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European business in chaos, according to new report

The Chaos Theory research surveyed 1,240 people who manage projects across six European countries[1], drilling deep into the factors that contribute to inefficient collaboration and project management practices and their impact on productivity, individuals’ well-being and business success. 

“Old habits kill productivity and are hard to get rid of,” says Tobias Andersson, Chief Operating Officer of Projectplace. “Project success requires a balance of elements, including building a motivated team, easy collaboration and getting things done on time and within budget. When balance is achieved, projects run like clockwork. But, it just takes one of those elements to slip, disrupting the balance and resulting in chaos. If the team misses a single email, the knock-on effect can be a delay in the project, a disgruntled customer, and even lost revenues.”

Time and money matter

The Chaos Theory research shows that ineffective ways of working cost a lot for businesses. Project managers waste an average of 2 hours and 45 minutes a week due to inefficient practices, equating to 20 working days a year in lost productivity. 

Putting stretched budgets and timelines under the microscope, the findings reveal that one in five (19%) of all projects run late and 14% run over budget. Project managers admit that if they are working on eight or more projects, things spiral out of control, with one in three (32%) projects delayed and a quarter (26%) exceeding the agreed budget. 

“In a bid to maximise productivity, organisations are placing huge pressure on project managers to deliver on complex business initiatives with smaller budgets and tighter timelines,” says Yohan Abrahams, president of the UK Chapter of the PMI. ”Inefficient business practices can result in poor productivity levels, as highlighted by the Chaos Theory study. This ultimately has a knock-on effect on the bottom line, as projects overrun.

“In order to address the new challenges posed by a complex environment, organisations need to equip project managers with new technologies that address their pain points and foster a collaborative working culture. More effective project management and collaboration practices support businesses’ competitiveness in the digital economy.”

Technology – help or hindrance?

Recognising the need for more effective ways of working in the always-connected, mobile workplace, half (52%) of project managers have adopted new tools. They feel that tapping into better tools could result in more time saved (82%), better control of costs (69%), lower stress levels (81%), and a stronger sense of team (71%). 

Yet only half (52%) say their organisation’s IT department supports the use of new technologies. Security and integrity of sensitive data is a key concern. Two-thirds (64%) of project managers say they can access sensitive data in their organisation yet only half can easily see who has read, changed or downloaded a shared document (54%). 

Collaboration chaos 

The research highlights that dispersed teams working across different geographies and time zones struggle to work together effectively, with over a third (37%) of respondents citing a lack of communication as a major headache. 

Email (76%) remains the top communication method. Limits on mailbox sizes (26%) and challenges of finding specific emails (38%) are some of people’s email pet hates. The number of emails received leaves one in three (35%) project managers feeling stressed. 

Stressed and over-worked

The research also shows that project managers are feeling over-worked and under pressure. Almost two-thirds (63%) work on their days off or during weekends to keep on top of their to-do list. One in three (31%) admit to not being able to complete their work during working hours, and two-thirds (67%) respond to emails outside of working hours. Under pressure, around half (48%) of project managers feel that their personal life is often affected by work-related stress. 

Tobias Andersson concludes: “The collaboration and project management chaos is harmful for businesses because it can damage their reputation and bottom line. Just imagine if sensitive customer data gets into the wrong hands due to ineffective working practices. Businesses have everything to gain by addressing the chaos, and technology plays a central role in this. By exploring new methods and tools, they can propel smarter, goal-driven collaboration.”

To help businesses tackle the chaos, Projectplace has developed the Chaos Theory Manifesto. Read the full Chaos Theory research report and manifesto here. 



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