Dr. Chris Sauer began examining project management practices a decade ago and led a large survey initiative in the UK in 2002. He joined forces with Drs. Blaize Reich and Andrew Gemino in 2003 and together they have deployed surveys in the US and conducted interviews in the UK, US, Canada and New Zealand.
The PMPerspectives research team has published research results in international journals, book chapters and trade magazines and has travelled the world to present its findings at conferences and symposiums.
At present, there are three principal streams of research:
- IT Project Performance
- Knowledge and Learning in IT Projects
- The Evolving Role of the Project Manager
Below you will find information on the research projects and the publications. To obtain a copy of any of the publications, please email us at info@PMPerspectives.org
The UK Survey 2002-2003
The Ohio Survey 2004
Interviews in the UK, US and Canada about the changes in projects and PMs
Interviews in Canada and New Zealand regarding the use of Knowledge in IT Projects UK Surveys 2002-2003
In 2002 and 2003, Dr. Chris Sauer partnered with French Thornton, a consulting firm, and Computer Weekly, a weekly newspaper for IT professionals, to explore the realities of IT projects in the UK. An initial email and follow-up request to participate in the study were sent to readers registered as project managers on the Computer Weekly site. They collected the survey data between October 2002 and January 2003 using web-based forms.
The UK survey had four parts. Each part was delivered independently so it was not necessary for participants to answer all survey parts. Part 1, which received 421 responses, focused on IT project performance and factors affecting performance. Part 2, which received 751 responses, focused on characteristics of project managers. Part 3, which received 336 responses, collected data about the management of project managers within organizations. Part 4 asked questions relating to the relationship between project managers and sponsors.
While the age and experience changed for each of the survey samples, the participants on average had a high level of IT project experience. For example, respondents in the first survey indicated an average of more than 17 years of IT industry experience and a little more than nine years as project manager.
The questions used in each survey are available by request. Please contact us at info@PMPerspectives.org to request a copy or for more information.
US Ohio PMI Survey 2004
The PMPerspectives research team used a survey to explore the influence of several project characteristics (e.g. size, sponsor support, project management practices) on project performance.
We created a survey using an online survey instrument called SurveyMonkey
The survey underwent both a pre-test and pilot phase. In the pre-test phase, study-team members tested the online questionnaire. In the pilot phase, we asked seven project managers to fill in the survey and provide feedback through interviews. The pilot test revealed additional information on usability, language ambiguity and expected completion time. We then made final adjustments to the online survey.
We sent email invitations and follow-up requests to participate to project managers across six Project Management Institute (PMI) chapters in Ohio, USA. The exact number of potential participants is difficult to estimate due to email bounce-back and the fact that PMI includes IT and non-IT project managers. The invitation requested that only IT project managers answer the survey. A total of 523 first-time visitors clicked onto the survey website through the invitation. From these, we collected 223 responses, providing an effective response rate of 42.6 percent..
Our unit of analysis is the individual project. We asked respondents to provide information about the most recent project they had completed (either implemented or cancelled). We asked about the most recently completed project to ensure that respondents were considering projects for which there was a defined outcome while maintaining reasonable recall of project details.
Of the 223 respondents, 204 participants provided complete information regarding project performance indicators. A t-test comparison of the incomplete responses showed no significant difference in project manager experience, project budget or project duration. A subsequent review of respondents identified an additional 10 projects that were eliminated because of inconsistencies regarding project size and performance, giving a final sample size of 194.
The questions used in the survey are available by request. Please contact us at info@PMPerspectives.org to request a copy.
Interviews about the Changes in IT Projects and Project Managers
Data from the 2002/2003 survey suggested that IT projects were getting more complex and more difficult to execute. Drs. Reich and Sauer worked together on this interview project to try and understand more about the changes that were happening and how they were affecting senior project managers' roles and practices. They created interview questions to probe for these changes.
Dr Sauer selected a sample of 18 project managers in the UK. He chose project managers with experience in big projects on the assumption that change was most likely to take place on big projects. He selected some respondents from the 2002/2003 UK survey whose projects were larger than £5M and who had said they would participate further. He also invited several PMs he knew through industry contacts and prior associations. From this beginning he expanded the sample by asking informants for suggestions regarding innovative and reflective project managers. Informants came from large consulting firms (e.g. Accenture, EDS), large product and services firms (e.g. Oracle, Fujitsu), smaller consulting firms and large and small business firms.
Dr. Reich selected a sample of 21 project managers in Canada and the US by starting with her CIO (chief information officer) contacts. By asking them to recommend one or two very reflective and proactive project managers, she was able to start a "snowball" technique in which current respondents recommend additional respondents. Interviewees were a mix of in-house project managers and consulting project managers in organizations that ranged from small to very large (e.g. IBM). The high-level interview protocol was sent to the interviewees before the interview so they could reflect on the questions.
After transcribing and coding the interviews, Drs. Reich and Sauer analyzed the data together, looking for themes, best practices, innovative tips, and evidence of evolution.Interviews in North America and New Zealand about the use of Knowledge Management in IT Projects
This interview-based research was designed to gather feedback on a model created by Dr. Blaize Reich that reveals knowledge risks in IT projects. Dr Reich created the interview protocol based on the model and then administered it to a sample of 15 project managers from Canada, the US and New Zealand.
Dr. Reich started with some of the project managers previously interviewed for the evolving-roles study - those who had expressed interest in the knowledge management work. She then proceeded to use the snowball technique using these PMs and her contacts in business.
The research was published in the Project Management Journal (Reich, June 2007).