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21 Free Project Management Reports to Boost Your Knowledge

21 Free Project Management Reports to Boost Your Knowledge

How do you feed your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and earn the Professional Development Units (PDUs) you need? YouTube videos can offer thin gruel once you get past the early stages of your career. And books and courses can cost you a lot of money. We offer all of these, but what if you want something more? Solid, in-depth knowledge at no cost. That’s where free Project Management reports offer a great solution.

So, we have done a round-up of some of the best. I’ve read them all (though not recently) and keep an archive of them on my hard drive. I suggest you do the same. So, in this article, I’ll classify them for you, and give you a short summary of what you can expect.

This article is something of a companion-piece to our earlier article on Project Management Surveys.

Why Read Free Project Management Reports?

21 Free Project Management Reports to Boost Your Knowledge

Because they’re interesting? That’s not a bad reason. Come to think of it, you may be like many professionals: you find your profession genuinely interesting. It‘s not just work, it’s a bit of a hobby too.

But you may need a stronger business case for giving up sme of your social, leisure, and down time to reading about project management. So, here are my top five reasons:

  1. Continuing Professional Development. If you have a membership fo a professional association like the Association for Project Management (APM) or the Project Management Institute (PMI), you need to maintain your CPD. And, if you don’t, maybe you should do so anyway… out of professional pride.
  2. Preparation for promotion or job interviews. This won’t be the core element in your promotion or winning your next new job. But it may be important. Many interviewers are keen to know how you think and what new ideas you are interested in.
  3. Breath of knowledge for presentations. If you need to give presentations, depth and breadth are important. Not only will they spice up your content, but they will give you a whole resource should you get asked a left-field question.
  4. Ideas to stimulate problem-solving and performance improvement. Is your project running so well that there is absolutely zero chance of improving it? Thought not! Where will your next idea come from? I often find that it’s the odd nugget or small aha moment that gives me the real value form these free project management reports.
  5. Conversation starters. Do you get stuck for something to say in those few minutes with senior colleagues, before a meeting starts? Read a new report each week or two and that will never happen.

Where to Look for Free Project Management Reports

The best places to find high quality free project management reports fall into two categories:

  1. The Professional Associations – and primarily, APM and PMI
  2. The High-end Consultancies – not all have a substantial focus on project management. But all of them do produce great reports if you want to read about wider management and business topics

All the reports I have selected have a direct and clear relevance to Project Management. But I recommend you do read more widely. One of the two secrets to professional wisdom is breadth of knowledge and understanding.

Our List of the Free Project Management Reports

We have split our list into sections;

Our Top Picks from the Free Project Management Reports

Whatever list I could produce, there will inevitably be some stars.

Are these four the best?
– Who knows?
– Probably not.

But they are the ones that I liked best for particular reasons.

Conditions for Project Success: The APM

This is the broadest and most basic of the free PM reports. But it is also highly engaging. It consists of 16 pages of colorful, compelling charts and bullet points. Experienced project managers will find fascinating snippets to drop into discussions and presentations. Newer PMs will get a lot of great insights from it.

Download from the APM website.

The Art of Project Leadership – Delivering the World’s Largest Projects: McKinsey

Another broad survey, but very different from the previous entry. This is a 72-page report that is more like a short book. And don’t be put off by the title, if you work in other sectors. There is more than enough wisdom from 27 highly-experienced practitioners here to keep you engaged. And, as you’d expect from a premiere global consultancy, its production is excellent.

Download from the McKinsey website.

Achieving Greater Agility: The People and Process Drivers that Accelerate Results: PMI

I wanted to select something on Agile and picked this one. It looks at the move to an Agile way of working and offers some fundamental steps along with case study illustration. This report derives from the PMI’s annual Pulse of the Profession surveys (the 2017 survey, in this case) and accompanied the launch of the 6th edition of their PMBOK Guide, along with its accompanying Agile Practice Guide.

Download from the PMI website.
Also look at the companion report: The Drivers of Agility: Engaging people and building processes to accelerate results.
Indeed, PMI has produced a whole series of reports under the banner of ‘Achieving Greater Agility’.

Climate Change And What the Project Management Profession Should Be Doing About It – A UK Perspectiv: APM

I have to salute the APM for tackling this vital issue. And I’d love to see more project management organizations engaging with it in a similarly coherent and intellectually honest way. Authored by one of the most eminent figures in Project Management, Peter Morris, this is a thorough and thought-provoking study of a crucial topic. But it is also highly readable.

Download from the APM website. Today!

Free Project Management Reports about Career Prospects

Most of what I’d put into here are really just survey findings with some analysis. But there is one report that came out since I did my roundup of project management surveys, which which is strong on analysis and reflection.

The Golden Thread: APM

The subtitle tells you what this report is about: ‘A study of the contribution of project management and projects to the UK’s economy and society’. This, like the APM’s climate change report (above) shows the APM turning outwards from itself in a way that is most welcome to me. Did you know that UK project managers add over GB150bn (US$200bn) to the economy?

Download from the APM website.

Skills-based Free Project Management Reports

As you’d expect, there are a lot more free PM reports that will help you hone your project management skills. But a lot of them are really either:

  • skills manuals, or
  • promotional in nature

I’ve picked four reports that will make you think about aspects f your professional practice.

How can we hand over projects better? APM

This report is full of great tips and includes a handy 12-part checklist. I really do think that if you create and use your own checklist from this report, it will help you increase the value of whatever you handover.

