Shifting Organizational Priorities a Major Challenge for Project Managers

BIA’s annual survey of project managers at ProjectWorld 2002 in Toronto indicated that “Shifting Organizational Priorities” was the number one challenge facing their organizations. This issue jumped by 7 percentage points from last year, moving from 43% to 50% to take the number one position ahead of “Lack of clarity in the scope of the project” (49 percent). Some of the other challenges that the 329 respondents identified were “Project changes not well-managed” (40 percent) and “Project risk not assessed or managed” (36 percent).

“The results of the survey confirms our own observations.” said Michael Stanleigh, President of Business Improvement Architects. “We have seen an increase in the pace of change in organizations in the past 12 months, but we have not seen an improvement in the way organizations clarify the scope and manage risk and change. The jump in concern over shifting organizational priorities is indicative of a lack of strategic perspective for projects being executed.

Sponsors need to show how projects link to the organization’s strategic direction because strategic alignment is a critical part of scoping a project. BIA believes that by following a comprehensive planning process and methodology that clarifies scope and accounts for potential changes through the course of the project improves the overall success rate of projects within an organization.”

The 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. Forty-seven (47%) percent said that “Training their Project Sponsors” would help them to better manage a project. As well, 42% of respondents were looking for “Advanced project management skills training.”

Mr. Stanleigh added “The need for better understanding of the importance of project management and support for project management practices at senior levels in the organization is critical to improving the success or projects. BIA sees projects as one important part of the overall organizational effectiveness model. To assist project managers within their organization, senior managers would be advised to better understand how the management of projects fits in with the organization’s overall goals and objectives, and provide the appropriate level of support to those project managers.”

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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