A glaring absence of project management discipline means that just a third of organizations manage to deliver projects effectively, with a quarter frequently seeing projects blighted by major delays and cost overruns.
That's according to a study by Boston-based Novations Group, who asked 2,000 senior HR and training and development executives across the U.S. about their experience with major projects and how well – or badly – they are executed.
What emerged was that barely more than third (35 percent) felt that their organization normally managed to execute projects effectively.
Four out of 10 said that they sometimes experienced delays and cost overruns, while a quarter admitted that such problems were frequent.
"The amateurish management of high-priced undertakings is a problem organizations fail to acknowledge," said John Rahiya, Novations executive consultant.
"Companies continue to waste shareholder equity, and there's seldom accountability. Overruns and missed target dates seem to be taken for granted. On the other hand, there's great opportunity for improvement."
The primary causes for missed deadlines and overruns? Two-thirds of those surveyed put them down to having inadequate time and resources, while half said that their organizations lacked any project management discipline.
Others problems included inexperience, too little oversight by senior management and too much pressure from senior management.
"But these factors are inevitably found in combination," Rahiya said. "They go hand in hand with ineffective project management and poor project outcomes."
Half the organizations using principles of project management reported success, and half have had mixed results.
Yet 10 percent do not rely on project management but plan to do so, and 16 percent don't even have any such plans.
John Rahiya added that failed and delayed corporate projects should be recognized as a training issue.
"Wise organizations make project management capabilities a priority and take pains to be certain the training and methodology are in place," he said.
"But many companies have to learn the hard way, and that's no longer excusable now that the stakes have gotten so high."