Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business


High failure rates in project management are avoidable, says professor

High failure rates in project management are avoidable, says professor

Associate professor Gezinus J. Hidding, Ph.D.

By Whitney Critten |  Student reporter

Organizations lose $122 million for every $1 billion invested in projects and programs due to project failure, according to a 2016 Project Management Institute study

Associate professor Gezinus Hidding seeks to end this financial drain through a new framework for project management called Value-Driven Change Leadership, or VDCL. Hidding’s research on VDCL and other topics has been published in notable peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Business Strategy and the International Journal of Management and Information Systems.

Here, Hidding discusses the high failure rates of projects within information technology groups, why there’s a need for his research, and the implications of his research for the business community.

How many projects fail and why?

According to a 2015 study by the Standish Group, only 29% of software development projects were delivered on time, on budget, and fulfilled predetermined requirements. Nineteen percent failed, and 52% were completed but over budget, late, or did not meet predetermined goals and objectives.

High failure rates can be attributed to a lack of general agreement on project goals, inadequate technology or software, variance from previous projects, constantly changing goals and objectives, and leadership from project managers.

How can Value-Driven Change Leadership help?

Most project managers follow the traditional Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) framework for project management. PMBOK focuses on activities, resources, and on-time and on-budget completion of project deliverables.

However, by only focusing on the steps to project completion, project managers miss the opportunity to add business value to projects and focus on the organizational change that is involved in managing projects. These factors are a part of the Value-Driven Change Leadership framework.

What does your research suggest?

In examining whether project success can be attributed to the traditional PMBOK framework or the new VDCL framework, we found that both frameworks contributed to success.

Project success factors from PMBOK are executive sponsorship, communications/expectations management, scope management, time/schedule management, and cost/budget management.

From VDCL, the factors include managing value outcomes (agreement on the project’s purpose), human change (good people-to-people relations and overall project communication), and architecture of the end-item (establish what success is early for project team and have it done by the first release).

What are the implications for business?

The PMBOK framework is an effective tool for project management, but has its limitations when it comes to adding business value and addressing change management. And sole reliance on PMBOK by project managers can attributed to high failure rates in project management.

However, by educating project managers on the importance of Value-Driven Change Leadership, project management success rates will start to improve.

The first step lies with executives with the authority to delegate training on VDCL to project managers.

Why is this important to Quinlan students?  

At some point in time, students will be a part of team or project managers themselves and have to meet predetermined goals and objectives from high-ranking leadership. To be successful, they must know what frameworks are the most effective in project management.