Download from the APM website.

Delivering Large-scale IT Projects on Time, on Budget, and on Value: McKinsey

The previous report starts with the distinction between cost and value. This one focuses on aligning IT with business value to avoid the endemic problem of large IT project coming in way over budget. I like this a lot and it nearly made my top picks list.

Download from the McKinsey website.

Stakeholder Challenge: Dealing with Difficult Stakeholders: APM

This report is somewhat thin. So, why did I include it? I did so because I particularly liked the framework it includes. y the way, our guest author, Elise Stevens, wrote an article for this website on the same topic. She takes a complementary approach.

Download from the APM website.

Coaching in the Project Environment: APM

You can’t accuse this report of being thin. It’s more like a small ebook. And it is full of great advice if you want to develop your leadership skills in the direction of supporting and developing the team members who work for you. At OnlinePMCourses, we are great believers in Coaching and Mentoring skills.

Download from the APM website.

Free Project Management Reports about Agile PM Topics

Agile isn’t quite as faddish as a ‘flavor of the month’, but there is a load of stuff out there about it. To learn more, check-out our guide. This does mean that I have chosen to be very selective. I’ve ditched all the how-to guides and all the promotional stuff. I’ve picked two articles for you…

Agile Project Delivery: KPMG

Strictly, this is a survey. But there’s a lot of thought-provoking analysis that addresses the question of whether Agile approaches can increase project success rates outside the strict IT development domain. This is a debate you need to be up on, so this is a report to read.

Download from the KPMG website.

Can Agile be Scaled: APM

Another fine APM report – this time looking at Scaled Agile tools and how you could implement them to deliver agile working across an organization. This makes a good companion to the previous report.

Download from the APM website.

Free Project Management Reports that Look to the Future of PM

Futurology is a staple of free reports from consultancies and professional associations. So, I have looked for examples that will give you focused information about futures that you are likely to encounter. I’ve avoided the crystal-ball gazing reports, because they are fun, but not really good CPD.

I’ve also left out one of the most recent and most provocative. This is because I covered it in detail, not long ago. Take a look at our article about the PMI’s 2019 report: ‘The Future of Work – Leading the Way with PMTQ’.

Maximizing the Benefits of Disruptive Technologies on Projects: PMI

This is another report that flows from the PMI’s annual Pulse of the Profession survey – the 2018 survey in this instance. This report is more about managing the impact of disruptive changes than about the changes themselves. But it does cite three powerful technological drivers for change that seem right to me. And, of course, this is a perfect scenesetter for the 2019 report on the future of work, I referred to above.

Download from the PMI website.

What’s Next? Identifying New Ways of Working

This looks at five specific trends i how we need to work and lead our teams, as project managers. I think it’s a good companion to the rpevious entry here.

Download from the PMI website.
You may also like PMI’s report: ‘The Project Manager of the Future: Developing digital-age project management skills to thrive in disruptive times‘.

Introduction to Gamification: APM

Gamification was going to be a big thing. Now, I’m not so sure. It’s certainly getting more important in the world of learning. But, for projects… Here’s a rigorous report from APM that will help you to understand the context and draw your own conclusions.

Download from the APM website.

Free Project Management Reports at Enterprise Level

The big consultancies prefer to talk to the top table. So, many of their best reports address enterprise level reader, rather that jobbing project professionals. But, if you aspire to operate at a high tier of your organization (and why not?) then these will be valuable reading.

The other reason for picking these up is because many have a strong focus on governance. This will provide any serious project manager with interesting food for thought. Governance flaws are a majr source of failure for projects.

Project Risk Management – Applying the Three Lines of Defence Model to Project Risk Management: Deloitte

This takes a governance approach that draws from enterprise risk management. But there are valuable insights in this report.

Download from the Deloitte website.

Putting the Trth on the Table: Oracle

This report focuses on the value of effective reporting of robust information, for enterprise-level governance. It’s especially valuable if you are either running a large project or program, or have a major PMO role.

Download from the Oracle website.

What’s Wrong with Project Governance? PwC

Although the focus is on capital projects, I think there is plenty here for any PM who wants to think carefully about how to improve governance on your own projects.

Download from PwC.

Predictive Project Analytics – Will Your Project be Successful: Deloitte

Perhaps getting a little ld, and certainly short and sweet. But there are still some nuggets here on why projects fail.

Download from the Deloitte website.

Get out of Your Analytics Comfort Zone – Unconventional Approaches to Predicting Project Outcomes: Deloitte

This feels like a companion to the report above – but with a more commercial focus for the publisher. But if you run a PMO, the sixstep table here may give you a prompt for creating a different way to support projects.

Download from the Deloitte website.

Stock Shock – The Effect of Project and Portfolio Management on Share Price: Oracle

Is this aimed at the enterprise C-suite as an argument for good PM (and Oracle’s Primevera product) or at project managers as a support to creating a business case (for Oracle’s Primevera product)? Either way, it’s a compelling piece of advocacy.

Download from Oracle’s website.

Delivering on Strategy – The Power of Project Portfolio Management: PMI

This is a good primer on Portfolio Management for more-senior PMs moving in the direction that arena, and for executives who need to understand the broad ideas.

Download from the PMI website.

What are Your Recommendations for Free Project Management Reports?

So, what did we miss? If you’ve recently read a great free project management report, or if your organization has produced one, please do let all our readers know in the comments below. And please provide a link. If we get enough, I’ll do a second article.

About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

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