Utility executives lack confidence in project delivery

A new global survey from IFS and the International Project Management Association (IPMA) shows concern for how business projects are being managed.

IFS and the IPMA released a new global study in September that reflects a lack of confidence in how business critical projects are being managed in the utilities and oil and gas sectors.

The IFS research surveyed 273 CEOs, COOs and project managers across the US, UK, Australia, Scandinavia and Benelux, comprising of 81 from the utilities and oil and gas sectors.

Just under two-thirds (64 per cent) of those surveyed and working in the utilities sector identified the ability to manage projects as critical or absolutely critical to the future growth of the business, but only 5 per cent are very confident of their ability to manage business critical projects in the most efficient way.

Just under three-quarters (74 per cent) of those working in the oil and gas sector identified the ability to manage projects as critical or absolutely critical to the future growth of the business but similarly only 5 per cent are very confident of their ability to manage business critical projects in the most efficient way.

Less than a quarter (17 per cent) of businesses surveyed in the utilities, oil and gas sector have fully integrated IT systems for project management and only 5 per cent are very confident they have full visibility of information to run projects effectively.

IFS, Australia and New Zealand managing director, Rob Stummer said that companies working in the utilities and oil and gas sectors are under increasing environmental and legislative pressure, whilst having to keep shareholders happy, deliver projects more quickly and reduce costs

“Having control of critical projects in one place and integrating IT systems can help these companies operate more efficiently whilst improving customer service at the same time,” Mr Stummer said.

Sixty-nine per cent of CEOS, COOs and project managers working in the utilities sector stated the ability to manage projects is critical or absolutely critical to the future efficiency of their business.

The top three most important factors for consistent and efficient project management varied according to industry. For energy and utility companies, personnel and skills was the top priority (53 per cent), followed by real-time data (47 per cent) with resource planning and integrated IT systems coming joint third (42 per cent). For companies in the oil and gas sector, integrated IT systems and real-time data came first (47 per cent), closely followed by personnel and skills and resource planning (42 per cent).

Despite being stated as an investment priority and being crucial to business success, only 17 per cent of companies in the utilities and oil and gas sectors have fully integrated IT systems in place for project management.

“This new evidence points to the fact that despite project management being a business critical area, organisations are lacking the confidence in their ability to deliver effective projects,” IPMA’s research management board chair, Professor Brane Semolic said.

“This is down to concerns regarding having access to the important information required to run projects efficiently and on time.

“The results to this survey are in line with anecdotal evidence we receive from our 50 project management associations around the world and make it clear that effective project management makes a vital contribution to customer delivery, cost control and future business growth.”