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Top Three Reasons Singapore-Managed Projects Fail

Survey Indicates Need for Increased Skills Assessment and Development

Singapore - June 25 2008

The results of a new survey conducted by ESI International report the top three reasons projects fail are a result of knowledge gaps in essential project managements skills, including schedule and change management; risk management; budget and cost management; and lack of business analyst involvement on projects.

Respondents reported that the top three reasons projects fail are:

  • Unexpected requirements arise/inadequate scope control – 75.9%
  • Inadequate schedule planning/control – 49.4%
  • Inadequate risk planning/control – 39.2%

Shortfalls in program management and business analysis skills underlie many of the survey respondents’ concerns. Consequences of troubled projects are of great importance, given the vast number of multinational projects managed from here. Respondents noted that more than 72 percent of their projects were multinational with 30.4 percent stating they worked exclusively on international projects.

Among the survey highlights:

  • When asked about common project challenges respondents reported that schedule/change management represented the most common challenge, identified by 53.2 percent. This was followed by language/communications skills (34.2%); aligning multiple cultures (29.1%); working with multiple governments/regulations (24.1%); managing business requirements and end products (21.5%); and risk management (19%).
  • When asked to identify the key skills needed for multinational projects, 92.4 percent of respondents identified leadership/team building as essential or very important. This was followed by language/communication skills (83.6%); budget/cost management (81.0%); schedule management (79.8%); and customer stakeholder management (78.4%).
  • Respondents felt their own PM skills were strong in leadership/team building (40.5%); language/communications skills (34.2%); and customer/stakeholder management (32.9%). Few felt strong in risk management (20.3%) or budget/cost management (25.3%).
  • However, when asked to identify the weakest skill areas for Singapore PM professionals overall, respondents indicated leadership/team building as most in need of development (35.4%), followed by risk management (33.0%), requirements/change management (22.8%) and schedule management (21.5%).

“The survey results clearly indicate that while the project management profession matures here, the need to assess individual and organization project management maturity is more important than ever,” said Mark Bashrum, ESI International, Regional Vice President - Asia. “With some professionals and organizations leaping ahead, assessments are essential to ensure that the right learning is provided and delivers results.”

Business Analyst Roles Seen as Key

While 73.4 percent of respondents said having a business analyst as part of the team was essential or very important to ensuring that a project delivers successfully, only 31.6 percent of respondents reported including a BA as part of the project team always or most of the time. 38 percent of respondents said they never or rarely included business analysts as part of the project team.

Having a project or programme management office was identified by 59.5 percent of respondents as the most important action an organization can take to ensure projects are properly aligned with organizational goals. The percentage of respondents with a PMO were equally split, with 50.8 percent reporting having a PMO and 49.2 percent reporting they did not.

“The concerns on the use of BAs and the deployment of PMOs indicate that Singapore is exhibiting the maturation of the PM profession as we have previously seen in the US and Europe,” said Bashrum. “This further reinforces the need to use assessments to identify knowledge gaps and then deploy learning programs to address those specific needs.”

Survey Methodology

This online survey was conducted in May and June 2008. Survey respondents were Singapore-based project management and business analysis professionals, representative of numerous industries including IT, telecommunications, manufacturing, financial services, energy and pharmaceuticals. All respondents answering demographic questions reported belonging to a project management professional organization. The majority work for organizations with more than 1,000 employees (56.9%).


About ESI International

ESI International, is a global project-focused training company, helping people around the world improve the way they manage projects, contracts, requirements and vendors through innovative training in project management, business analysis and contract management. In addition to ESI’s more than 100 courses delivered in more than a dozen languages at hundreds of locations worldwide, ESI offers several certificate programs through our educational partner, The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1981, ESI’s worldwide headquarters are in Arlington, Va., USA. To date, ESI’s programs have benefited more than 1.35 million professionals worldwide. For more information visit