PMI® Pulse of the Profession 2018

Key Points, Insights and Themes from this Year's Report

“If your organisation is not good at project management, you’re putting too much at risk in terms of ultimately delivering on strategy”

- Mark A. Langley, PMI President and CEO

Now in its 10th edition, the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Pulse of the Profession® study is the leading global survey of project management industry professionals.

Pulse of the Profession® looks at what’s happening in project management right now and identifies trends for the future. It’s a report that provides key insights for business and individual project managers alike.

If you have time to read through the full 36-page report, you can access it here.

If your schedule is tight today, we’ve summarised the most important nuggets of information below.

You can also download our free guide, "Pulse of the Profession 2018 - Key Points, Insights and Themes" to keep as a handy reference.

Pulse of the Profession® 2018 - "Success in Disruptive Times"

The full title of the 2018 report also includes “Expanding the Value Delivery Landscape to Address the High Cost of Low Performance”

5,402 professionals were surveyed for the 2018 survey, across multiple industries and an almost global expanse.

This year, the report focused on the need to expand value delivery capability, and addressed just how much poor project performance costs businesses.

It also focused on “disruption”, which refers to the fast pace we live and work in today, and the digitalisation of business and project management practices.

There are many varied and exciting statistics and observations within the report, but all anchor back to these 3 key insights:

Pulse of the Profession® 2018 - Key Insights

Project management is the bridge between ideas and achievement
  • Effective project management is the bridge between great ideas and strategy, and realisation of those ideas and strategies.
  • Top-performing organisations realise this, and focus on expanding their value delivery capabilities.
  • The cost of poor project performance is one that businesses cannot afford to pay.

The opening letter from PMI President and CEO, Mark A. Langley immediately addresses these messages, providing a platform for the rest of the report to build on. He cites 3 major reasons for poor project performance, and notes 3 ways to work towards project success.

Champions and Underperformers

Where does your team or organisation fall in the categories of “Champion” and “Underperformer”?

The PMI defines Champions as:

“Organizations with 80% or more of projects being completed on time, on budget, meeting business intent, and having high benefits realization maturity.”

Underperformers are identified as:

“Organizations with 60% or fewer projects being completed on time, on budget, meeting business intent, and having low benefits realization maturity.”

Clearly, we all want to be champions and see our businesses become champion organisations. Luckily, the 2018 Pulse of the Profession threads the characteristics of both throughout the report, anchoring them to the key messages outlined above.

How does Project Management look across the globe right now?

Here’s a snapshot of some of the most important elements we drew from the Pulse’s report on the current state of global project management:

93% of organisations surveyed are using standardised practices, resulting in lower risk and greater visibility.


72% recognise the huge importance of certification and continual development of their project management talent.

41% of those surveyed are focused on aligning their key project management teams with organisational strategies.


71% of participants reported a growth in agility within the past 5 years.

1 in 3 surveyed stated a strong focus on benefits in addition to the traditional “time, scope and cost” factors.

1 in 3

Align your project management team with your business strategies…

This is another crucial factor to achieving project success. In fact, 41% of those surveyed in the Pulse 2018 are already working on this. We’ve already established through point 1 of the key takeaways, that project managers are the bridge between ideas and success.

Align your team with your business objectives

This does not only apply at a project level. As project managers are the implementers of most, if not all, of the strategies devised by the leadership team, it is wise to keep your key project team involved in organisational strategy meetings.

Driving Project Success

Let’s pause here before moving from our view of the present to predictions for the future.

Amidst the important information included in the 2018 Pulse of the Profession, we felt that the 3 key takeaways, and the following 3 points on driving project success were the most inspiring.

  • Invest in Actively Engaged Executive Sponsors

    We are already on this page. As we noted in our earlier article about The Lean Journey, any transformational change or drive in business of any size needs support and full investment from the leadership team.
  • Prevent Scope Creep with Greater Scope Control

    Scope creep can seriously disrupt a project, even driving it off the road in some cases. It follows that achieving your project goals comes from implementing measures to avoid scope creep.
  • Expand Value Delivery Capabilities

    This is a huge part of 2018’s Pulse of the Profession, and with good reason. Maximising your organisation’s ability to deliver value, and expanding the ways in which you do this makes sense.

Project Management in the Future…

“according to our Job Growth and Talent Gap report, by 2027, employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management–oriented roles, increasing the need for skilled and experienced project and program managers.” - Pulse of the Profession®, 2018

Disruption and Digital Transformation

The way we work is changing. Our fast-paced world demands that businesses keep up with rapid changes, responding almost seamlessly to changing requirements and new developments.

New technologies are creating an opportunity for smarter and more intuitive ways to handle projects.

However, the Pulse notes that this digital transformation is currently a disruption. There has been an increase in projects experiencing the dreaded scope creep, which PMI believes is due to project managers are learning to work in new ways, utilising the new technologies available.

Achieving success in this changing environment is possible by working to the PMI Talent Triangle values. This means working towards a balance of technical project management skills, leadership skills, and strategic and business management approaches.

Putting it into Action

“When proven project management practices are employed, organisations experience greater success” - Mark A. Langley, PMI President and CEO

You can see that even though we’ve tried to keep it brief, even summarising the sheer amount of great information in the 2018 Pulse of the Profession Survey takes up quite a bit of space!

If you’d like to read more on what we found useful from this survey, why not take a look at these articles?

If you’re ready to start working towards becoming a “Champion” organisation, why not take a look at our public or in-company PMI exam prep training options.

In-Company, Tailored Training

We offer all of these courses as tailored, in-company programmes. This is a style of training where we customise the content to focus on your business needs, while also adhering to the syllabus outlined for the PMI certification you have chosen.

We come to your location, delivering training exclusively to your team, on a date that works best for your schedule.

You can learn more here.