In a slowly reopening world under macroeconomic pressure, Smartsheet’s survey shows that Australian organisations—regardless of industry—are experiencing a resource recession in which they must function with limited personnel, support, or employees with the proper training or experience. Nearly one in five (18%) of Australian respondents manage projects despite the function not being within the scope of their job title or job description. 50% of these respondents—the “citizen project managers” moving work forward—claim they were at least somewhat unprepared for the first project they managed and 17% were mostly or completely unprepared. Further, nearly all (90%) respondents have seen or experienced negative consequences from the challenges of working with an improperly managed project team, including having to work more hours, duplicating work and missing deadlines.
“Australia’s talent shortage means more employees are expected to assume additional work that they are not trained or qualified for,” said Nigel Mendonca, Vice President, Asia Pacific, Smartsheet. “Instead of accepting burn out and poor business outcomes, leaders have a unique opportunity to transform the way work is done for the better by thinking innovatively when it comes to project and process management.”
Although results show that we are in a resource recession, the survey also revealed an opportunity for organisations to move towards a resource revolution. To do this, leaders need to shift away from the idea of measuring success against deadlines and instead focus on their people and implementing the right technology. In order to make this shift, the report found three key takeaways:
Support is sacred, and teams need more of it
Although the people doing the work recognise–and actively push for–support, the report found that 45% of Australian respondents believe their organisation doesn’t staff projects appropriately, with 31% saying projects are understaffed. Just 43% feel their company is investing as it should in tools and processes to address common project management challenges. With so many doing project-based work today, there’s a greater need for foundational project support, with regards to both resources and tools, and senior leaders must recognise that, too.
The “middle work” is most critical to a project’s success and to avoid employee burnout
The middle work, or the tasks and processes that make up a project, is where the project moves forward, but it can also be where projects break down. Nearly three-quarters of Australian employees expect their company to ask project teams to accomplish even more with less in the near future (73%), and over half of project professionals expect deadlines to stay the same moving forward (54%). This shows that things aren’t slowing down, regardless of whether teams have the resources or tools to be successful. In order to overcome these challenges, teams need to focus less on deadlines and more on the middle work that will take the project from start to finish. Report data shows that irrespective of deadlines, there is a clear connection between effectively managed projects and job satisfaction, with almost half (45%) of Australian employees reporting that when projects run smoothly stress is lower.
Repeated work is wasted work
Projects are only as good as the processes they’re built on. Since the middle work is so critical, the best way to ensure the success of a project is to take learnings and insights and turn them into scalable, repeatable processes. The report showed that when projects have an experienced project manager, Australian respondents felt that work quality was higher (53%), more efficient (49%), within budget (42%) and that there was greater collaboration between teams (41%).
To read the full Future of Work Management 2023 report and insights for you and your company, click here.
Smartsheet (NYSE: SMAR) is the enterprise platform for modern work management. By aligning people and technology so organisations can move faster and drive innovation, Smartsheet enables its millions of users to achieve more. Visit www.smartsheet.com to learn more.
The Smartsheet Future of Work Management Report survey was conducted in September 2022 by Wakefield Research among 8,000 employed adults aged 18-74, who work at companies with a minimum of 50 employees, evenly distributed among the following markets: United States, UK, Australia, and DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). All respondents self-reported that they engage, in some capacity, in project-based work, as defined as “projects that have a beginning and an end.” These project professionals—who represent about 60% of the adult employed audience who work in companies with 50+ employees—span a wide range of industries from IT and business services, to healthcare and pharma, to banking and finance, and construction and manufacturing and a wide range of titles and levels within their organisations.