Lack of Clarity in the Scope of Projects is a Major Challenge for Project Managers

BIA’s annual survey of project managers at ProjectWorld 2003 in Toronto indicated that ‘Lack of Clarity in the Scope of the Project’ was the number one challenge facing their organizations. This issue jumped by 4 percentage points from last year, moving from 49% to 53% to take the number one position ahead of ‘Shifting Organizational Priorities’ (41 percent…down 9 percentage points from last year). Some of the other top challenges that the 331 respondents identified were ‘Project Risk Not Assessed Or Managed’ (37 percent), ‘Project Changes Not Well-Managed’ (37 percent) and ‘A Lack of Project Management Skills’ (35 percent).

The results of the survey confirms our own observations,” said Michael Stanleigh, President of Business Improvement Architects. “We audit many projects in crisis every year. Reasons for lack of clarity of scope in a project are often due to the need for greater strategic perspective or an attempt to do too much in a given project. To bring projects back on track, the project team must go back and re-define these elements, including a clear understanding of the needs of the stakeholders. This provides a solid foundation for the project plan and a basis for future project decisions.

The second biggest challenge of ‘Shifting Organizational Priorities’ also linked to responses by Project Managers about what could benefit them most in improving their ability to manage a project. 43% said that ‘Training Project Sponsors’ would help them better manage a project and 42% of respondents were looking for ‘Advanced Project Management Skills Training’.

This is the third year that BIA has polled at ProjectWorld Toronto. Key trends over the past 3 survey years include an increasing concern that: ‘Project Does Not Include All Stakeholder Needs’ (+6 percentage points since 2001), that ‘Projects Are Not Well Managed’ (+2 percentage points since 2001) and that there is ‘A Lack of Project Management Skills’ (+2 percentage points since 2002). Michael Stanleigh summarizes, “These trends indicate that project management training requires a thorough understanding of the project planning process. If organizations do not implement a flexible step-by-step methodology for managing their projects, it is difficult for project teams to meet their project goals because they find it hard to adapt their planning to their project situations. BIA is unique as a project management training organization because we teach project management as a step-by-step process and not as a tools and templates methodology. As a result, our process approach not only helps to develop project planning skills, but also allows project team members to fully understand the entire planning process so that they may adapt it to different types and sizes of projects.”

A graphical representation of the ProjectWorld 2003 survey results is available in Adobe format. To view this document, click here.

Sally Stanleigh

Sally Stanleigh is a senior partner in Business Improvement Architects and the Chief Operating Officer. Sally manages the operation and develops and implements communications, marketing and promotion programs. She is also responsible for spearheading and managing the company's corporate research projects. Sally has a background in marketing and communications and previously worked as a senior product manager with multi-national corporations such as Colgate-Palmolive and Phillip Morris before founding Business Improvement Architects with her husband and partner, Michael Stanleigh.

On occasion, Sally is asked by clients for help with business planning. She facilitates the planning process as a consultant and helps clients with the development of their marketing plans and programs. She has also presented to professional groups on such topics as: customer feedback systems, employee motivation, development of incentive programs and trends.

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