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14 Surprising Project Management Statistics

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Update: 11/2/2015: As can be expected, the project management landscape has changed even more over the past two years. We’ve updated this post with 20, instead of the original 14, surprising project management statistics so that this list stays up to date.

The project management landscape is changing.

With an increased emphasis on efficiency, reporting, and a newfound stress on the information technology industry, being a project manager today is radically different than being a project manager in 2005.


With the changes in the industry, it’s easy to lose track of how often projects fail, what that can cost companies, and how the PM role has changed. Below are 20 surprising statistics that reveal how project management is performing across industries.

1. One in six IT projects have an average cost overrun of 200% and a schedule overrun of 70%. (Source: Harvard Business Review<<Tweet this stat

2. The United States economy loses $50-$150 billion per year due to failed IT projects. (Source: Gallup Business Review<<Tweet this stat

3. 75% of business and IT executives anticipate their software projects will fail. (Source: Geneca<<Tweet this stat


4. 50% of all Project Management Offices (PMOs) close within just three years. (Source: KeyedIN<<Tweet this stat

5. Fewer than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget over the past year. (Source: Standish Group<<Tweet this stat

6. Barely over half (56%) of project managers are certified. (Source: Wrike<<Tweet this stat

project management certification

Source: Wrike

7. An astounding 97% of organizations believe project management is critical to business performance and organizational success. (Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers<<Tweet this stat

8. The median salary for project managers is $87,500 in the U.S. (Source: Glassdoor<<Tweet this stat

9. There are projected to be 15 million new project management jobs within the decade. (Source: Project Management Institute<<Tweet this stat

10. 33% of projects fail because of a lack of involvement from senior management. (Source: University of Ottawa<<Tweet this stat

11. Businesses identified “capturing time/costs against projects” as their biggest project management challenge. (Source: The Access Group<<Tweet this stat

project managemetn 2

Source: TheAccessGroup

12. Reliability, ease of use, and ease of integration are the top three requirements project managers look for when shopping for software. (Source: The Access Group<<Tweet this stat

13. 66% of project managers identified level of support as the key decider in investing in a new software. (Source: The Access Group<<Tweet this stat

14. 44% of project managers use no software, even though PWC found that the use of commercially available PM software increases performance and satisfaction. (Source: Pricewaterhouse Coopers<<Tweet this stat

15. Two-thirds of companies are communicating with clients using project management software. (Source: Capterra)<<Tweet this stat

16. Project managers were 13% less likely to use story mapping tools in 2014 than in 2013. (Source: VersionOne<<Tweet this stat


17. 75% of IT executives believe their projects are “doomed from the start.” (Source: Geneca<<Tweet this stat

18. High-performing organizations successfully complete 89% of their projects, while low performers complete only 36%. (Source:<<Tweet this stat

19. 63% of companies defer to executives to decide when to eliminate or put off a project. (Source: InformationWeek)<<Tweet this stat

20. 49% of organizations have a project management training program in place. (Source: PM Solutions<<Tweet this stat

What other statistics do you think are relevant to the PM industry is it continues to evolve? Add them in the comments below!

Don’t want to become a statistic? Capterra offers a directory of over 350 different kinds of project management software products to help project managers find their software solutions.

Looking for Project Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Project Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Rachel Burger

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Rachel is a Content Marketing Analyst for Capterra, a free online resource that quickly matches businesses to their software needs. She specializes in construction, project management and school administration . She also runs her own blog on content marketing. On the rare occasion Rachel isn't writing, she's reading, hiking, jogging, or spending time with her friends and family.


The 1st stat you share is misleading. One in six projects does not have cost overruns of 200% and a schedule overrun of 70%. But one in six of the 1,471 projects studied by the authors did. You should make the clarification or removed the stat in good conscience.


“We examined 1,471 projects”
“Fully one in six of the projects we studied was a black swan”

Thanks for your comment, Scot! A sample size of over 1,000 is a good representation of IT projects.

Hi Rachel, A nice compilation of stats. There have been some misgivings about the CHAOS reports but we have to go with stats.

Praveen Malik

[…] aren’t using suitable project management techniques. In fact, according to Standish Group, less than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget in the last […]

One significant contributor to numbers 1 and 5 on your list is optimism bias on the part of individuals who create schedule or budget estimates. The second factor contributing to late completions and over-budget completions is a failure to include the effects of risk in the project schedule and budget.

For example, if one simply uses a three-point estimate (as in PERT) to specify task duration the tendency is for the estimator to select the Most Likely value based on a degree of optimism – which is also echoed in the Best Case estimate. Consequently if one computes the critical path using the “best case” values one will inevitably come up with an optimistic estimate of duration. Since many project costs are labor driven, the underestimated duration translates into an underestimated cost. When reality sets in these costs are often overrun.

The better approach is to compute an unweighted mean of the triangular formed by the three estimates (Best Case + Most Likely + Worst Case) divided by 3. This is the value that should be used in computing schedule and cost. My research shows that using the most likely value creates an estimate that is less than 50% likely to be achieved whereas the mean value tends to be closer to 50 percent likely.

There are techniques to reduce optimism bias such as ensuring you always ask for the most likely value first than ask for the other two values and the Delphi approach.

Look for my upcoming article on this estimating technique to create better estimates in the upcoming edition (Fall 2015) of the Journal of Contract Management.

How about a statistic on the percentage of projects which become obsolete before delivery? Perhaps what makes them obsolete and how many are completed and how many are abandoned.

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