMI South Africa chapter on 27 March 2021. In particular, the contribution from Ashwini Bakshi, who presented the current strategy and focus of the Project Management Institute, where he is Managing Director Europe & Sub Saharan Africa.

The nugget which caught my eye was some of the detail in the 2021 edition of Pulse of the Profession® from PMI which he referred to.

Waterfall project management has not gone away

In response to the question (Pulse of the Profession® 2021, Appendix, p 26): In your estimation, what percentage of the projects completed within your
organization in the past 12 months used the following types of approaches?

  • 52% answered “traditional”
  • 21% answered “hybrid”
  • 25% answered “agile”

This makes sense, despite the perceived popularity of agile. In much of industry and commerce, projects involve a significant number of organisational interfaces, where “agility” is not the best approach. For example, the builders of a bridge are unlikely to be “agile” regarding handover dates to the traffic authority which will manage its usage.

Elements (“work packages”) of a project may however be best delivered in a more agile way and this is possibly where the reports of “hybrid” arise.

Europe is not world champion in project delivery

In Europe, in response to the question (Pulse of the Profession® 2021, Regional and Industry Variances): In your estimation, what percentage of the projects completed within your organization in the past 12 months [were]… (Mean percentages shown.)

  • within budget? 57%, compared with 62% globally
  • on time? 50%, compared with 55% globally
  • failed project, project lost? 40%, compared with 35% globally.

But in traditional projects, the classic measures of success are meeting the scope:

  • on time
  • within budget.

On this basis, traditional projects do not come near to meeting their own standards, even though this approach is used for more than half of the reported projects.

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