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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a project team say, “What does a project manager do anyway?” They wanted to believe that I was enjoying a cup of coffee with my feet up on the desk while they’re working hard to complete tasks.   

In fact, project teams do not see the abundance of “behind the scenes” work—working with sponsors on project scope, gathering/clarifying/negotiating requirements, managing change requests and removing roadblocks, to name just a few—that helps minimize distractions so that they can focus on their work. 

Yet many companies don’t have project managers on staff—either because they don’t require this resource yet or they don’t know that they need them. According to the Project Management Institute, 46% of organizations admit to not fully understanding the value of project management. [1]

Some common misconceptions that I’ve heard over the years...and the facts:

BELIEF #1:  Project Management Is Overhead...or Overrated

Some companies believe that project management is not critical to their organizations’ success. While this may be true for early-stage startups or small companies, the need to invest in professional project management becomes much more critical for growing companies and enterprises.


  1. 43% of projects are challenged (late, over budget, and/or short of the required features and functions) and 18% fail (either cancelled prior to completion or delivered and never used). [2]
  2. ROI of project managers (including average salary and training costs): [3]

               Entry-level – 501% ROI
               Mid-level – 268% ROI
               Senior level – 358% ROI

BELIEF #2:  Project Management Adds Too Much Process and Paperwork

Rushing a project because it’s needed “yesterday” often leads to poor quality, rework, and delays—not to mention low team morale. Successfully delivering a project requires some planning, but the right amount will depend on the environment, size of the team(s), and type of projects. Companies that use a more agile approach to projects can respond quickly to change and have a higher success rate than non-agile companies. 


  1. Agile organizations successfully complete more of their strategic initiatives than less agile organizations. (69% to 45%). [1]
  2. Agile organizations grow revenue 37% faster and generate 30% higher profits than non-agile companies. [4]

BELIEF #3:  Anyone Can Be a Project Manager

Sometimes, a department manager is asked to take on the role of the project manager…but how effective can they really be? Consider how much time they’ll spend on project management instead of the job they were hired to do—gathering task status from the team, attending project-related meetings, following up on action items, developing status reports, and assisting the team with project roadblocks. It’s not the best use of their time or expertise.


  1. 80% of “high-performing” projects are led by a certified project manager. [5]
  2. Organizations in which talent management is aligned to organizational strategy have an average project success rate of 72%, while organizations in which talent management is not effectively aligned to organizational strategy have an average project success rate of 58%. [6]

If you are unsure about investing in professional project management, hiring a temporary contractor or consultant is a great way to realize the benefits without burdening your organization’s cash flow with full-time employees. And it’ll keep your team focused on what they do best...driving your core business forward.

[1] - Project Management Institute: Pulse of the Profession 2014 – The High Cost of Low Performance
[2] - The Standish Group: CHAOS Research Report 2013
[3] - ESI International: Talent Drain Fact Sheet 2013
[4] - Project Management Institute: Pulse of the Profession 2015: Capturing the Value of Project Management 2015
[5] - PricewaterhouseCoopers: Insights and Trends: Current Programme and Project Management Practices 2012
[6] - Project Management Institute:  Pulse of the Profession – The Competitive Advantage of Effective Talent Management

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Professional project management for your long-term growth and success

3 common project management beliefs...and the facts that belie them

by Veronica Thraen / February 1, 2016