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New ways of working the greatest concern for Irish project managers

09 June, 2021

COVID-19 has improved the work-life balance for many Irish project managers, despite new ways of working being the greatest concern for the future. Project delays and communication barriers experienced as a result of COVID-19. Many project managers have felt less motivated despite incentives. Investment in digital technologies is set to increase. The role of project manager is seen to be more important than ever in the future. Large majority is confident about future revenues.

These are some of the key findings from the Project Management Pulse Survey 2021 undertaken by PwC and the Project Management Institute Ireland Chapter. The survey is published in advance of the 2021 National Project Awards organised by the Ireland Chapter of Project Management Institute, to be held virtually on Thursday, 24 June, hosted by PwC.

A photo of a woman manager talking at a meeting.

Over one in four (42%) Irish project managers reported that COVID-19 has improved their work-life balance. However, 55% feel less connected and 37% have noticed an increase in their stress levels. Nearly a third (29%) reported a decrease in their personal well-being.

Respondents also reported the key opportunities exploited as a result of the pandemic included a step up in digital transformation (36%), greater agility and better decision-making (32%) and greater operational efficiencies (32%).

Project delays and communication barriers – impacting motivation

60% reported a delay in project delivery due to COVID-19 mainly due to Government restrictions, poor team engagement and lack of resources. Communication barriers (48%), skills gaps (38%) and technical issues (31%) were also cited as areas that had become more difficult due to the pandemic.

These challenges impacted negatively on motivation; nearly a third (30%) noticed a decrease in their own motivation since working remotely. When asked about their team's motivation, 34% of respondents also reported a decrease in team motivation. This is despite an overwhelming majority (87%) reporting that their organisation had introduced incentives over the last 12 months to improve motivation within the team such as more flexible working (71%), wellness programmes (63%) and greater staff engagement and collaborative tools (40%).

Investment in digital transformation set to increase

The importance of digital innovation and new technologies is clear. With many having worked remotely for over a year, 85% of Ireland's project managers said that digital transformation incorporating new technologies is the top area for further investment over the next three years. Other areas for investment include initiatives to realise cost efficiencies (70%) and upskilling (51%).

Just half (50%) reported plans to invest in sustainability and climate change initiatives over the next three years.

Feilim Harvey Portfolio and Programme Manager Leader, PwC Ireland said: "The survey suggests that Irish project managers have withstood the storm of COVID-19 and are emerging with confidence. In fact, it is clear that Project Management disciplines have been key to organisations having the ability and agility to adapt to these times. Despite many challenges, many, many projects have been successfully completed through the pandemic; and project managers are looking to the future with optimism. There is also a wave of investment in technology and people which is changing the project management landscape. The results of the survey also highlight it is also more important than ever to protect people and their well-being while navigating the new ways of working.

"Whilst COVID-19 has caused widespread disruption, it has also provided momentum and an opportunity to reconfigure the business model for the long term".

Role of the project manager to become even more important

The survey highlights the important role of the project manager. A large majority (74%) of respondents said that project management capabilities have been very important in addressing a crisis such as COVID-19. A similar proportion (73%) agreed that the role of the project manager will become even more important over the next two years. However, from previous surveys we know that developing the necessary skills to exploit efficiencies and opportunities arising from digital tools has been a challenge.

Resilient, positive outlook

Despite some challenges, Ireland's project management industry is resilient and confident about the future. The top three concerns for the year ahead, according to participating project managers, are adjusting to new ways of working following the reopening of the economy (72%); the health and well-being of their workforce (64%) and the availability of key skills (62%).

At the same time, over nine out of ten (93%) are  'confident' about their organisation's prospects for future revenue growth in the year ahead, including 58% who are  'very confident '. 65% expect to increase headcount.

Jackie Glynn, President of the Ireland Chapter of Project Management Institute commented: "These survey results show that the project management community is resilient, optimistic and adaptable. Project managers have had to draw on and develop their skillsets – the ability to manage change, adapt to external and internal disruptions, and continue to deliver projects that perform, within budget and on schedule. In a post-pandemic work environment, organisational flexibility, a greater emphasis on transparency and leveraging emerging technologies will be key to ensuring businesses stay ahead of the curve".

Notes to editors

About the survey: The survey was conducted by PwC and the Irish Chapter of the Project Management Institute at the end of April or early May having 100 Irish project managers participants representing all key industry sectors (Public and Private) including: Healthcare, Technology, Financial Services, Banking and Utilities.

The survey is published in advance of the 2021 Irish National Project Management Awards organised by the Project Management Institute Ireland Chapter to be held virtually on Thursday 24 June.

Ireland's 50,000 project managers are responsible for the delivery of some of Ireland's largest projects, public and private, managing significant resources and teams. They are change-makers empowering teams to bring ideas to reality, on time and within budget.

About Ireland Chapter of Project Management Institute

There are 1,580 members within the Ireland Chapter of PMI, the largest professional organisation for project managers in Ireland. There are currently over 50,000 employed in project management across Ireland, in sectors such as IT, public sector, construction, pharmaceuticals, professional services, financial services and manufacturing.


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Féilim Harvey

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Tel: +353 1 792 8631

Johanna Dehaene

Corporate Communications, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6547

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