Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Project Management Research Topics

"Avant-garde music is sort of research music.  You’re glad someone’s done it but you don’t necessarily want to listen to it.”

                                                                                                - Brian Eno

I am a regular reader of the Project Management Journal and take a keen interest in the latest research on the project management profession.  While some of the content is abstrusely academic and some just doesn’t apply to me, it is rare that I don’t find several articles that interest me.
While I appreciate the research that Project Management Journal brings me, I am a practitioner, not a researcher.  That said, my experience affords me a direct exposure to anecdotal evidence of themes, patterns and practices relevant to our profession.  What I don’t know is whether these anecdotal observations are representative or outliers.

Therefore, I’ve reviewed all my posts and tagged a few with “Project Management Research” to indicate I’ve made an assertion in that post that would benefit from an objective application of the scientific method.  I thus invite and encourage any students looking for project management research topics to review these posts and conduct the appropriate research to (in)validate my premise.  I offer these topics freely.  I ask that you provide me with the published results.  I’ll post them here, supportive or non, with generous credit to you.
To get you started, here is a summary of all of the posts I’ve tagged and the outstanding research question in each.


Hypothesis:  Consultancy PM environments can be distinguished from P&SD PM environments (core skill, priority, metrics, milestones vs deliverables, scope vs cost, domain knowledge vs monitor/ control, shared with support/ maintenance).

Hypothesis:  Consultancy PM organizations are more successful at delivering projects than P&SD PM organizations.

The Project Manager’s Cycle [Published:  01/31/2011]

Hypothesis:  That the activities documented constitute the Managing & Controlling cycle.

Hypothesis:  That PMs (or organizations) that follow these best practices are more successful at delivering projects.

The Project Manager’s Cycle – Redux  [Published:  12/31/2012]

Hypothesis:  That the activities documented constitute the Managing & Controlling cycle.

Hypothesis:  That PMs (or organizations) that follow these best practices are more successful at delivering projects.

Project Failures & The Chaos Reports [Published:  06/26/2011]

This post identifies a host of research opportunities:  distinguishing between success rates for professionally managed projects versus ad hoc managed projects;  perception of success vs failure by different stakeholders on the same project;  different “types” of project failure;  etc.

The Root Cause of IT Project Failure [Published:  07/04/2011]

Hypothesis:  Failure of novel projects is due to the project team committing to a schedule too soon.


Hypothesis:  That Estimate to Complete (ETC) is superior to Percent Complete for determining accurate project status and providing earlier indication of problems.

The Schedule – Basics [Published:  11/27/2012]

Hypothesis:  Organizations that well-formed schedules have superior project success rates than organizations that do not use these practices.

The Schedule – Risk Buffers [Published:  12/28/2012]

Hypothesis:  Organizations that apply quantitative risk analysis have superior project success rates than organizations that do not.


Hypothesis:  That PERT practices for determining standard deviation are valid.

Hypothesis:  That schedules developed using PERT scheduling techniques more accurately reflect actual results than schedules developed from other techniques.

I look forward to learning about and learning from the research you conduct on any of these topics.  Further, I’m happy to assist you with defining and refining the research instruments.
© 2013 Chuck Morton.  All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) ® credential is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers. Recently I went for a PMP prep course by the training provider mentioned above, the instructor was too good and I passed with relative ease. Looking forwards to apply what I learned in PMP class in my company.

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