New market research into the state of project management indicates that budgeting and timescales rate low on the priority list and whilst professional qualifications are standard, they are not key to project success.

Research by Parity Group, providers of IT and Business services delivering technical, recruitment and training solutions, has concluded that meeting client's objectives is overwhelmingly the top priority for project managers.

However, this is often at the expense of budget and timescales which rated low on project managers list of priorities. Additionally there is a disconnect between the business and the project’s measure of success.

The research survey covered over 200 respondents. Nearly 90 per cent of respondents have been involved in an IT project during the last three years. 88 per cent are permanently employed while 12 per cent are contractors.

Summarising the research, Alwyn Welch, Parity Group CEO, says, 'The overwhelming conclusion is that poor leadership is jeopardising project success. From a lack of commercial awareness to poor fostering of team skills, too many organisations are failing to provide senior leadership throughout a project.

It is perhaps not surprising that only 0.5 per cent of respondents admitted to having worked on a failed project but with so many catastrophic projects making the headlines in the national and trade press, it is very important to understand how failure is being measured.

Welch continues, 'One of the most revealing aspects of the research was the respondents’ chosen method of success and failure, indeed only a third of the respondent project managers considered completing within budget was very important.

Another interesting aspect of the research highlighted the importance of professional qualifications. Over the past decade organisations have recognised the value of proven project methodologies. According to the research, almost two thirds use Prince2 and 35 per cent use other methodologies.

The research would indicate that methodology and process are clearly now deemed essential pre-requisites to drive consistency and provide a framework for success.

In theory they also provide a structure for day to day activity, for good documentation and clearly defined project stages. However, only 3 per cent of respondents believe that success can be solely attributed to the availability of skills taught in Prince2 / APM or ISEB qualifications.

The research highlights the need for the people working on projects to receive direction and vision; they need expertise and understanding. Without strong, senior leadership on any business programme, it will fail.

According to the research, the most important individual competence was planning; 59 per cent of respondent project managers considered that the ability to plan, prioritise and prepare in advance was crucial.

The second most important was conveying information clearly and accurately, scored at 57 per cent. Having clarity from top down and right across the project, through to suppliers and other cross functional activities, is imperative to success and was attributed by respondents as a key reason for failure when this goes wrong.

Welch concludes, 'Too many organisations have been seduced by the publicity surrounding good governance and believe that if a project is set up to Prince2 or MSP guidelines it will automatically work like clockwork and deliver the expected benefits.

This is naïve at best. Projects are all about people; and without good leadership constantly supporting and coaxing individuals, the project will stagnate irrespective of underlying methodology.'