Within the broader project management space, managing digital and IT projects presents its own kind of unique challenge - as these IT project management statistics show!
The professional practice of project management touches dozens of industries and is full of niches, specialisms, and complexities. And within this landscape, digital and IT project management is very much its own beast. Project managers who specialize in IT and digital projects have to learn how to grapple with many obstacles and pitfalls unique to this niche.
To help you better understand the particular quirks and challenges of IT project management, we’ve gathered vital project management statistics, including project success data, average project manager salaries, and future predictions. So, let's get stuck in!
Covering projects from software development and cloud computing to digital transformation and data management, IT project management is a quiet but pivotal player in how our world functions. As our daily lives become increasingly digital-focused, successfully managed IT projects have the power to change everything.
Let's look at the numbers. The tech industry is growing — fast — with global IT spending predicted to reach $4.6 trillion by the end of 2023, up 5.5% from 2022. The project management software industry in particular is poised for substantial growth, projected to reach about $15.08 billion by 2030.
With more spending being funneled into the sector each year, what project management trends do project professionals need to look out for?
Many project managers are shifting towards hybrid project management methodologies, blending approaches to better meet business needs and increase the chances of project success in a fast-paced industry. This aligns with project management professionals adopting new digital tools and technologies and a growing preference for data-driven decision-making.
To paint a better picture of the IT project management industry, let's look at some general project management stats.
While project management is integral to all sectors, most projects in organizations are related to IT, at 63% of all projects, according to this study.
As for which types of IT projects are most popular, this differs by sector. However IT and digital transformations and new product development projects dominate, with 55% and 46% of all businesses surveyed by APM having undertaken these types of projects in the past year, respectively.
Now we understand the prevalence of IT projects, let's explore the details.
It's widely accepted that IT teams and Agile projects go hand in hand. But how popular is Agile amongst IT project managers, exactly?
When asked which areas of their organization had adopted Agile principles and practices, 86% of respondents to Digital.ai's survey identified 'software development' while 63% selected 'IT', highlighting Agile's prevalence in these sectors.
KPMG echoes this sentiment, revealing that IT departments take the lead in adopting Agile principles and approaches; in 2019, 50% of respondents were currently performing Agile pilots or adopting agility in their IT department.
And Agile has fans in the U.S. government, with 80% of federal IT projects reportedly using Agile project management or iterative approaches.
If you were to ask ten different researchers what percentage of IT projects were successful, you would get as many different answers. Yet, researchers can agree on one thing: the number of successful projects is lower than is ideal, but it's possible to change this.
McKinsey found that, regardless of project size, 59% of all IT projects are completed within budget, 47% are completed on time, and 44% deliver the intended benefits. This is good, but it isn’t the full story.
Just one in every 200 IT projects meets all three of these measures of success, and only one in every 14 is delivered on time and on budget. Projects that fail to meet one or more measures exceeded their budgets by 75%, overran their schedules by 46%, and generated 39% less value than predicted, on average. Yikes.
While most project teams don't experience colossal cost overruns, one in six IT projects looked at in one Harvard Business Review report had a cost overrun of 200%, on average. In one study on project success, the most extreme case saw a project come close to a 700% overrun.
Businesses can run into trouble when their large IT projects — those with budgets over $15 million — fail. McKinsey and the University of Oxford found that, on average, these projects run 45% over budget and 7% over time — yet also deliver 56% less value than predicted.
Plus, the longer a project is scheduled to run, the more likely it'll run over time and budget. Each additional year spent increases cost overruns by 15%.
These risks are not equally balanced across IT projects types. Software projects run a higher risk of cost and schedule overruns compared to nonsoftware projects, yet they see an average benefits shortfall of just 17% compared to 133%.
While costly, most businesses can weather these overruns. However, 17% of IT projects perform so poorly that they potentially threaten the company’s future. Known as 'black swans' these large projects can see budget overruns of between 200% and 400%.
Public-sector IT projects fail more often than private-sector projects, says McKinsey. 81% of public-sector IT projects overrun their schedules compared to 52% of private-sector projects, while public-sector organizations see three times higher cost overruns on average.
In fact, The U.S. Department of Defense reported that in 2020, its IT project spending was $37 billion, but only 35% of projects were within budget.
Why do so many IT projects fail? Project failure comes down to poor project management. McKinsey and the University of Oxford asked IT executives to identify the cause of their project cost overruns, distributing the 45% of failures as follows:
Poor project performance needn't be the norm. By making the following changes to their project management practices, IT teams can make sure they consistently deliver high-performing projects.
McKinsey research found many new digital practices and technologies can help improve large program implementations and — when combined with disciplined managerial and talent practices — can significantly increase success rates, potentially as high as 90%.
The Standish Group’s final CHAOS study, released in 2020, suggests a connection between decision-making and project success. Teams that have high decision latency skills deliver successful projects (63%) compared to skilled (28%), moderately skilled (20%), and poorly skilled teams (18%).
PMI found that those working in the IT sector highlighted communication (69%), problem-solving (63%), collaborative leadership (61%), and strategic thinking (56%) as the most useful critical power skills — interpersonal and soft skills — in helping them fulfill organizational objectives.
The true impact of IT projects extends far beyond project teams, or even their employers.
In fact, poor IT project management has the power to impact national economies — positively and negatively.
One estimate reported by Gallup suggests IT project failures represent a loss of $50 billion to $150 billion each year in the United States, while IT project failures cost the European Union €142 billion in 2004 alone.
But it’s not all bad news. Research commissioned by APM estimated IT and technology business’s project management activities contributed £7.5 billion to the UK economy in 2019.
Looking to start a career in IT project management? Here’s everything you need to know about IT project managers’ wages, popularity, and qualifications.
IT project management is a desirable and competitive career, and there are around 443,000 information technology project managers currently employed in the United States, according to Zippia.
When it comes to IT project management salaries, IT project managers earn more on average than those in non-IT roles. The average IT project manager salary is $99,682 in the US, according to Indeed.
As conversations around pay gaps and career accessibility continue, PMI uncovered a disparity between male and female project managers. In the IT industry, male project managers outnumber their female counterparts by more than 50%, with 78% identifying as male and just 20% identifying as female.
Looking forward, there’s a significant and growing gap between the number of available jobs and the amount of available talent in the IT project management sector.
According to PMI’s Talent Gap Report, the fastest-growing project management-oriented role will be in software development, with a projected increase of 14% between 2019 and 2030. An increasing demand for IT project managers suggests there will be opportunities available to those who want them.
Those in the industry mirror this sentiment; when asked by APM about how they felt about the future supply of project management jobs, 81% of IT sector respondents felt optimistic, while just 13% felt pessimistic.
The pressure to get projects over the line can create a culture of overworking; this is known as crunch time in game development. A recent developer satisfaction survey found that one-third of respondents' jobs involved crunch time, and a quarter (26%) worked more than 60 hours per week.
Unsurprisingly, employee productivity is a top business priority for IT projects. Computerworld’s latest forecast IT industry survey has ranked respondents' top five priorities as the following:
So, what can IT project managers do to increase project productivity while supporting employee satisfaction? Based on the latest project management statistics compiled here, we recommend project managers try the below:
Finally, why not use an intelligent resourcing tool to prevent poor resource management? By accurately forecasting your projects and supporting your team's wellbeing, you can begin increasing your IT projects' success rates today.
There are many tools available in the project management software market, but none are better for delivering profitable projects than Runn.
Looking to create a project schedule, but don't know where to start? Here's a step-by-step guide.
Project management can often feel a bit like fighting fires. But if you prepare ahead of time for how to tackle common project management challenges, things will work out a lot easier!